The Keddie Cabin Murders – The Infamous Story of Cabin 28

After the Sharps moved to Cabin 28, they aspired to a new beginning. However, unbeknownst to them, they were only five months away from an event so tragic that it would become one of the most gruesome crimes in California’s history.

The Keddie Cabin Murders – The Infamous Story of Cabin 28
Cabin 28 - Source:

The idea of a family is strange. While we all know what it is, we are often unaware of how differently everyone perceives it.
Outside the realm of our social understanding, remain anomalous elements that are difficult to portray in art and literature.
Something always seems unfinished to convey the rest of the picture.

Memories differ in correlation, as each individual character holds onto unseen threads of connection. Interchanging experiences of shared moments and silent conversations create a mirror of who a family is, allowing them to coexist.

We are often blessed to ignore the idea of us being transient. Not knowing whether the artifacts collected along the way will someday become discolored heirlooms to those who follow or maybe become lost in time without remembrance. A family provides stability juxtaposed by an awaiting vulnerability to strike. And when reality kicks in, the closest a family will know of bonds is grief.

Picture a cabin as it witnesses the calming Sierra Nevada mountains through its windows, nestled amidst the woods and the foliage of the stunning Feather River, immortalized in art as a serene masterpiece.

A house can be synonymous with a family as an abstract. But this, unfortunately, is the story of a home forever tied to a dark ending.
It is the story of the Sharps family, who witnessed nothing but a bleak tragedy five months after their move to Cabin 28.

The Sharps Family - Credit:

Their past life was marked by abuse, Glenna Susan Sharp, also known as Sue Sharp, along with her children, John, Tina, Rick, and Greg—fled from Connecticut to escape an abusive father.
They traveled cross-country moving in with friends until they settled in Northern California staying at a trailer house formerly occupied by Sue's brother. Located at Claremont Village in Quincy. Holding hope for a new beginning.

In the fall of 1980, Sue was thrilled to leave the cramped trailer moving to converted low-income housing in a quiet resort in rural Sierra Nevada. The town's name was Keddie, and Cabin 28 was their destiny.

The children sought solace amidst their new hometown.
They found joy in simple explorations of the forest, stream, and nearby railroad tracks.
Four months later her daughter Sheila would reunite with the family back from Oregon.

A family's memories can seem elusive, almost transcending time.
And telling stories can barely capture them. But when all left are but photographs, it is not an end in itself. A picture can still carry the weight of imagination, speculating what a Family's moments of happiness could have been. Those moments taken for granted might, unfortunately, be a precursor to the end of good times. And there is no way to see them.

Susan Sharp - Source:

36-year-old Glenna Sue was a resilient woman, now raising her children alone. Financially struggling, she relied only on herself to raise her children without assistance.

She enrolled in a California Education Training Act program, receiving a small stipend. As part of the education program, she took part in a typing class at Feather River College.

The money she received barely covered the rent, she received $250 from her ex-husband, food stamps, and social welfare. However, she wasn't home all the time, but she held onto hope for opportunities and positive change.

Sue mostly kept to herself. Those who knew her described her as an attractive but quiet woman. The family's new neighbors, the Meeks, soon became good friends with the Sharps.

After moving to the area, it was evident that she wanted to make connections, frequently arranging meet-ups and spending time at a local bar known as The Back Door, several of whom she tried meeting seemed at odds with her character and background.

15-year-old Johnny, the eldest, was Sue's son from a previous marriage. He attended high school and had a close bond with his younger siblings. At their new home, John was happier than ever; he claimed an unfinished room downstairs adjacent to the utility area in the basement. His room could only be accessed by the back staircase from the outside.

Sue and her youngest daughter, 12-year-old Tina, occupied the rear bedroom across from the kitchen. Meanwhile, the two younger boys, 10-year-old Rick and 5-year-old Greg shared a bedroom at the front of the cabin near the living room. As her eldest daughter, 14-year-old Sheila, returned from Oregon, Sue would sleep in a twin bed while the girls continued to share the queen-sized bed. But sometimes Sue would sleep on the pull-couch in the living room, falling asleep in front of the TV.

On April 11th, 1981, at 11:30 a.m., Sue Sharp and her children Sue, Sheila, and Greg drove off from their friends, the Meeks family house, to pick Rick up from a baseball tryout 6 miles away in Quincy. On their way back, they picked up John and Dana, who were hitchhiking. However, after arriving home again, the two boys hitchhiked back to visit some friends in Quincy.

When the evening came by, Sheila went to stay overnight next door with the Seabolt family in cabin 27. She planned to accompany her neighbors to church the next day while Sue remained home, keeping company with Rick, Greg, and their young friend, 12-year-old Justin Smartt.

17-year-old Dana Wingate was like an older brother to the younger Sharp children. As a close friend of John Sharp, Dana would occasionally stay with the family. On that particular day, he had planned to spend the night at their home.

