Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Death of Innocence - The Murder of Young Shanda Sharer

The Arrest

Shanda Sharer
Shanda Sharer

Before the Lawrences left the police station, they informed Sheriff Shipley of the Rippeys' plan to get an attorney. As he was deciding what to do next, Shipley received a missing person's report from Clark County. Shanda Sharer, 12 years old, had been reported missing by her parents some eight hours earlier. Shipley felt his heart sink as he read the description blonde hair, five feet tall, around 100 pounds. The description matched his Jane Doe. Shipley then started the paperwork to get warrants for the arrest of Laurie Tackett and Melinda Loveless. As investigators rushed to get their paperwork in order, they received word that the teeth of the victim matched the dental records of Shanda Sharer. No matter which direction the case went now, the hardest part was at hand Sheriff Shipley had to notify Shanda's parents.

Shanda's parents, Jackie Vaught and Steven Sharer, were excited at first when the police contacted them. They were certain that their little girl had been found and that they would be reunited with her; however, as soon as they saw the look on Detective Henry's face, they knew something terrible had happened. There is no right way to tell parents that their child is dead. Regardless of the eloquence or sensitivity of the messenger, the impact on the family remains the same. When Detective Henry told them Shanda was gone, Jackie became hysterical.

It was almost 2:00 a.m. by the time Sheriff Shipley and Detective Henry acquired arrest warrants for Tackett and Loveless. Laurie Tackett's vehicle had been spotted at Melinda's mother's house, so it was there that investigators decided to serve the warrants.

Melinda Loveless
Melinda Loveless

When the two men knocked on the door, Melinda's mother, Margie, answered. They quickly explained why they were there and asked her where the girls were. Margie told them they were upstairs, so the investigators made their way up to Melinda's room. Entering the room they found Melinda and Laurie in bed, asleep. Henry yelled for the two to get up. As they arose from their slumber, he informed them that they were both being arrested on charges of murder. The two teens were then led out of the house in handcuffs and transported to the police station, where they were booked and jailed.

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