There’s nothing quite like being a teenager in the summertime. For Skylar Neese and her friends, a hot summer night in West Virginia didn’t leave them with much to do but hang out and enjoy their youth.
Like so many teens, Skylar and her friends would sneak out past their curfew. But as one typical summer night turned into morning, this high schooler never made it back to her bed…
Skylar Annette Neese was born February 10, 1996, in Star City, West Virginia, a city located in Monongalia County. Her mom Mary was an administrative assistant in a cardiac lab, and her father, Dave Neese worked as a product assembler at Walmart.
Skylar loved her parents, but being an only child, she spent a lot of her time with her friends, too. As a teen, she attended nearby University High School, where she was a gifted honors student with big dreams of being a criminal lawyer someday…
One of Skylar’s best friends was a girl named Shelia Eddy, who she met when they were just eight years old. Just like Skylar, Sheila was the only child in her family, so the lonely girls instantly clicked. Although the girls had a lot in common, Sheila had a far more difficult home life than Skylar did.
When Sheila was five years old, a terrible accident and resulting brain injury left her father permanently disabled. This led to her parents divorce and her mother had a difficult time raising her as an only parent. As a result, Sheila grew up to be rebellious and troubled…
Skylar was attracted to her friend’s “bad girl” persona and they became even closer at University High School, where their crew gained one more member. Just like Skylar and Sheila, Rachel Shoaf was an only child and the three girls soon became inseparable. However, like with all teenagers, not everything was perfect in this friendship.
Since the girl lived all over in three different parts of town, they would congregate every day on the internet. Social media practically consumed their lives when they weren’t at school or working together at a local Wendy’s. By the summer of 2012, Skylar was working a lot and doing well in school, but her two best friends were struggling a bit more…
Trouble in Paradise
Earlier that Spring, something started to change in the girls’ friendship and they would air their grievances all over the world of social media, instead of confronting the issues head-on. Skylar took to Twitter to post about being betrayed by her two best friends, referencing a certain “two-faced bitch” and being left out all the time.
Can’t Trust You
By the summer after sophomore year, the tension between the girls had come to a head. On July 4, 2012, Skylar posted to Twitter “it really doesn’t take much to p*** me off” and “sick of being at f****** home. Thanks “friends,” love hanging out with you all too.” She was clearly upset, writing more the next day: “you doing s*** like that is why I can NEVER completely trust you.” What could have gone so wrong?
Skylar was sick of being home alone, but by the very next day it seemed something had dramatically changed when she started receiving texts from the girls asking her to hang out. After returning from her night shift at Wendy’s, Skylar said goodnight to her parents and went into bed. However, just a couple of hours later, she would sneak out her window, into the dark.
Lies, All Lies
Before she snuck out her window after midnight on July 6, 2012, Skylar retweeted a post from another friend that said “All I do is hope.” The next morning, the Neeses realized their daughter was not in her bed and quickly called the police. It didn’t take long before Shelia and Rachel were brought in for questioning…
According to Sheila and Rachel, Skylar had snuck out to meet them at around 11:00 p.m. to go for a drive around town and smoked some marijuana. They said they dropped Skylar off at the end of her block sometime before midnight and went home. However, that didn’t match up at all with what the cops already knew.
Luckily, the Neeses’ apartment complex had a security camera that recorded the exact time Skylar climbed out of her bedroom window and hopped in an unidentified car and drove away at 12:30 a.m. Unlike the teenage girls, the video footage couldn’t lie…
As a few days passed, Skylar’s family insisted that their daughter didn’t run away and was still alive. Skylar’s uncle passed out flyers and missing posters around town as they desperately looked for the 16-year-old. Meanwhile, Shelia posted on Facebook about how much she missed her best friend and Dave Neese responded they would find her soon.
Teens around town began to gossip and assume what could have happened to Skylar earlier that summer. “You had people who wanted to get attention pretending to know what was happening,” a UHS student told Elle. Rumors spread that Skylar died of a drug overdose, leaving her friends to hide her body, but only two people knew what happened to her for sure…
As Skylar’s missing persons story began to make headlines around the country, the internet began to play a role, yet again. Amateur sleuths posted on true-crime message boards, speculating what happened to Skylar as Sheila and Rachel began to get unwanted messages from strangers stating they know about their “dirty little secret”.
“No one on this earth can handle me and rachel,” she wrote, “and if you think you can you’re wrong,” Sheila snapped at her followers that October, three months after Skylar disappeared. State trooper Chris Berry monitored the girls social media activity and found Shelia’s constant updates about partying and having fun were a major red flag. Investigators knew the teens were holding out on them, they just needed to crack them…
Berry found more than one discrepancy in Sheila’s story about the night of July 5th and was getting closer to the truth. She had lied about the car not being hers and which direction they headed, so she was obviously lying about what happened to Skylar. Meanwhile, Rachel was not doing so well at holding the secret together. On December 28th, the Shoafs called detectives to tell them their daughter had spiraled out of control…
Rachel spent the next six days under intensive mental health care before she told her lawyers she was finally ready to tell investigators the truth. However, when state trooper Ronnie Gaskins and other detectives arrived, they were completely shocked by the teen’s revelation. “We were expecting her to say, ‘Yes, Skylar overdosed on heroin,’” state trooper Ronnie Gaskins admitted. Instead, the first three words out of Rachel’s mouth were “we stabbed her”…
Rachel continued her confession with an alarming account of how she and Sheila had been planning Skylar’s murder since early that Spring. On July 5th, they coaxed her into Sheila’s car under the assumption they had buried the hatched, even though they were armed with kitchen knives and a shovel. They drove her to a hidden place to smoke weed and instead stabbed her until she died. Rachel confessed Skylar’s last word was simply “Why?”.
Skylar’s remains were found a few days later, but before they could be identified, Shelia took to Twitter yet again to say: “This bitch is not going to ruin my life all over again.” On May 1, 2013, Rachel pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to up to 30 years in jail. Shelia was sentenced to life in prison, while investigators and people who knew the girls still had no explanation for the violent murder. Later that year, West Virginia instated Skylar’s Law, in which police can issue public announcements whenever a child is missing, even if they don’t think kidnapping is involved. A memorial for Skylar now stands in the place she was brutally murdered, reminding everyone in town of the teen’s heartless and unnecessary death.