|Age||12 (at time of her death)|
|Cause of Death||Set on Fire by Melinda Loveless|
|Occupation||Student (at time of her death)|
|Appearances||Shanda Sharer - Chilling Crimes 1x01|
Shanda's Life Before She Was Murdered
Shanda was born in Pineville, Kentucky on the 6th of June 1979. After her parents divorced, her mother re-married and moved to Louisville, Kentucky. Shanda attended fifth and sixth grades in Louisville at St. Paul School where she was on the cheer leading, volleyball and softball teams. When her mother divorced again in 1991, they moved to New Albany, Indiana where Shanda enrolled at Hazelwood Middle School. However, after receiving threats from one of her peers, she transferred to Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, which was a Catholic school in New Albany, where she joined the basketball team.
Events Prior to Her Murder
In 1990, a 14 year-old girl named Melinda Loveless started dating another young girl named Amanda Heavrin. After Melinda's parents separated she started behaving erratically; she got into fights and felt depressed. She received counselling. In 1991 she came out to her mother who, after initially being furious, eventually accepted it. However, Melinda's relationship with Amanda deteriorated throughout the year.
Amanda and Shanda met in the fall semester when they got into a fight, however they became friends while in detention. Melinda grew jealous of Shanda's relationship with Amanda. In early October, Amanda and Shanda attended a school dance, where Melinda found and confronted them. Although Amanda and Melinda never formally ended their relationship, Melinda began dating an older girl.
After Shanda and Amanda attended a festival together later that month, Melinda started discussing killing Shanda and threatened her in public. Concerned for the safety of her daughter, Shanda's mother arranged for her to be transferred to a Catholic school in late November, and the girls began to drift apart by December.
On the 10th of January 1992, Toni Lawrence (age 15), Hope Rippey (age 15) and Lauri Tackett (age 17) drove in Lauri's car from Madison to Melinda Loveless' house in New Albany. Toni, while a friend of Lauri, had not met Melinda (age 16), thought Hope had met her once before and had gotten along with her. Upon arrival, Melinda showed them a knife and told them she was going to scare Shanda Sharer with it. Only Melinda had ever met Shanda, although Lauri knew of the plan to intimidate the 12 year-old girl. Melinda explained to the other two girls that she hated Shanda for being a 'copycat' and for 'stealing her girlfriend'.
Lauri and Hope drove the four girls to Jeffersonville, Indiana, where Shanda lived, stopping at McDonald's on the way to ask for directions. They arrived at Shanda's house shortly before dark. Melinda told Hope and Toni to go to the door and introduce themselves as friends of Amanda (Melinda's former and Shanda's current girlfriend). They should invite Shanda to come with them to see Amanda, who was waiting for them at 'The Witch's Castle', a desolate stone house, also known as Mistletoe Falls, located on an isolated hill overlooking the Ohio River.
Shanda said she couldn't go because her parents were still awake, and she told the girls to come back around midnight. Melinda was angry to begin with, but Hope and Toni assured her that they would return for Shanda later on. The four girls crossed the river to Louiseville, Kentucky, and attended a punk rock concert at the Audubon Skate Park neat Interstate 65. Toni and Hope quickly became bored of the music and walked to a parking lot outside the skate park, where they engaged in sexual activities with two boys in Lauri's car.
Finally, the four girls left for Shanda's house. During the drive, Melinda said that she couldn't wait to kill Shanda, however she also said that she found Shanda attractive and had sexual intentions towards her, and that she just intended to use the knife to frighten her. They arrived at Shanda's house at 12.30am, when Toni refused to collect Shanda, so Lauri and Hope went to the door. Melinda hid under a blanket in the back seat of the car with a dull knife.
As the girls got in the car with Shanda, who was reluctant to go with them, Hope began questioning her about her relationship with Amanda, just to annoy Melinda. Melinda, who had heard enough, sprang from the back seat and put the knife to Shanda's throat. She began interrogating her about her sexual relationship with Amanda. They continued to drive towards Utica, Indiana, and The Witch's Castle.
