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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
April 11, 2001     Feather River Bulletin
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April 11, 2001

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14A Wednesday,20O, From Page One Feather n Continued from page IA And, of course, there was the missing Tina Sharp, whose remains would not be recov- ered until seven years ago at Feather Falls, near Oroville. Earlier, the terrified Sheila Sharp discovered the three bodies in the front room of the Keddie residence. She had spent the night at a neighbor's home, which was lo- cated less than 15 feet from where the murders took place, and was coming home. She ran screaming from the house, yelling for help from neighbors, who called the sher- iffs department and removed the two other children, who were untouched, through a bedroom window to spare them having to see the murder scene. The investigation Among those who looked in- to the murders were the de- partment's Doug Thomas, who was the sheriff at the time, and Ken Shanks, who would be- come sheriff when Thomas stepped down months after the murders. Other investigators--Harry Bradley and Mike Crimm of the California Department of Justice and Dick Donner and Larry Ott'of the FBI--were brought in.. The one constant through the years has been Don Stoy, a lieutenant in 1981 who eventu- ally rose to the rank of sheriff for eight years. Stoy devoted an indefinite number of hours to the Keddie case. Stoy, who retired two years ago, said the crime scene was frustrating because "there was nothing to start from" in terms of evidence. In most instances, a crime scene, even homicide scenes, will contain evidence that will lead investigators in some di- rection, that will give them some kind of blueprint. Not in this instance, Stoy said. There was no apparent mo- tive. "It wasn't something some- one went there to do," said De- Crona, agreeing with Stoy. There was only one finger- print--"a single bloody finger- print," Stoy said. For the most part, however, the crime scene was useless, Stoy said. As was the Feather Falls scene where Tina was found seven years ago. "I'm willing to say it was a bunch of dumb luck" on the part of the killers that they did not leave behind any evidence that linked them to the crime, Stoy said. Another problem was the lack of focus by the various in- vestigators, he said. Everyone seemed to have had their own theory and went off on their own without work- ing together, he said. The only conclusion he reached--one shared by many others--is that two people committed the killings. "There were too many peo- ple going in their own direc- tion," Stoy said. "There was not enough teamwork." In the end, the lack of unity may have prevented the de- partment from solving the crime, Stoy said. Also hindering the investi- gation is the fact that the de- partment could not access many of the high-tech crime- solving techniques used today, Stoy said. For example, Stoy said, pro- filing and DNA analysis were not reliable at the time and were not of much use to the de. partment in 1981. "We attempted to develop a profile," Stoy said. "But psy- cholo ical profiling was in its infan@." DeCrona added that profil- ing--which is the science of determining the personality and traits of the person who committed the offense based on crime scene evidence--just made it harder to solve, De- Crona added. "When you profile this, it becomes even more convolut- ed," DeCrona said. Suspects Stoy and others say there were many potential suspects, but there was no hard evi- dence to link them to the crimes in any real way. A month after the slayings, the sheriffs department re- leased a pair of drawings of two possible suspects. The drawings appeared in the newspaper and elsewhere, DNA may solve case but their publication did very per routine]~ets phone calls little to solve the offenses, and e-mails froih-- eaders who The drawings were based still are interested in the case, on a statement by one of the DeCrona said he understands kids in the house who was not the fascination. touched by the killers. "People in the community-- At first, the child said they they knew the (victims)," t)e- had had a dream about what Crona said, explaining the m- had occurred, but a therapist terest. "It doesn't leave you. would go on to say that that It's been dogging me for was the child's way of dealing years--all of us. I don't think with witnessing such horrible of it all the time, but I think of violence, it often." Many potential suspects Stoy agrees with DeCrona. were interviewed or consid-He sees it as well. ered by investigators, but law "There were a great number enforcement found more deadof people involved in the case." ends than hope for success,said Stoy, referring to people Stoy said. who were interested. "A lot of "Our suspect file just grewpeople were close to the crime and