One fateful night on Saturday, April 11, 1981, a family was attacked in the rural town of Keddie, California. Three people were murdered that evening, and one additional person remained missing until years later. Although the Keddie cabin murders are still a mystery, new information and evidence have surfaced in the last decade which may help solve the crime and bring justice to the victims.
Note: There is a lot of information and misinformation published online about the Keddie murders. Although the author has attempted to sort through it with due diligence, even seemingly credible sources do not agree on some details. In the case of inaccurate reporting here, please contact us.
Glenna “Sue” Sharp was a single mother with five children. In 1979, she left her abusive husband. Her brother, who would help her and the children start a new life, lived in Quincy, California, about 150 miles north of Sacramento. So she packed her kids up and moved across the country from North Carolina to the Golden State.
Sue and the kids lived in a trailer park for a short time, but then she decided to move just five miles from Quincy into the mountains to a place known as the Keddie Resort. Once a busy railroad terminal in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Keddie had lost much of its population after the railroad closed down. The town tried to reinvent itself by becoming a recreational camping/hiking resort area. However, when this failed, the Keddie Resort owner Gary Mollath turned a series of cabins into low-income rental housing.
The Smarts in Keddie Resort
With $250 a month from the Navy (Sue’s ex-husband was in the military when they divorced) and her part-time income from a job at the Quincy Elks Lodge, Sue rented Cabin 28. In the fall of 1981, she took up permanent residence there with her children: John, 15; Sheila, 14; Tina, 12; Rick 10; and Greg, 5.
Sue was busy with work, and she also took a typing class for which she received financial aid. Neighbors said that for the most part, Sue kept to herself. Nevertheless, the family was integrating well. The children were attending school in Quincy and were making friends.
In their cabin, there were two bedrooms. The girls shared one, and the younger boys shared the other. The oldest boy, John, got the basement all to himself.
April 11, 1981
On April 11, 1981, Sue and the kids were in and out of Cabin 28 throughout the day. Sue’s younger boys were planning a sleepover with a neighborhood boy, Justin Eason. They were hanging out at the house since the afternoon. The oldest boy, John, and his friend Dana had spent the day in Quincy.
Around 1:30 pm, Sue and Sheila went to pick up the boys in Quincy, but at 3:30, the two teenagers left again. They had planned to return home later that evening. Sue urged them not to hitchhike. However, passersby spotted John and Dana on a street corner hitchhiking home around 9:30-10:00 that evening.
Sue spent the later afternoon with Sheila and Tina. In the evening, the two girls went to the Seabolt family house next door in Cabin 27, just 15 feet away, to visit their friends and watch TV. Sheila had plans to spend the night at the Seabolt’s. Tina, on the other hand, went home around 9:30 and planned to sleep in her own bed. Soon, things took a nightmarish turn.
The Keddie Cabin Murders
The next morning at around 7 am, Sheila returned home from her sleepover at the Seabolt cabin. When she opened the front door to the living room, she discovered a massacre. Blood was everywhere. The living room was in complete chaos, and Sue, John, and John’s friend, Dana, lay dead on the floor. Electrical cording and medical tape bound their wrists and ankles.
Upon discovery of the gruesome scene, Sheila ran back to the Seabolt family to get help. While the adults tried to calm the distraught child, their teenage son, Jamie, went to Cabin 28 to see if anyone was still alive. The three boys in the house, Rick, Greg, and their friend, Justin, were all in safe the bedroom. They were still asleep and seemingly unaware of what happened. Jamie ushered them out of the house through the bedroom window to protect them from the horrifying crime scene.
Police arrived around 8:00 am and began their investigation of the Keddie cabin murders. Sue and John suffered similar types of wounds. Their throats were slashed, and they both had multiple stabbings and blunt force trauma to the head. Dana, too, had severe head injuries. However, the killer had also strangled him.
Sue had been gagged deeply with a bandana and her underwear. Tape secured the gag in place. She was naked from the waist down, but there was no sign of sexual assault. Evidence indicates that she was initially in a revealing pose, but someone moved her and covered her body with a yellow blanket. It is unclear at what point this occurred or by whom.
The boys’ bodies had also been moved.
Evidence Inside Cabin 28
Given the extent of the brutality of the Keddie cabin murders, there were quite a few pieces of evidence left behind. Investigators discovered two bloody knives, a hammer, and a plastic piece from a BB gun. The weapons included a steak knife that came from Sue’s kitchen. They also found a bloody fingerprint on the handrail leading down from the back door.
Blood was all over the victims, the floors, walls, ceiling, both bedroom doors, and railing of the outside stairs. However, the perpetrators did not leave behind any of their own blood. If they suffered any injuries during the event, it wasn’t serious. On the other hand, they did leave some DNA on a piece of tape.
Due to the chaos, it took police quite a few hours before anyone realized that Tina was nowhere to be found. There were some bloodstains on her bedding. This suggested that she might have been kidnapped from her bed after the murders. Unfortunately, since it had been many hours since her disappearance, the chance of anyone finding her nearby was slim.
Were There Witnesses to the Keddie Murders?
