The Keddie Cabin Killer

By Anjali Nayak

In 1981 on the morning of April 12, Sheila Sharp returned to her cabin in the small town of Keddie and discovered the dead bodies of her mother Sue and brother John, as well as John’s friend Dana. All three had been bound with medical tapes and electrical cords. In another room, the three younger children, Rick, Greg, and James, were unharmed. Sheila’s sister Tina was nowhere to be found. Sheila ran to the Seabolt’s house, where she had slept the previous night. The murders of Sue, John, and Dana were notably vicious. Two bloodied knives and one hammer were found at the scene. Blood spatters all over the main part of the house indicated that the murderers had taken place in the living room. Sue was found lying on her side next to the living room sofa, nude from the waist down and gagged with a blue bandana and her own underwear, which had been secured with tape. On the other hand, John’s throat was slashed, while Dan had been manually strangled to death. Tina remained a missing person until April 1984, when her skull and several other bones were recovered at Camp Eighteen, California, near Feather Falls in Butte County. 

Main suspect and neighbor Martin Smartt, says that a claw hammer had mysteriously vanished from his house. After further questioning, Plumas County Sheriff Sylvester Thomas, stated that there was endless evidence that Martin was innocent and it seemed “to throw away all suspicion of him.” Including Martin Smartt, Sheriff Thomas interviewed many other locals and neighbors, including the Seabolt family, who recalled seeing a green van outside the house at 9:00 the night of the murders. In James’s account of events, told under hypnosis, he is said to have awoken from sounds coming from the living room, while sleeping with Rick and George. Investigating the commotion, James saw one man with a moustache and short hair, along with another clean – shaven man with long hair, both wearing glasses. According to the younger children, once the men entered the room, a fight ensued, after which Tina was taken out of the cabin’s back door by one of the men. 

In a 2008 documentary, Marilyn Smartt claimed that she suspected her husband and his friend John “Bo” Boude to be responsible for the murder. On the evening of the crimes, Marilyn claimed that she had left Martin and Boubede at a local bar around 11:00 pm and returned home to rest. At 2:00 am on the morning of April 12, Marilyn stated that she awoke to find the two burning an unknown item in the wood stove. She also alleged that Martin “hated Johnny Sharp with a passion.” However Sheriff Doug Thomas said he had personally interviewed Martin, and that Martin had passed a lie detector test. 

Today the case remains unsolved, if you have any information regarding this case, please contact the Plumas County SHeriff’s office at (530) 283-6360.