Who wouldn’t like a cozy log cabin in the woods?
You may want to reconsider your answer in a moment.
The following is a true account of a quadruple homicide.
Glenna “Sue” Sharp, age 36, and her five children got thrown out of their Connecticut home by Sue’s abusive husband, James Sharp. They traveled cross-country visiting friends and old neighbors and settled in Keddie, California, in a 3-bedroom cabin in November, 1980.
Plumas County was not a place where dreams came true. Not a place where perseverance won out. And not a place where one could climb the corporate ladder to success.
Not then anyway. Not in 1980.
Keddie was a run-down, low rent, railroad town. Violence ran rampant.
Despite the circumstances that brought them to CA, the kids nested into their new life, and frolicked in a forest, stream, and on railroad tracks behind the property.
They lived among a cluster of cabins. A dying resort that rented to year-round residents.
Johnny, the eldest child at age 15, took an unfinished room downstairs, off a small utility area in the partial basement. With no indoor stairs or separate bathroom, he used the back staircase or front door to gain access to Cabin 28. Other than this small inconvenience he was content with his new semi-independence. The younger boys, Rick, age 10, and Greg, age 5, shared a bedroom at the front of the cabin, next to the living room, while Sue and her youngest daughter, Tina, age 12, shared the rear bedroom opposite the kitchen.
In mid-February, the eldest daughter, Sheila, age 14, gave birth to a baby in Oregon. The baby was promptly put up for adoption and Sheila rejoined her family in Cabin 28. Now with her child back home, Sue slept in a twin bed while the girls shared the queen. On occasion Sue slept on the pull-couch in the living room, falling asleep in front of the TV.
Times were tough.
Living quarters cramped.
A hard life.
Sadly, that was nothing new. Sue stretched $250 she received from the Navy — which barely covered rent — food stamps, and a stipend she received for being enrolled in CETA — a federal education program of the era — as far it could stretch.
Folks described Sue as a quiet, reserved woman, who primarily kept to herself. No local criminal record and not known to local authorities. She had one close girlfriend, a neighbor woman with the last name of Meeks.
Despite her personality, Sue managed to wrangle dates with some frequency, hanging at a neighborhood bar called The Back Door drinking beer and playing pool. Several boyfriends seemed at odds with her temperament and background. Sue had a steady boyfriend — another volatile relationship — that ended in a shouting match around late March, 1981.
April 12, 1981
Sunday, 7:45 a.m. (approx. time)
Fifteen feet south of her home, Sheila Sharp (14) woke at Cabin 27, the Seabolts residence, where she had spent the night. The Seabolts invited her to attend church with their family. All she needed was her Sunday clothes.
Sheila swung open the front door of Cabin 28.
Three dead bodies on the floor. The furthest away covered with a blanket.
Between the doorway and the closest body was a knife, bent at such an angle that Sheila mistook it for an open pocket knife.
It wasn’t a pocket knife.
It was the knife used to slaughter her family.
Screaming, crying, Sheila careened to the Seabolts.
The matriarch, Zonita Seabolt, rushed Sheila across the street to Cabin 25, the landlord’s residence.
Zonita called the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office.
PCSO dispatched a car.
How could they stand idly by and do nothing?
They couldn’t. No one could.
With the help of Zonita’s eldest son Jamie, they returned to Cabin 28. Around back, Jamie knocked on the boys’ bedroom window.
A face appeared in the glass.
Someone survived. Three children survived.
Jamie dragged Greg, Rick, and a neighbor child, Justin Smartt, age 12, from that window. All three unharmed.
Justin was on a sleepover. He believed he was safe. No one could have predicted what would happen during the early morning hours.
Determined to find more survivors, Jamie crept up the back stairs.
The killers had escaped. The back door left ajar.
Jamie witnessed the carnage, the aftermath of murder.
Three dead: Sue (36), John (15), and John’s friend, Dana Wingate (17).
Missing from the cabin was Sue’s twelve-year-old daughter, Tina.
Who committed the murders?
Two primary suspects: Martin Smartt and John “Bo” Boubede.
Smartt served two tours in Vietnam and was seeking psychiatric help at the Reno VA hospital a few weeks before the murders.
Boubede, who had a criminal history of bank robbery for which he spent time in prison, claimed he was at the hospital for epilepsy and a suicide attempt.
The two men met there, and when Smartt left the hospital he brought Boubede with him to Keddie, California.
The police interviewed Smartt and Boubede, but neither were ever charged with the murders.
Both have since died.
Fifty miles from Cabin 28, Tina’s skull was found near a waterfall.
This case has never been solved.
Why am I telling you this heartbreaking story?
Because I spent most of my day yesterday reading transcripts of Smartt and Boubede’s interviews.
Guess what? I have a special treat for you.
Former Supervisory Deputy United States Marshall Mark McClish analyzed these interviews, pointing out key words and phrases that show when a suspect is lying. Mr. McClish has an extensive background as a Secret Service Agent, FBI, and U.S. Marshall.
Now retired, Mark McClish started Advanced Interviewing Concepts, a company that provides interviewing skills training and assists investigators in analyzing statements. Mark currently gives presentations and seminars on Statement Analysis throughout the U.S. He has spoken at numerous conferences and has trained a variety of law enforcement agencies and military organizations. He is the author of the books I Know You Are Lying and Don’t Be Deceived. He also developed the Statement Analyzer which is software that will analyze a statement for deception.
Are you ready?
Mr. McClish gave me permission to publish his analysis of Smartt and Boubede’s statement. Yay! This is pure gold for a crime writer. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to share this with you.
But…you will have to wait till next time. I promise, it’ll be worth the wait.