Skylar Neese was a beautiful 16-year-old girl. She got her mother’s bright blue eyes, ivory skin, and a dimpled chin. The teenager was a student at University High School, excited to enter her junior year. Although she couldn’t stand math and science, she excelled in them and the rest of her classes, making Skylar an honors student.
Skylar just wanted to hang out with her friends in the summertime and not worry about school. She tweeted, “Stress will be the death of me,” and went to sleep. The next evening, July 5th, 2012, Skylar came home from her shift at Wendy’s, and her parents were watching TV. It seemed like an ordinary evening for the Neese family. She kissed her parents both good night and headed off to bed.
She Never Returned
However, Skylar wasn’t in her room the next morning. It was discovered that she snuck out the night before, but she never returned. Eventually, her parents filed a missing person report, and the search for Skylar began. But the next time they would see their daughter was in a grainy black and white video, sneaking out of her bedroom window. She had her purse over her shoulder and ran to a car that had been waiting there.
That day, her best friend Rachel went to summer camp, but her other friend Shelia was there every step of the way, trying to comfort the grieving parents. It seemed as though she was worried about her best friends. There are many theories about what happened to Skylar, but the truth was more shocking than you could imagine.
This is the story of Skylar Neese and a friendship gone horribly wrong.
Three High School Besties
Skylar Neese and Shelia Eddy were best friends since they were in second grade. The girls were so close growing up that they would just walk into each other’s houses freely, and none of their parents minded. They were pretty much like sisters.
The girls attended University High School together, just north of Morgantown, West Virginia. That’s where they met Rachel Shoaf, during Freshman year. Even though Skylar and Shelia knew each other since they were eight, they welcomed Rachel with open arms. Before they knew it, the trio was inseparable.
An Emotional Supporter
The girls were incredibly close, but Skylar was reportedly the emotional rock for Shelia and Rachel to lean on, especially since both of them had divorced parents. On the other hand, Skylar was an only child, and her beloved parents did everything for their little girl.
They nurtured her intelligence, helped her follow her dreams, and always encouraged her to be her own person. Like any other high school friend group, the girls certainly had their share of teenage drama. But nothing could prepare anyone for what these cold-hearted girls were capable of doing to Skylar.
Part of the Family
Skylar’s mother, Mary Neese, said, “Skylar thought she could save her” while discussing her daughter’s friendship with Shelia. “I would hear her on the phone giving Shelia all kinds of hell: ‘Don’t be stupid! What were you thinking?’ On the other hand, Shelia was so much fun. She was always silly and doing crazy stuff.”
Shelia was the fun girl in the group, and Skylar’s parents, Mary and David, accepted her as if she was one of their own. “Shelia didn’t even knock on the door when she came over. She just came on in.”
Rachel Shoaf Enters the Picture
Rachel Shoaf was the complete opposite of Shelia. She loved performing in school plays and came from a strict Catholic family. Although she was well-liked around the school and pretty popular, she idolized Shelia for some reason.
Maybe they bonded over their parents’ divorces, or perhaps it was Shelia’s carefree, wild attitude toward life. Rachel and Skylar just didn’t have the same freedom as she did. Either way, all three girls were great friends for a while, but things get complicated in groups of three. There is almost always one person feeling left out, especially in a high school setting.
Shelia’s a Bad Influence
Since she entered high school, Skylar’s other friends saw a shift in her. They said she changed and believed Shelia was a bad influence on her. However, she believed the change had more to do with the fact that she was growing up. She wasn’t just going to stop hanging out with Shelia.
But the same thing happened to Rachel in high school. Her other friends continuously told Rachel to stay away from Shelia, but Rachel wouldn’t listen. In fact, it got to the point where Skylar and Rachel seemed to detach from everyone else and got much closer to Shelia.
High School Drama
With a closer look at their social media posts, it became clear that there was some underlying tension between Skylar, Shelia, and Rachel. On May 31, 2012, Skylar Tweeted, “You’re a two-faced bitch and obviously f***ing stupid if you thought I wouldn’t find out.”
That Spring, she posted another Tweet: “too bad my friends are having lives without me.” It seemed like Shelia and Rachel were becoming closer and leaving her out. It definitely didn’t make Skylar feel good, but these things happen in high school. Friends fight all the time.
