Rachel Shoaf gets 30 years for murder of Skylar Neese

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A West Virginia teenager was sentenced to prison Wednesday for her role in the stabbing death of her friend, Skylar Annette Neese, 16, of Star City, W.Va., in 2012.


Rachel Shoaf, 17, of Morgantown, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder May 1, 2013, was sentenced by Judge Russell Clawges to 30 years in prison. Shoaf’s accomplice, Shelia Eddy, 18, also of Morgantown, was sentenced to life in prison Jan. 24 after pleading guilty to first-degree murder.


“You can never ever say you’re sorry to me or my wife, because you’re not. There will never be closure for us as far as you two are concerned. You defied our trust. We trusted you with Skylar’s life and this is how you treat us,” said Dave Neese, Skylar’s father, when asked what he had to say in response to an apology Shoaf directed to him and his wife, Mary, at her sentencing. Dave Neese said Shoaf was only sorry for getting caught, not for killing his daughter. Eddy did not speak at her sentencing.


Shoaf led investigators to Neese’s body along a rural road in Wayne Township, Greene County, Jan. 16, 2013. Shoaf and Eddy lured Neese, their longtime friend, from her home in West Virginia with the intent of killing her. Shoaf told police Neese believed they were taking her somewhere to party. Once they arrived at the isloated site in Greene County, Shoaf and Eddy began to stab Neese to death at a prescribed time. They attempted to bury her body but found the ground too hard. Instead, they covered her with brush.


At Shoaf’s sentencing hearing Monongalia Prosecuting Attorney Marcia Ashdown recounted the gruesome details Shoaf gave investigators.


It was Shoaf who tackled Neese as she attempted to flee from the attack, Ashdown told the court. In the early days of the search for Neese it was Eddy who visited Neese’s parents to keep a watchful eye on what investigators knew. In earlier statements, Mary Neese said Eddy offered comfort and cried with them while knowing what she and Shoaf had done.


“Murder by a stranger is horrible, murder by a friend is unthinkable,” Ashdown said.


As for a motive, Shoaf told police that Skylar was in the way.


She knew their secrets, “whatever secrets teenagers have,” Ashdown said Wednesday. “Rachel stated to police that Skylar was in the way of her friendship, the friendship Rachel and Shelia had together.”


“Murders are murders and every murder is a loss to a family,” Ashdown said. “But this murder, due to the youthfulness of the victim and the perpetrators, along with the evil character of it,” make this so hard to understand, Ashdown said.


Eddy is currently being held in the Lakin Correctional Center in West Columbia, W.Va. Because she committed the crime while still a juvenile, she will be eligible for parole on May 1, 2018, after serving 15 years. This is due to a mercy provision for cruel and unusual punishment in the U.S. Constitution. However, at Eddy’s sentencing, Clawges told her parole is only a “possibility.”


Shoaf will be held in a juvenile facility until she reaches her 18th birthday and then she will be transferred to an adult prison. She will be eligible for parole after 10 years. Dave Neese vowed to oppose either girl’s release when that time comes.


“You both are where you need to be. I hope you get help and I hope you live a rotten, rotten life, because I am,” Dave Neese said. “I really wanted 40 years, (the maximum Shoaf could have received) but, 30 is good. I mean 10 years is not going to make or break anything. She’s not going to get out when she goes up for probation anyway.”


Denying her defense attorney’s request to sentence Shoaf as a juvenile, Clawges said “it would not be justice.”


The book, “The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese: The Truth Behind the Headlines,” written by the Neeses and Daleen Berry and Geoffrey Fuller, will be available in print in June. A condensed version is currently available for download on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.


Mary and Dave Neese continue to share their daughter’s story in the hopes of expanding Skylar’s Law, currently a West Virginia addition to the Amber Alert System, into all 50 states. Under Skylar’s Law, the Amber Alert coordinator, not law enforcement agencies, determine if an Amber Alert should be issued. Police did not initially believe Neese was in danger so no Amber Alert was sent out.


Skylar Neese’s story will be featured March 7 on Dateline NBC and on an episode of the Dr. Phil Show to be announced.


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