The Torture Killing Of 12 Year Old Shanda Sharer

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Madison, Indiana-
16 year old Melinda Loveless had been dating a girl named Amanda Heavrin. The relationship hadn’t been perfect, and Amanda had been talking to a beautiful 12 year old girl named Shanda Sharer on the side for about 3 months. Melinda was extremely jealous, obsessively so; she had threatened Shanda’s life many times, and told just about everyone how badly she wanted the lovely child dead.

Melinda

On January 10th of 1992, Melinda had planned to attend a concert with 3 other girls: 17 year old Laurie Tackett, 15 year old Toni Lawrence, and Hope Rippey, also 15. But the concert wasn’t Melinda’s main concern, she’d planned to kill her young rival as well. It should be noted that Hope and Toni had never met Melinda before this night, they had been friends of Laurie’s; matter of fact, the only one of these girls who had ever met Shanda in person was Melinda. Pretty much, they‘d been a group of strangers who came together in order to murder an innocent 12 year old stranger.

Amanda

On this particular weekend Shanda had been staying with her father, Steve Sharer, and Melinda knew it. When the group of girls drove up to the house, Toni and Hope knocked on the front door; the girl’s Daddy answered and called Shanda over. Toni and Hope told Shanda that Amanda, her love interest, needed to see her that night; they stated that it was an emergency. The naive preteen told the girls to come back around midnight, that she’d sneak out once her dad was asleep.

From here the group of girls actually went to their planned concert, and they reportedly had a grand old time. Melinda called her girlfriend, Amanda, and told her of her sinister plan for Shanda; Amanda was supposed to have cared for Shanda, she could’ve stopped everything right then. Amanda could have at least warned Shanda, but instead she chose to do absolutely nothing.

After the concert, the group of 4 drove back to Shanda’s house; Amanda was supposed to be outside waiting to talk to her, but she was nowhere in sight. The girls assured the preteen that Amanda was waiting for her, if she’d just get in the vehicle they’d take Shanda to see her. Melinda had been hiding in the back seat under a blanket, and just a moment after Shanda got in the car she must’ve realized she was doomed. As soon as they began to drive away, Melinda popped up from the backseat and held a blade to Shanda’s throat.

The young girl began screaming, sobbing, begging her captors to let her go; Shanda had sworn that she’d never speak to Amanda again, but it was too late. The girl was taken to a place called the Witch’s Castle, a creepy old abandoned stone house by the Ohio river where local kids would often go to party. The teens stole Shanda’s rings and Mickey Mouse watch and distributed them amongst themselves; they bound their victim’s hands and feet, set her smiley face sweater on fire, and they threatened to light Shanda up next. The gang would make good on that threat later on.

Laurie

The group got a little paranoid at the Witch’s Castle, they’d fretted that someone might see them; from here they loaded Shanda up in the trunk and drove out into the woods. Once there, Melinda had stripped the 12 year old of all her clothing, it had been a bitterly cold January night; Melinda then beat Shanda while Laurie held her still, then Melinda and Laurie took turns stabbing Shanda in the chest. They’d attempted to slit their victim’s throat but their knife hadn’t been sharp enough, so they settled for strangling Shanda with a rope. Once they believed their child victim was dead, the girls placed her back in the trunk and drove to Laurie’s house where they’d planned to stay the night. A while later they heard screams coming from the trunk of the car, Shanda had somehow survived; Laurie ran outside, lifted the trunk, and she stabbed the girl in the head again.

Hope

The torture had been going on for a few hours, and it was now after 2 am. Melinda and Laurie decided to go for a ride to deal with their problem while Hope and Toni elected to stay at the house. It doesn’t seem as though these two really wanted to be involved in Shanda’s murder, but they were. These girls could’ve stopped it, easily could’ve told someone while Laurie and Melinda were gone. How simple would it have been to pick up the telephone and tell the authorities; like Amanda, the teens chose to do nothing.

Toni

Melinda and Laurie has driven down the road, and they’d stopped every once in a while to beat poor Shanda with a tire iron whenever she’d made a noise. They assaulted this little girl with that iron in every way possible; just use your imagination, I can’t even say what they did with that weapon to this innocent 12 year old little girl. Yeah. It’s so horrific.

Shanda

When the sun began to rise, Melinda and Laurie returned to the house to pick up Hope and Toni; Hope would be the one to spray Shanda’s open wounds with Windex. The teens stopped at a service station and filled up a Pepsi bottle with gasoline, then drove off to a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Three of the girls wrapped Shanda’s nude body in a blanket and placed her on the side of the road, while Toni stayed in the vehicle as she couldn’t stand to look; Hope drenched Shanda in gasoline, and Laurie lit the match which set Shanda on fire. The group drove away, but when they got down the road someone noticed that the fire had gone out; they turned the vehicle around and lit their victim up once more.

This little girl’s last words were “Mommy”.
Once Shanda was literally burnt to a crisp, the teenagers drove straight to the closest McDonald’s where they ordered breakfast and laughed that the sausage patties looked just like Shanda’s burnt face. After breakfast, Hope and Toni were taken home; later on, Melinda and Laurie went to the mall to meet Amanda. They told her exactly what they’d done to Shanda; Melinda claimed that she had merely planned to kick Shanda’s ass but Laurie wanted to kill her. They even showed Amanda the bloody trunk as proof that they weren’t kidding. Amanda comforted a teary Melinda, as Laurie laughed at the memory of the night before. Amanda had been told about the murder of a girl she was supposed to have loved, a girl who died because of her; again, she did not call the authorities, Amanda did absolutely nothing.

