Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Haunted Places

Keddie Resort, Calif.: The Unsolved Nightmare in Cabin 28

Movie poster: The Strangers
Movie poster: The Strangers

Basis for the 2008 film The Strangers

On the morning of April 12, 1981, 14-year old Sheila Sharp left a next-door sleepover and returned to Cabin 28 at the popular Keddie Resort, where her family had been living for the past two months. What she found there would cast a permanent shadow over this bucolic vacation spot in the northern Sierra Nevadas of California. The walls and furniture had been destroyed and were covered with blood. Amid the chaos were the bound, mutilated and nearly unrecognizable bodies of her mother Glenna Susan "Sue" Sharp, 36, her brother John, 16, and his friend Dana Wingate, 17. Her sister Tina, 13 was missing; three younger children, her two other brothers and their friend, were unharmed in another room.

John Sharp and Dana Wingate had hitchhiked to Keddie from Quincy, Calif., the night before, possibly after a party. Either awaiting them, accompanying them, or soon to follow them were the killers, who used duct tape and electrical wire to truss Sue, John and Dana Wingate, as well as Tina Sharp. Then, over the course of ten hours, the killers brutally attacked the group—and their surroundings—with steak knives and a claw hammer. The next cabin was a mere 15 feet away, but neighbors and passersby didn't hear a thing.

Cabin 28
Cabin 28

Tina Sharp wasn't there when police arrived, but subsequent investigation showed that she had been there part of the night. The friend who'd been in the other room was able to convince police that Tina had indeed been there, and helped them determine that there had been two assailants and put together sketches of the pair. The killers were never caught. Some think the neighbors who'd invited Susan Sharp to a bar that night (she declined) were involved—the list of accusers at one time included one of the men's own wife. Other locals whisper about Satanic worship; yet others suggest there was a drug connection, either through the two young men or in a case of mistaken identity.

In a gruesome coda, Tina's head was found three years later near a waterfall fifty miles down the hill. The case has never been solved.

The once-welcoming Keddie Cabins would subsequently fall into disrepair. Longtime owner, Gary Mollath, tried to sell the place and renovated it, but the tragedy made the once-beautiful place unattractive. After a period of decay and infestation by squatters, he again rented some of the cabins, but Cabin 28 remained empty, becoming the object of rumors of hauntings. Locals say they've heard moans and the sound of slamming doors from the abandoned building and seen shadowy figures. Mollath's stepdaughter recounts once seeing the word "no" scrawled on the house's door, with a pitchfork propped beside it—the next day, both the writing and the tool were gone. In 2004, Mollath razed Cabin 28.

Annette Martin, a psychic in nearby Campbell, warns that victims of violent, unsolved crimes may stick around because their traumatized spirits don't understand that they're dead. She maintains that this mysterious "no" was the victims' continuing cry against their assailants—and that simply razing a building won't quiet its ghosts.

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