Some neighbors near Cabin 28 reported that muffled screams or groans woke them up between 1:00 am and 2:00 am. However, they couldn’t determine where the sounds came from and went back to sleep.
The most incredible aspect of the Keddie cabin murders, police concluded, was that the three boys said they slept through the ordeal, despite the killers’ ruthlessness. It was possible that the murderers were unaware of the three remaining boys in the cabin or was aware of them but let them live. Investigators also theorized that someone may have interrupted the murders before the culprits had a chance to move on to the younger children. Later, it would come out that maybe not all the boys had been asleep.
Coroner and Police Findings
Sue had put up a fight against the perpetrators and had defensive wounds on her arms. Oddly, the boys did not have defensive wounds or blood under their bindings. Therefore, it appears they did not have a chance to fight back, and all of their injuries happened after the killers bound them.
Findings confirmed that the weapons used on the victims’ heads appeared to be two different hammers and a BB gun in Sue’s case. The plastic piece that the police found in Cabin 28 matched up to a Daisy 880 BB gun. Additionally, the same gun matched the impressions that the butt of the gun left on Sue’s head.
Despite the plethora of evidence and a few suspects, no arrests took place. Many people believe that the police were either incompetent or corrupt and covered up the crime for some reason. They had failed to log numerous pieces of evidence and overlooked leads.
Around a month after the Keddie murders took place, Justin, one of the survivors, told his therapist that he was having dreams about the murder. In his dream, he had tried to stop the bleeding in Sue’s chest with towels, and he covered her with a blanket.
Was it possible that he witnessed the Keddie cabin murders or awoke at some point during the night but had blocked it out? He was placed under hypnosis in an attempt to recall any details of the night. Justin reported that he was watching TV in the boys’ room before he fell asleep. He began hearing noises out in the living room and claimed to have seen Sue with two men. One of them was tall with blonde hair and a mustache, while the other was shorter, dark-haired, and clean-shaven.
He recalled that both men wore glasses and that the two older boys, John and Dana, came home while Sue was talking to the men. Somehow, this erupted into a bout of violence between them, which resulted in the murders.
Justin also claimed that Tina had arrived shortly after, and one of the men abducted her out the back door.
Although the story is intriguing, Justin may have gotten information about the case from the media during the four weeks since the murders. Additionally, some sources say that on the hypnosis tapes, the police made suggestions to Justin during the session. (Whelan).
Tina’s Body Recovered
Tina was thought to have been present at the crime scene of the Keddie cabin murders. The clues suggested that the perpetrators had abducted her. Because she was a minor, the initial search for her involved the FBI. Oddly, they quit investigating after about a month.
It wasn’t until three years later on April 22, 1984, when Ronald Pedrini reported he was in the woods about 90 miles southwest of Keddie when he stumbled upon something suspicious. He was supposedly collecting cans and found a portion of a human skull and mandible.
Investigators initially thought it may belong to a Native American person. However, an anonymous call to the Sheriff’s office reported the remains as belonging to Tina Sharp. Two months later, a forensic analysis of the teeth confirmed that they were indeed Tina’s remains.
Near the remains, detectives also discovered a pair of jeans with a missing back pocket, a blue jacket, a blanket, and an empty surgical tape dispenser. However, none of the evidence helped the investigators find the killers or determine how she died.
A person matching Justin’s description became a primary suspect in the investigation — Justin’s stepfather, Martin Smartt, aka “Marty.” Marty, his wife Marilyn, and Marilyn’s two sons lived in Cabin 26 near the Sharp’s house just across the lane. The couple was also taking the same typewriting class that Sue enrolled in.
Most descriptions of Marty suggest that he was an unsavory individual with a criminal record and a mean demeanor. He admitted that he had a problem with his temper, and Marilyn had claimed that he tried to run her and her son over.
During his interrogation, Marty reported to the police that his hammer with a blue handle had gone missing. He also told investigators that his stepson, Justin, might have seen something on the night of the murder without the killer detecting the boy. However, investigators didn’t address these statements, and the police did not arrest or interview Marty again. After his interrogation, Marty Smartt left Keddie and went to live in Reno for a time. Then he moved to Oregon and died there in 2000 from cancer-related issues.
Later, information surfaced that Marty was a personal friend of the local county sheriff, Doug Thomas, at the time of the crime. More eerily, it appears that Marty had actually confessed to the murders to two different people. However, this information did not surface until 2016, when new discoveries reignited the case.
Marty’s counselor at the Veterans Administration in Reno told police that Marty confessed to killing Sue and Tina. However, Marty had said he did not murder the two boys. According to the story, Marty said he was angry that Sue had convinced Marilyn to leave him. On the other hand, his reason for killing Tina was that she had seen everything. As a result, he couldn’t allow her to live. Although the counselor initially reported Marty’s statements to police not long after the killings, the police did not log the information as evidence.
A few years later, Marty’s wife, Marilyn, said that she had found Tina’s bloody jacket in their basement and had given it to the police during the earlier investigation. However, there is no record of this ever happening. If she did turn in a jacket, the police, once again, did not acknowledge it as evidence.