Amanda

Shanda’s corpse was discovered that very morning, the man who found her said that he’d originally believed himself to have been looking at a burnt mannequin. The girl had been completely unrecognizable, and had to be positively identified by dental records. The coroner stated that in his 20 years of performing more than 10,000 autopsies that this one is, without a single doubt, the most “heinous” of his entire career. Shanda had soot in her lungs during autopsy, which proved without a doubt that she had been burnt alive. These teenaged girls had tortured this child for 10 hours straight, think about that for a minute! This 12 year old child survived 10 hours of pure hell! It’s said that had she not been lit on fire that second time she could’ve survived it all, her will to live had been so very strong. Shanda had been a fighter.

After everyone went their separate ways, Toni was at home just riddled with guilt; she just couldn’t stand it, and she told her dad what had transpired. In turn Toni’s father took her to the police station to confess; Melinda and Laurie were arrested as they slept in bed.

Laurie

All four teens were tried as adults, and all took plea bargains. Toni, the least guilty of the bunch (if there is such a thing) was sentenced to 20 years; she was released in 2000 and is currently raising her own little girl. Hope was sentenced to 60 years with ten suspended for mitigating circumstances; she was released in 2006.
Amanda testified in court against her girlfriend. She absolutely does not blame herself in any way, nor does she feel bad about what happened; matter of fact, Amanda has deemed herself a victim! Shanda’s murder ruined her life, she lost a college scholarship due to the pesky ordeal, and people have called her names over it! Poor thing!

Laurie was sentenced to 60 years. In my humble opinion, she is a terrible person; Laurie reportedly stated that it was her fate to kill someone at some point in her life, and she obsesses over murder and the occult. It’s said that Laurie even held a seance in prison as an attempt to communicate with Shanda’s ghost. Laurie was released a couple of years ago; tell ya what, that’s one woman I would not want living anywhere near me and my children!

Melinda

Melinda, the ringleader, was also sentenced to 60 years; she did attempt to do something good with her life behind bars, she trained dogs. When Shanda’s mother, Jacque, found out what Melinda was doing, she donated a puppy to the program. Melinda, who said that the dogs have helped her immensely, named that particular puppy Angel, after Shanda. While it’s true that she does seem remorseful, it’s also said that both she and Laurie still each have one of Shanda’s rings; they have their trophies and refuse to give them up. Just a year ago, a 43 year old Melinda was released from prison.

Shanda’s mother, Jacque Vaught, is a beautifully strong woman. She is angry that these killers did not serve their entire sentences, and who can blame her? Jacque has become a very outspoken advocate for murdered children. Bless her.

Shanda’s mama

Shanda was the light of her father’s life; when his child was taken from his home and killed, Steve couldn’t handle it. The man drank himself to death, and passed away at the age of 53.

Shanda and her daddy

It’s crazy the lengths that people, especially teenagers, will go to when in a group; they call it mob mentality or peer pressure. All four of these women have stated that they didn’t want to kill Shanda, but each was afraid of the group turning on them if they tried to stop it. That’s likely just an excuse for Melinda and Laurie, but probably true for Hope and Toni; it’s extremely unlikely that either of these two girls would have ever hurt anyone had they not been with Melinda and Laurie that night. Now a child is dead, and the lives of everyone who knew these girls are destroyed.

If you’re interested, Dr Phil did a 2 part special on this case in May of 2011, you’ll notice some of the photos used in this article are screen shots from the show. Shanda’s mom and sister confront Hope, Laurie, and Amanda. While the killers are remorseful and take what their victim’s family dishes out, Amanda is a smug asshole who plays the victim. I’ve never wanted to reach through a tv screen and knock the hell out of anyone so badly in my entire life.

CAUTION, CRIME SCENE PHOTOS BELOW

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These 3 crime scene (autopsy) photos were taken from a site called Talk Murder.
Shanda’s back. Photo taken from “Talk Murder”
Photo taken from “Talk Murder”

We ALL have that one case, the one that got you. Maybe it horrified you, intrigued you, did it make you angry? I feel all of those things about this case. I was 12 years old when this crime took place, living in close proximity; I was in Louisville, Shanda had been murdered right across the bridge in Indiana. It felt so surreal, that this could happen to a girl my age. The Aphrodite Jones book about this case was the first adult book I ever read, and I bought it with my own money. I’m sure you have a case like this, which one is it?

Shanda

*The part about Laurie and Melinda keeping Shanda’s rings asa trophy and refusing to give them back, I absolutely have read that in the past. I very distinctly remember as it upset me so badly! That said, I can not find a source to back it up right now. I wanted to add it to this article as it says so much about them, but since I can not absolutely prove it, please take that part with a grain of salt.

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6 Replies to “The Torture Killing Of 12 Year Old Shanda Sharer”

  1. You did a fine job of covering this very horrific story. Keep up the good work!

  2. This is also the case that kept me up at night. I am also from Louisville and it terrified me what a group of teenagers are capable of.

    1. It’s awful; I’m unsure of your age but I was the exact same age as Shanda. Until this time, it had never dawned on me that a person may kill me! Maybe kidnap me or Pennywise the Clown night come for me, but this? My god! All of Louisville was in shock 💚
      Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to comment

  3. You cover some truly horrific stories. Humans in general can be some of the most evil on earth! You do an awesome job, please keep up the great work

    1. Thank you. Shanda’s Murder is what started my true crime obsession. We were the same age, and I was living in Louisville Kentucky, right across the bridge from where Shanda lived. The case was all anyone could talk about, it’s one of the most horrific ever. And now all 4 killers are free! Blows my mind!
      Anyhow, thank you for the enormous compliment as I truly needed it. Christmas is rough this year, first Christmas without my brother. I hope you’re well.
      – Crystal Bearr

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