Mean Girls Shi*t
“Shelia and Skylar were fighting a lot,” according to Daniel Hovatter, one of their classmates at UHS. “One time sophomore year, me and Rachel were at practice for Pride and Prejudice, and Rachel had her phone up to her ear, and she was laughing. She was like, ‘Listen to this.’ Shelia and Skylar were fighting, but Skylar didn’t know Shelia had put her on three-way calling, and Rachel was listening in.”
The scenario is literally straight out of Mean Girls with Shelia Eddy as Regina George. However, things were about to get much worse than a burn book.
Where is Skylar?
Unclear security camera footage shows Skylar getting into a nondescript Sedan near a dumpster in the early morning hours of July 6th. When Skylar didn’t return home, her parents were worried, but when she didn’t show up to her shift at Wendy’s, they really started to panic. It was uncommon for the responsible teen.
Her parents saw her window open with a stool under it, so it only made sense that she snuck out after kissing them goodnight. They knew she didn’t run away; she had no reason to. Plus, she left her phone charger, toothbrush, and other things she would need if she didn’t plan to return. Her parents reported Skylar missing.
Later that day, Shelia called Mary and David Neese. Mary said: “She proceeded to tell me that her, Skylar, and Rachel snuck out the night before and they had driven around Star City, and getting high, and that the two girls dropped her back off at the house.”
She continued, “The story was they had dropped her off at the end of the road because she didn’t want to wake us up sneaking back in.” Sneaking out is totally normal for high school kids, so the story held up for a while.
Holes in the Story
Shelia claimed that she and Rachel picked up Skylar at about 11 p.m. and that they took her back home before midnight. But surveillance videos showed otherwise. The grainy footage showed that Skylar actually left her apartment at 12:30 a.m. and the car pulling away at 12:35 before never being seen again.
Shelia and her mom helped with search efforts to find Skylar on July 7th. Meanwhile, Rachel went off to Catholic summer camp for 2 weeks. This was bizarre; her best friend went missing, and she still went camping? Most people would be way too worried and scared to go anywhere.
Best Friends Forever
Mary Neese said that Shelia was really involved in the search. She always wanted to know any new leads in the investigation and continuously posted about her on social media, pleading that she comes home safe. Posts like, “rest easy, Skylar, you’ll ALWAYS be my best friend. I miss you more than you could ever know.”
One day, she and Mary Neese sat on Skylar’s bed and cried together. She was genuinely treated as part of the family. When police started to take a closer look at the girls, Skylar’s father told investigators to stop harassing them- that they are her best friends.
Rumors Flying Around School
Rumors were flying all over school. The biggest one was that Skylar went to a party and overdosed on heroin. Corporal Ronnie Gaskins was working on the case and said that he was told that Skylar died at the party. “People there panicked, and they disposed of the body.” With nothing else to work with, most of the investigators believed that was the case, except one.
Star City Police officer Jessica Colebank didn’t buy it. She trusted her instincts which said otherwise, and even called Shelia “wrong”: “Their stories were verbatim the same. No one’s story is exactly the same unless it’s rehearsed. Everything in my gut was, ‘Shelia is acting wrong. Rachel is scared to death.’”
Help From Social Media
Unfortunately, at that time, there was no legitimate reason to make an arrest. Police kept investigating, and Mary and David Neese were waiting in agony until the truth about their daughter would finally come to light.
Luckily, social media helped offer some clues since the three besties were extremely active on Facebook and Twitter. The day before Skylar went missing, she Tweeted, “sick of being at fu**ing home. Thanks “friends,” love hanging out with you all too.” And the day before, she wrote, “You doing s*** like that is why I can NEVER completely trust you.”
Obviously, Skylar felt like Shelia and Rachel were leaving her out, but rumors about why were still going around the high school. Many people believed that Shelia and Rachel were lovers and that Skylar knew about it. Maybe they wanted Skylar gone so she couldn’t tell anyone.
It was later confirmed by Skylar’s journal that she did, in fact, witness Shelia and Rachel making out. Apparently, the girls were having a sleepover and decided to drink. They snuck in their parent’s alcohol, which sounds normal enough for teenagers.
Keeping Her Quiet
However, Skylar wrote that watching Shelia and Rachel hooking up made her uncomfortable. She didn’t care about their sexual orientation or anything like that. It’s just that PDA makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable. Especially since she was the only other person there and probably felt like a third wheel. Maybe that’s why she felt like her friends were excluding her.
But would they really murder her to keep their secret? That sounds a bit extreme. The theory that made the most sense to investigators was that she died of a drug overdose at a party, but her friends knew something about it.
Could They Have Done it?