At Witch's Castle, they took terrified Shanda in and bound her arms and legs with rope. Melinda then proceeded to taunt Shanda, threatening to cut off her hair. Melinda then began to take off Shanda;s rings and handed each to the girls. At one point, Hope took Shanda's Mickey Mouse watch and danced to the tune it played. Lauri, who was sick of the infantile games, started describing the dungeon to Shanda, she said it was filled with human remains and that hers would be next. Subsequently, Lauri went back to the car where Toni followed to retrieve her cherished smiley face sweater. She returned and lit it on fire, but immediately feared that the fire would be spotted by passers-by so they left. Throughout the car ride, Shanda begged them to take her home. Toni taunted her, and laughed what she called her 'devil laugh'. Melinda ordered Shanda to take off her bra which she then gave to Hope, who removed her own bra and replaced it with Shanda's while steering the car. After becoming lost and having to ask for directions, they arrived at the edge of the woods near Lauri's home in Madison, Indiana.
Lauri lead them to a rubbish dump off of a logging road in a densely forested area. Toni and Hope where scared and stayed in the car. Melinda and Lauri took turns stabbing Shanda in the chest. They strangled her with a rope until she fell unconscious, then placed her in the trunk of the car and told the other two girls she was dead.
The girls then drove to Lauri's nearby home and went inside to drink soda and wash themselves. When they realised Shanda was screaming in the trunk, Lauri went out with a paring knife and stabbed her several times, coming back a few minutes later covered in blood. After 2.30am, Toni and Hope stayed behind as Lauri and Melinda went 'country cruising', driving to the nearby town of Canaan. Shanda continued to make crying and gurgling noises, so Lauri stopped the car. When they opened the trunk, Shanda sat up, covered in her own blood with her eyes rolled back, but unable to speak. Lauri beat her with a tire iron until she became silent.
When Lauri and Melinda returned to the other two girls, they laughed as they described the torture. The conversation woke up Lauri's mother who ordered that she take the girls home. She drove to the burn pile, where they opened the trunk to stare at Shanda. Toni refused. Hope sprayed Shanda with Windex and taunted 'You're not looking so hot now are you? Now let's take her pants off and get to it ladies!'
The girls drove to a gas station near Madison Consolidated High School, pumped some gas into the car, and bought a two liter bottle of Pepsi. Lauri poured out the Pepsi and replaced it with gasoline. They then drove north of Madison, to a place known by Hope. Toni remained in the car while Lauri and Hope wrapped Shanda, who was still alive, in a blanket and carried her to a field by the gravel road. Lauri made Hope our fuel over Shanda and they then set her on fire. Melinda was still not convinced that Shanda was dead so they returned a few moments later to pour the rest of the gasoline on her.
Later that morning, on the 11th of January 1992, two brothers from Canaan, Indiana, were driving toward Jefferson Proving Ground to go hunting when they noticed a body on the side of the road. They called the police at 10.55am and were asked to return the corpse. The police began collecting forensic evidence, and were lead to believe it was the result of a drug deal gone wrong.
Steve Sharer noticed his daughter was missing early on the 11th of January. After spending hours phoning neighbors and friends, he called his ex-wife (Shanda's mother), at 1.45pm they met and filed a missing person report with the Clark County sheriff.
At 8.20pm, a hysterical Toni Lawrence went to the Jefferson County Sheriff's office with her parents where she gave a statement, identifying the victim as Shanda Sharer and naming the three other girls involved as best she could, describing the events of the previous night. Toni's statement provided the bulk of the evidence for the arrest warrant.
All four girls were charged as adults. To avoid the death penalty, the girls accepted plea bargains. All four girls had a difficult background, and claimed to have been victims of sexual or physical abuse. They had history of self-harm and Melinda was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and hallucinations.
In exchange for their cooperation, Toni Lawrence was allowed to plead guilty to one count of Criminal Confinement and was sentenced to a maximum of 20 years. Lauri Tackett and Melinda Loveless were sentenced to 60 years in Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis. With maximum time reduced for good behavior, they could be released in 2020. Hope Rippey was sentenced to 60 years, with 10 years suspended for mitigating circumstances, plus ten years of medium-supervision probation. On appeals, a judge reduced the sentence to 35 years.
Both Melinda Loveless and Lauri Tackett are currently serving their original sentences. Given Indiana's policy of reducing sentences day by day for every day spent with good behavior, both women could possibly be released in 2022, when Melinda is 46 and Lauri is 47 years old.
Toni Lawrence was released on the 4th of December 2000, after serving 9 years. She remained on parole until December 2002.
On the 28th of April 2006, Hope Rippey was released from Indiana Women's Prison on parole after serving 14 years of her original sentence. She remained on supervised parole for 5 years.
The Shanda Sharer Scholarship Fund was established in January 2009.
Shanda's mother donates a dog every year to be trained for the Assistance Network Program (CAN) which provides dogs to assist those with disabilities. She does this in honor of Shanda.
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