Marilyn later said in a 2008 documentary that she believed Marty was the perpetrator and that he had even confessed in writing to her. In a letter, Marty purportedly said:
I’ve paid the price of your love and now that I’ve bought it with four people’s lives, you tell me we are through. Great! What else do you want?
The police never admitted this letter as evidence.
John Boubede, “Bo,” was a friend of Marty’s who had been living at Marty’s house. The two had only met weeks before while Bobede was receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at the nearby Veterans Administration Hospital.
On the night of the Keddie cabin murders, Marilyn, Boubede, and Marty had been out together at the local bar. All three returned home later, but Marty and Bo went out again. When they returned to the bar much later, they were wearing suits, as if they had spent the evening at a business meeting. One theory is that they really wanted people to notice them.
During the interrogation after the murders, Boubede told police that he worked as a police officer in Chicago for 18 years. However, this turned out to be untrue. He also exaggerated about how long he had lived in Keddie. Additionally, he said that Marilyn was his niece, which was also false. Some sources claim that Boubede had a crush on Sue, who supposedly rejected him twice.
Despite his lies and inconsistencies in his stories, police cleared him as a suspect. Later, investigators learned that Boubede had a criminal record. Moreover, he was working as an enforcer with the mafia in Chicago. Investigators believed he was cooperating with the Department of Justice as an informant. Therefore, it may not be a coincidence that the Department of Justice in Sacramento stepped into the Keddie case early. But curiously, instead of sending homicide detectives, they sent organized crime investigators to Keddie.
It is unclear what evidence links Boubede to the mafia. Nonetheless, it raises many questions. Was this why detectives never adequately investigated Boubede? Is this why detectives seemed to turn a blind eye to many clues and disregarded evidence? Were they protecting their asset?
John Boubede left Keddie after the murders and returned to Chicago, where he died in 1988.
New Developments in the Keddie Cabin Murders
In 2013, the Plumas County Sheriff, Greg Hagwood, hired Mike Gamberg as a Special Investigator. Gamberg was a young deputy when the Keddie cabin murders occurred. However, he did not have any involvement in the case at the time. Since his recruitment in 2013, he has made several new discoveries.
Also in 2013, he found a recording of the anonymous 911 phone call that came in after Tina’s remains surfaced. Mysteriously, it lay at the bottom of an unopened evidence box. Gamberg sent the tape to other law enforcement agencies for analysis and possible leads.
A few years later, in 2016, a man sweeping around with a metal detector found a hammer in a dried-up pond near Keddie’s entrance. It matched the description of the one Marty gave in his interrogation. Sheriff Hagwood believes that the location couldn’t have been accidental and that someone intentionally threw it in the water. Gamberg also discovered a hunting knife in Keddie under some junk and sent that in for further analysis.
Then in April 2018, Gamberg matched the DNA from the murder scene to a known living suspect. Since then, no arrests have been made, and the names have never been released to the public. Nevertheless, Gamberg indicates that six people may have been involved. Two suspects, Marty and Bo, died. Of the suspects who are still alive, Gamberg said:
They better batten down the hatches because we’re coming. We’re continuing with the investigation, and we’re doing interviews, and we have several persons of interest.
The results of the analyses and tests are unknown. As to the person who gave John and Dana a ride home, Gamberg indicates that he identified a woman and has interviewed her. (Metcalf: 2018).
Gamberg and the owner of Keddie28.com (he goes by Dmac) believe that Sue Sharp and Marty Smartt were having an affair. Gamberg thinks that at the same time, Sue was counseling Marilyn to leave Marty. Dmac does not agree. Nonetheless, some investigators believe that Marilyn was somehow complicit in the murders. Indeed, it’s possible that Marilyn learned about an affair between Marty and Sue. The statement from Marty’s letter, “What else do you want?,” sounds like Marty is asking, In addition to what you already asked for, what more do you want me to do?
Marilyn moved out of Cabin 26 the day after the murders. Investigators claim that she was having her own affair at the time. She remarried and is still alive.
Sue Sharp’s surviving children left California to live with an aunt. Unfortunately, they later went into foster care as their aunt already had several children, and she later decided she couldn’t handle more. Sheila spoke about the horrific incident in several interviews. She mentioned, however, that she doesn’t talk to her brothers about it to protect them. Relatives of the victims and the public anxiously await the day when investigators bring justice to the killings of Sue, Tina, and Dana.
Over the years, the Keddie Resort fell into disrepair, and in 2004, Cabin 28 was demolished. The entire site has since been abandoned.
Corona, Marcella. “Clipping from Reno Gazette-Journal,” April 13, 2016.
DMAC. “Keddie Case Cabin 28.” keddie28.com.
Little, Jane Braxton. “New Evidence Revives Plumas County Quadruple Murder Case.” The Sacramento Bee, May 7, 2016.
Metcalf, Victoria. “Keddie Murders Revisited – Following the Clues,” May 3, 2018.
Metcalf, Victoria. “Keddie Murders Revisited Part 1: New Evidence Discovered Links Living Suspect to Grisly Scene,” November 15, 2019.
Whelan, Micheal. “The Keddie Murders,” October 27, 2019.