Skylar Neese was a 16-year-old, straight-A student at University High School in Star City, West Virginia. She was the only daughter of Dave and Mary Neese who not only excelled academically, but also in her job at a local fast food restaurant. When she failed to show up for work one day, her parents became alarmed and immediately reported their daughter missing.
Skylar never had a history of sneaking out or getting into trouble like a typical teenager. Her parents had no reason to worry about her until the day that she was reported missing and the screen was found removed from her first floor bedroom window. Outside of the window was a stool believed to have been placed there by Skylar so she could sneak back in when she returned home to the apartment, but she never returned. When surveillance footage provided by the apartment complex was submitted, a grainy Skylar can be seen leaving her window around 1230am and getting into a sedan and driving away. The footage was unable to show for sure what kind of car it was, or even what color given the poor quality of the tape. What the tape did show was one of the most important facts detectives had to go on: she willingly got into that vehicle.
The police interviewed all of those closest to Skylar trying to piece together what happened that evening and also determine who was in the sedan with her. Skylar’s two best friends, Rachel Stouf and Sheila Eddy, told investigators that it was in fact them who had picked up Skylar that evening. They drove around town, they said, and stopped in a secluded area to smoke some marijuana, and then they drove Skylar back to her house. They said that Skylar had asked them to drop her off a block away from her apartment so she wouldn’t wake up her parents. Rachel and Sheila said someone must have abducted her as she walked the one block home because that was the last they saw of her.
Police considered that perhaps Skylar had willingly run away from home, but she had left vital things she would need if running away, like her cell phone charger. After interviewing many students at the high school, police had an inkling that perhaps Rachel and Sheila knew more than they were letting on to investigators. Rumors circled around Facebook and Twitter regarding Skylar’s whereabouts: she was out of the country, she was in California, and she ran away from home. As investigators continued to grill Sheila and Rachel, they continued to stick to their story.
Until six months later, when the police received a phone call from Rachel’s dad, who was calling to report her — in a word — erratic behavior. She was screaming, crying, and unraveling inside. Rachel had cracked. Police came to her house and took her to a mental institution where she stayed while being evaluated. When she was released, she asked the police to come to her lawyer’s office so she could tell them what she had been hiding for so long, but only in the presence of her attorney.
When police arrived, a distraught, sick-looking Rachel sat near a trash can looking as if she were going to throw up at any minute. She told police that she and Sheila had picked Skylar up around 1230am, gone for a drive, smoked weed, and drove for about an hour right over the Pennsylvania state line. They had all three gotten out of the car in a wooded area and when Skylar turned around, they counted to three and both Shelia and Rachel started stabbing her with knifes they took from their kitchens. The police could not believe they were hearing such a graphic, willing confession, but the only question they really had in the end was the same question that Rachel claimed were Skylar’s final words: Why?
All Rachel could tell police was that neither she nor Shelia liked Skylar, so they plotted to kill her. They left her out in the woods, covered by some dirt and sticks, and took their now covered-in-blood clothes off and put them in the trunk of Sheila’s car and drove away. Later, Rachel took police out to the site where they left Skylar’s body and her remains were scattered among the area. They had a confession and remains, but still there was not enough to arrest Shelia and Rachel connecting them directly to the murder. Without the murder weapon present, evidence on the remains leading to a cause of death, or any DNA linking Shelia and Rachel directly to the remains, they felt they did not have enough to arrest either one.
Investigators obtained a search warrant and searched Shelia’s car, hoping to find Skylar’s blood or DNA in the trunk, which would prove that her body or blood from their clothes the night of the murder had been in the vehicle. When the tests for Skylar’s DNA came back positive, Shelia and Rachel were arrested for the murder of Skylar Neese.
Though Rachel had confessed to the murder, and had tried to cooperate with police, she pleaded guilty to second degree murder. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in 15 years. Shelia also plead guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. She will also be eligible for parole in 15 years.
Speak with an appellate lawyer.