It looked like the girls’ fight offered some concrete evidence that Shelia and Rachel had something to do with Skylar’s disappearance. Or, at the very least, knew more than what they had led on.
Chris Berry is a state trooper who was assigned to the case in August 2012. He always believed that whoever did this wouldn’t be able to hide it forever. Berry had seen cases where murderers literally brag about their crimes. He had a huge feeling that this is one of those cases and knew that Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf would eventually confess.
Going Undercover, Online
Since there were so many rumors and speculation around the high school, Berry decided to create a fake online persona. He pretended to be an attractive teenager who attended West Virginia University in Morgantown, added the girls on Facebook and Twitter, and looked through everything.
He looked through all their posts on social media to find clues and to get an insight into Shelia and Rachel’s mental states. Investigators quickly gathered that Shelia was the perky one while Rachel was quiet and reserved.
Don’t Mess With Shelia and Rachel
Strangely, neither Shelia nor Rachel seemed to be upset that their best friend went missing. Shelia tweeted about random things and even posted a picture of her and Rachel. A lot of the posts were odd, like Shelia’s from November 5th, 2012: “No one on this earth can handle me and Rachel if you think you can, you’re wrong.”
Meanwhile, Shelia and Rachel starting seeing things on social media that made them nervous. Some people on Twitter straight-up accused them of murdering their best friend and that it’s only a matter of time before they get caught.
Catching Them in a Lie
Investigators continued bringing in Shelia and Rachel for interviews. Over time, the two became more and more secluded from their other friends, making them rely more and more on each other. Then, they realized that the car in the surveillance video belonged to none other than Shelia Eddy.
Authorities then cross-referenced surveillance footage from nearby businesses from that fateful summer night. They found the same car that was at Skylar’s apartment near a convenience store in Blackstone, West Virginia, west of Star City and Morgantown. However, Shelia and Rachel both claimed they went east that night. The girls were caught in a lie.
Not Enough for an Arrest
Lies were starting to come out, and evidence began pointing to Skylar’s best friends as being involved. Although police believed they had something to do with Skylar’s disappearance, they didn’t have enough to charge them. They needed to get a confession out of them and finally close the case.
Shelia was (eerily) dealing with the situation just fine. In retrospect, it’s disturbing how calm she was. Rachel, on the other hand, couldn’t deal with the stress. The guilt of covering up their crime really started to take a toll on her, and it got worse.
Rachel’s Mental Break Down
Something was definitely going on with Rachel, and it got so bad that her divorced parents actually moved back in together to help their daughter. On December 28th, 2012, things got worse, and the Monongalia Country police got a 911 call from Rachel’s frantic mother, Patria Shoaf:
“I have an issue with a 16-year-old daughter of mine. I can’t control her anymore. She’s hitting us, she’s screaming, she’s running through the neighborhood.” In the background, you could hear Rachel crying uncontrollably. “Give me the phone. No! No! This is over. This is over!” And then Patricia told the dispatcher, “My husband’s trying to contain her. Please hurry.”
A Sickening Confession
Rachel was picked up and sent to a mental institution. She was released 3 days later and she was questioned by the police. That’s when she finally told them the horrifying truth. The police thought that Skylar died of an overdose, so they were expecting the full story, but when Rachel started talking, investigators were stunned.
She blurted out, “we stabbed her.” She told the grim truth about the premeditated murder of Skylar Neese. According to Rachel, this was planned a month earlier. They were in science class when they came up with the idea that maybe they should kill her.
A Premeditated Murder
The plan was to carry out the murder right before Rachel left for summer camp, so things went according to plan. On the night of the murder, Rachel took a shovel from her dad’s house, and Shelia brought two kitchen knives along. They also made sure to bring a change of clothes and cleaning supplies.
When they picked Skylar up, the girl assumed that they were just driving around. They would often drive to Brave, a town nearby, to smoke marijuana in the woods. Shelia and Rachel did indeed have pipes with them – and knives.
One, Two, Kill
Even though it was a hot night in the middle of summer, Shelia and Rachel wore hoodies to hide the fact that they had knives. Skylar was unaware of their plot, so she thought nothing of it. When they got to their usual smoking spot, Skylar realized they forgot a lighter. She headed towards the car to get it, and the two girls got behind their victim.
Rachel said, “On three,” and they attacked Skylar. Rachel said that Skylar tried to run away, but they stabbed her knee so that she couldn’t get very far. Skylar’s heartbreaking fate was sealed, and her last world to her so-called best friends was “Why?”
