Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Death of Innocence - The Murder of Young Shanda Sharer

Forensic Expert on the Scene

Indiana State Police Detective Steve Henry and forensic expert Sergeant Curtis Wells arrived at the crime scene just after 1:00 p.m. Wells recorded the crime scene with a video camera and took several still photographs. After taking castings of various unknown tire tracks and footprints, he began a cursory examination of the body.

With Sgt. Wells' extensive knowledge of forensics, it was apparent to him that a flammable substance had been used to destroy physical evidence. Examining the genital area of the victim, he noted that the victim's panties had been pulled to one side and that the condition of the body indicated some type of anal molestation, either prior to or immediately after death. As Wells was examining the body, Detective Henry discovered a melted plastic bottle containing trace amounts of gasoline lying in the weeds nearby. When the coroner arrived on the scene, Wells collected hair samples from the victim and removed a ring from one of the victim's fingers. Examining the ring free from the victim's hand, Wells discovered it was a Jeffersonville High School class ring with the initials SGH engraved inside.

According to the book Cruel Sacrifice, by Aphrodite Jones, the initial feeling among the investigators was that the killing was the result of a bungled drug deal, but they could not understand why the body had been left in plain sight. If the killer or killers had simply carried the body another 20 yards into the brush, it might not have been discovered for years. The most plausible explanation was that whoever committed the murder had assumed the body would be rendered unidentifiable by the fire.

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