Keddie murder victims’ family member publishes book

Laura Beaton
Staff Writer

KeddieThe Keddie murders of April 12, 1981, remain an unsolved mystery in Plumas County. Cabin 28 in the former Keddie Resort, seven miles from Quincy, has been torn down, but the notoriety and mystery of the grisly killings remains.

  More than 31 years have passed since the horrific scene that 14-year-old Sheila Sharp stumbled upon when she returned home from a sleep-over at a neighbor’s house and found the brutalized bodies of her mother, brother and his friend bound, stabbed and beaten with a hammer.

  Now a mature adult, Sharp has released her story, titled “How to Survive Your Visit to Earth,” from Free Spirit Books. The book is co-written by Sharp’s husband, Sifu Richard Whittle.

  Sharp’s book is mainly a self-help treatise discussing how she overcame the trauma, anger, fear and victimization she experienced after the murders.

  The book briefly recounts the grisly murders of Sharp’s mother, Sue, 36, brother Johnny, 15, and his friend Dana Wingate, 17, who were killed in the Sharp home.

  Sharp’s 12-year-old sister Tina went missing, and three years later her skull was found on the Feather Falls Trail outside of Oroville.

  The main focus of the book is the concept that, like Sharp, anyone can get beyond such devastating trauma and live a productive life if they do the necessary work.

  Filmmaker Josh Hancock made two documentary films about the murders, “Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders Part I” in 2005, and “Part II,” released in October 2010. Hancock also wrote a coffee table style book of the same title published in 2008.

  Before the second film was released, the filmmaker, who had access to sheriff’s department files, found a single page containing information regarding a confession to the murders of Sue and Johnny Sharp by Marty Smartt, a Vietnam vet and one of the Sharps’ neighbors.

  Hancock asks many questions in his documentary, including why law enforcement authorities have not produced an answer for this atrocious, troubling crime.

  He wants to know why Smartt’s confession, reported to authorities by the counselor who heard it, was not satisfactorily investigated.

  Sharp asks many of the same questions, and comes up with the same lack of answers.

  Sharp reveals a life of instability, sexual abuse and pregnancy at age 13.

  She talks about her teenage and early adult years when she felt like a victim and was very angry at the world.

  She goes on to tell how she overcame the many difficulties she faced and learned how to survive and even flourish.

  Sharp traces her progress from learning about the “secret purposes of life,” to five things you must accept about yourself, the five things you must know and the five things you must overcome.

  She offers insights on overcoming adversity and fear, and achieving personal and spiritual growth.

  Sharp’s book is available through More information and video clips may be obtained by going to

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