The Big Question
Why? That was the big question that even Skylar wanted an answer to. When authorities asked Rachel what the reason was for this horrific crime, she simply said, “We just didn’t like her.” Her answer makes the whole thing even scarier.
That wasn’t even the worst part. Rachel said that at a certain point, they stopped stabbing her and watched her painfully bleed to death. The girls stabbed her at least 50 times and watched her slowly die. If that’s not a psychopath, I don’t know what is. How could two people have such cold hearts and absolutely no compassion for their poor friend?
They Just Didn’t Like Her
In retrospect, when police were looking through their social media posts, they noticed Shelia’s post that read, “We really did go on three.” Seriously? It’s like they are bragging about how disgusting they are. Another strange post said: “They say you remember the past better than it was.”
Looking at these posts now, everything seemed to be falling into place. The only thing they couldn’t understand was how two 16-year-old girls could commit such a despicable crime. Teenagers fight all the time, but the fact that it could end like this makes me terrified to have children.
Shelia Thinks They Got Away With it
Now that they knew what really happened, it was time to see what they could get out of Shelia. When Rachel confessed, authorities kept it on the down-low and concocted a plan. They decided to wiretap Rachel and ask her to speak to Shelia about their heinous crime.
Unfortunately, when it came down to it, Rachel chickened out. This just shows how much control Shelia had over her. It was as though she was under some sort of spell. At this point, she confessed to premeditated first-degree murder. The only thing that would help her is to get Shelia to talk, and she couldn’t even do that.
Finding Skylar Neese
In January 2013, Rachel took investigators to the rural woods and showed them where she and Shelia Eddy murdered Skylar Neese. She couldn’t remember the exact location, and everything was covered in snow. Initially, they couldn’t find the body, but Rachel’s confession was enough to charge her with murder.
A week later, authorities finally made a break in the case when they found the 16-year-old’s body in the woods, almost unidentifiable. It took until March 13 for the crime lab to officially confirm that it was Skylar Neese’s body.
A DNA Match
So now, the police not only had a confession, but they had a body. It didn’t take long for them to match blood samples in Shelia’s trunk to Skylar’s DNA, and on May 1st, 2013, authorities went to pick up Shelia; at the time, she was eating at Cracker Barrel with her mom.
Investigators waited outside the restaurant, and as soon as they walked outside, they put Shelia under arrest for first-degree murder. Lawyers didn’t even want to defend them.
Tried as Adults: Guilty
Despite being 16, Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf were both tried as adults for their evil crime. After murdering her best friend in cold blood, Shelia finally pleaded guilty in January 2014. She got a life sentence with a possibility of parole in 15 years. Hopefully, she won’t get off on parole and will stay behind bars for the rest of her miserable life.
Rachel got off a tad easier: guilty of second-degree murder and a 30-year sentence. The reason she got a lighter sentence was likely because she helped bring Shelia to justice, gave a full confession, and led detectives to the body. Still, nobody who could kill a person like that should ever see the light of day.
Daddy’s Lost Little Girl
David Neese said that these two cruel girls did not deserve any leniency from the courts. “They’re both sickos, and they’re both exactly where they need to be: away from civilization, locked up like animals. Because that’s what they are, they’re animals.”
I can’t even imagine how devastated these parents are. Their only child was taken away from them in the most horrific way, and nothing will ever fix their broken hearts. Once in a while, David visits a tree in the woods in Pennsylvania. It’s decorated with photos of his beautiful, beloved daughter.
Remembering Skylar Neese
The mourning father explained: “I wanted to take the horrible thing that happened here and try to turn it into something good – a place that people can come and remember Skylar and remember the good little girl that she was, and the little beast they treated her like.”
Skylar was a smart, beautiful girl with her entire life ahead of her. Her bright future was taken away from her by her so-called best friends. That’s what makes this story more horrific. If someone can do this to a person so close to them, imagine what they can do to a stranger.
When Skylar initially went missing, it took a little while for the missing person’s report to be filed because there was no evidence pointing to kidnapping. In fact, it looked more like a runaway case since Skylar had snuck out. After her death, the Neese family helped pass Skylar’s Law.
Skylar’s Law requires that the state issue Amber Alerts for all missing children, even if they aren’t believed to be kidnapped. This law might not have saved Skylar since she was dead before her parents realized she was missing, but this new system may have helped save lives by not wasting any time before sending an Amber Alert.