grew," Stoy said. for a variety of reasons Over the years, a variety of "I don't think about it all people have claimed they the time," Stoy added. "But it's know what took place 20 years something that is undone. ago this week. something that is unfinished Just more dead ends, offi- in mymind." cials say. Former Plumas County res- Can it be solved? ident Robert Silveria, who was Jeremy Dural. the current arrested for, and subsequently investigations supervisor for convicted in, a nationwide the department, said the crime railroad-related killing spree, still can be solved. once took credit for the Keddie murders. He said the slayings are In fact, DeCrona and former"something we continually re- department investigations view." chief Larry Rives interviewed Duval, who has played a Silveria, who was known role in solving recent homi- throughout the country as the cides for the department, in- Boxcar Killer, after he made cluding Reta Orner's slaying of the claim, her husband in 1995 and Rain But, law enforcement offi- Dancer Dickey-O'Brien's al- cials discovered that Silveria leged shooting of a Forest Set- l was in custody at the time of vice worker, said the recent the killings and could not have resolution of the }teidi Fre- done it, DeCrona said. dette case gives the depart- Several years ago, another ment a glimmer of hope. former Plumas County resi- Fredette was killed in 1984. dent told officials that they but suspect David McIntosh knew who committed the of- was only identified as a sus- il fenses, pect two months ago. thanks to in fact, the former resident's the use of a DNA bank at the story was convincing because California Department of Jus- they were aware of facts that tice. only law enforcement officials DeCrona agrees with Dural. ~:--- knew. saying, "There is new hope '~ But the story was eventual- with DNA (technology)." ~ ............ ly discredited when investiga- "I do believe it will be tors learned that the former solved," DeCrona said. resident had learned what they knew from someone in localStoy is confident, too. -" law enforcement. "I think it will be solved, Information pointing to oth-Stoy said. "It's just that (the er potential suspects is depict- killers) are still lucky after all More than two ed on what is known as thethese years." neglect that Keddie murder timeline-=a . ...:, : computer printout that runs the length of two office walls in the sheriffs department. The department also stores more than 200 pieces of addi- tional evidence in hopes of someday solving the case. Even with all that evidence, what still amazes investigators is that the crimes occurred in a building that was surround- ed by other occupied homes--a student housing complex for Feather River College, a 24- hour coffee shop and a busy tavern--and that no one heard a sound or saw anyone coming or going from the Sharp resi- dence. The decline of Keddle The homicides drained all the life out of Keddie, which had been a hub of activity ever since Arthur W. Keddie estab- lished the tiny village near the turn of the last century. Although the closure of the railroad terminal in Keddie nearly 30 years ago hurt the community, it was revived in 1978 when it underwent a mas- sive facelift and was trans- formed into a popular resort. "It was a nice area," De- Crona said. "The restaurant was nice. I went to dinner with my family there." DeCrona, like so many oth- ers, agree that the murders wiped out Keddie. A year after the slayings, the resort was put on the mar- ket for $1.8 million--about $7 million in 2001 dollars. Then, three years ago, coun- ty officials condemned more than two dozen of the build- ings located in Keddie, brand- ing them as too dangerous for occupation. Today, many of the build- ings remain in disrepair; bro- ken windows, broken doors and other signs of vandalism and mischief have replaced quaint, charming cabins. It many ways, it resembles a ghost town, literally and figu- ratively, out of some John Ford western. Still remembered Law enforcement officials say there is something haunt- ing, something shocking, something sad about what took place in Keddie 20 years ago that manages to keep the pub-. lic the slayings. When told that the newspa- any ptrson to occupy or ~ry A, qsor r of tl IQLGI agai ide~ 'nY of " , tO Twenty years after the Keddle slayings, a once popular resort is marked by Photos t lda B ~11 the .::::~.%., ree " ly, Apr Li !sday,, dozen buildings have been declared unsafe by the county--a signi followed in the wake of four killings there 20 years ago. A Special Supplement, produced by Feather Publishing Co., Inc. featuring fine dining in Plumas County. Full color cover Process color available inside & out 30,000 copies printed and delivered to approximately 250 outlets throughout Plumas County A publication that customers keep all year long Extra copies available for tourists Don't be left out! 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