May 11, 2016 11:51 AM by News Staff
An unsolved quadruple murder case went cold in Plumas County in the early '80's. But today, there are recent developments and the Plumas County Sheriff says he may be close to find the answers he's been looking for.
It's a 35 year old mystery that residents say still haunts the small town of Quincy. The investigation was re-opened by the Plumas County Sheriff and a retired investigator who say the community deserves answers.
On the morning of April 12, 1981, Sheila Sharp returned home to find her mother Glenna, 15 year old brother John, and 17 year old friend Dana Wingate brutally murdered.
The family had been living at a cabin in Keddie resort outside of Quincy for the past five months. 12-year-old Tina sharp was nowhere to be found.
“I worked the entire summer before the killings with the two boys that were killed in the cabin," Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood said.
Now sheriff, Hagwood said news of the killings shocked the quiet community in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
"There was a tremendous amount of fear and apprehension, the nature of it, had a crippling effect on the community,” Hagwood said.
The bodies were bludgeoned with a claw hammer, stabbed repeatedly and Wingate had been strangled.
Only the knife was found at the scene. The case went cold and Tina remained missing.
"The longer these crimes went unsolved,” Hagwood said. “I think understandably there was a corresponding level of frustration and a loss of confidence in law enforcement's ability to address it."
Investigators interviewed two suspects, Martin Smartt and John Boubede. Both were living in the area at the time. Both would be released, despite what Hagwood says was compelling evidence that was never used against them, particularly Smartt.
"We also came into possession of a letter. An original letter written by the main suspect in which he's appealing to his then wife, state that four people- have paid for their love with their lives," Hagwood recalled.
In 1984, the Butte County Sheriff's Department got an anonymous phone call saying Tina’s remains would be found near Feather Falls. It was there that authorities found parts of her skull and jawbone, but no further clues.
"That cassette tape of that recorded call was just recently discovered in a still-sealed evidence envelope that had never been opened since 1984," Hagwood said.
Hagwood said there are so many unanswered questions about why evidence wasn't used to arrest persons of interest at the time of the killings.
"I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but the more examination into the relationships and intersections between people of interest and law enforcement, it's reasonable to ask some difficult questions today that weren't asked in the past," he said.
Two years ago, Hagwood decided to do something about his suspicions. He asked Mike Gamberg, retired investigator for the Plumas County sheriff's department to help.
"We have the personal connection to what happened and now we both share a person responsibility in seeing that the victims and surviving family members get some answers," Hagwood said.