Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Death of Innocence - The Murder of Young Shanda Sharer

The Killing Field

Intersection where body was discovered
Intersection where body was discovered

On the morning of Saturday, January 11, 1992, Canaan, Ind., resident Donn Foley and his brother Ralph were quail hunting in nearby Jefferson County when they spotted a strange object in a fallow soybean field near Lemon Road.

Ralph's first thought was that the object was a body, though logic dictated that it were something else. Even so, the two men went for a closer look. At first glance it appeared to be a rubber blow-up doll someone had discarded and burned, but upon closer inspection the reality became horribly apparent. The object was not a doll, but the charred remains of a human body.

Apart from a pair of panties, the body was naked and extensively burnt from the waist up. The legs of the victim were spread as if they had been posed, and the arms were stretched skyward with clenched fists. The victim appeared to have been a young woman, but the chest had been burned so badly that it was difficult to tell. Most horrifying of all was the victim's face the eyes were empty, without color; and the mouth was wide open, exposing teeth tightly clenched on the victim's tongue. The scene was brutal, one that neither man would soon forget.

At 10:55 a.m., Chief Deputy Randy Spry from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in Madison received Foley's call and set out for Lemon Road. Since there had not been a murder in Jefferson County in over three years, the deputy was somewhat skeptical of the Foley brothers' report. However, after he arrived at the scene, Spry's doubts were erased, and he immediately radioed headquarters to request Sheriff Richard "Buck" Shipley's presence at the scene.

Sheriff Richard "Buck" Shipley
Sheriff Richard "Buck" Shipley

It took more than an hour for Shipley to reach the crime scene from his home in Madison. At first glance he was appalled. He had seen many dead bodies during his time on the force, but never one in such a grisly state. It was immediately obvious that the Sheriff's Office did not have the resources to handle the investigation properly, so Shipley radioed the Indiana State Police for assistance.

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