At 9:30 p.m., Tina, who had been watching television at the Seabolt residence, returned home for what should have been a regular night like many before.

Cabin 28 Interior - Source: Wikimedia Commons

At around 8:00 a.m. on April 12th, 1981, the mountains echoed with the chatter of birds. Returning from the Seabolts' house, Sheila opened the door to a grim reality no one could ever be prepared for. On the living room carpet lay the bodies of Sue, John Sharp, and Dana Wingate, brutally murdered in the ransacked cabin.

Startled by the blood-soaked scene, Sheila screamed as she fled from the cabin to their neighbor, the Seabolts, seeking help as the Sharps' home had no phone. She frantically recounted what she had witnessed, urging them to call the police.

Their Neighbor, Jamie Seabolt, briefly entered the house via the back door to check if anyone remained alive. Unbelievably, Rick and Greg, Sheila's two younger brothers, and their friend Justin were discovered unharmed.

Authorities soon arrived at the Keddie Resort shortly after receiving the distress call. During the initial crime scene response, it would take them hours to realize that Sue's 12-year-old daughter, Tina Sharp, was nowhere to be found.

The Sheriff's Office has been under scrutiny since the beginning due to errors during the investigation; the crime scene was allegedly mishandled.

John Sharp, Tina Sharp, and Dana Wingate - Source:, Credit: Feather River Bulletin

The walls have witnessed unspeakable brutality.

Inside the house, chaos reigned. Furniture was overturned, and the walls bore the marks of unspeakable brutality.
Blood spatter painted a gruesome picture, streaking across furniture, staining Sue's bedding, and smearing doorknobs. Even the ceiling was not spared, marked with crimson evidence of the violence.
Blood was also found on both bedroom doors and the handrail of the backyard stairs.

The three bodies were left on the green carpeted floor, bound with electrical cords and medical tapes not belonging to the cabin.
The injuries were so brutal that it was impossible to identify the victims by their faces.
To describe the scene as grotesque would be an understatement.

There were no signs of forced entry. A hammer, a plastic piece from a pellet gun, and two kitchen knives, including a steak knife from Sue's kitchen, were recovered at the scene, believed to be murder weapons.

A yellow blanket was draped over Sue's lifeless body near the living room sofa. She was partially nude from the waist down. Her mouth was gagged with a blue bandana, her underwear, and tape held in place with an extension cord. She had been inflicted with a chest stab wound and a blow to her head using a pellet rifle. Her throat displayed a horizontal injury that cut through her larynx and scraped her spine.

There were signs that someone had forcefully repositioned her, given the defensive injuries discovered on her arms.

Sue and John Sharp were subjected to blows from a claw hammer and multiple stab wounds in their bodies and throats.

Dana Wingate, on the other hand, suffered a beating with a different hammer. He had also been strangled to death.

The exact number of attackers involved was unknown.

The autopsy findings would later indicate that Sue and John succumbed to puncture wounds and blunt-force trauma. Whereas Dana met his demise due to asphyxiation.

They have endured horrific torment.

Although the sequence of events remained unknown, investigators speculated and reconstructed several narratives based on the available evidence.

Sue and her daughter might have been asleep in bed when the commotion began as her glasses were left on the bedside table.

Sue and Tina were forced out into the living room where the atrocity took place.

Red marked footprints suggested the victims were mobile at some point.

Lone pools of blood on the living room floor and the sofa pillow indicated that the assailants moved the victims' bodies post-mortem.

It was assumed that the victims had been taunted. Since the living room walls bore knife punctures aligned at approximately eye level.

Tina had likely witnessed the tragic demise of her family— perhaps she was the one to cover Sue with the blanket. And then forced to leave with the assailants.

The Hammer and Knife Collected - Source: Wikipedia

The evidence failed to reveal any clear motives, leaving investigators as baffled as the rest of the community.

In the absence of definitive answers, rumors began to circulate. Some attributed the murders to a ritualistic motive, while others suspected a substance-related feud driven by personal vendettas. Despite these speculations, the Plumas County Sheriff maintained that substances were not involved, and no evidence supported such claims in the aftermath of the killings. Meanwhile, various theories emerged, casting suspicion on family members and prompting questions about how the perpetrators gained access without leaving any trace.

It was indicated that for the subject to gain and maintain control of the victims, he would have had to have some assistance.

All the clues led to dead ends, with the sole remaining evidence being DNA traces on the medical tape used to restrain the victims. Strangely, despite the frenzy of the scene and the violence that ensued, the perpetrators left no other DNA evidence behind.

During the initial assessment, many local residents and neighbors reported seeing a green van parked near the Sharps' residence around 9:00 p.m. The Seabolts, with whom Sheila had stayed overnight in the neighboring cabin, didn't hear any alarming sounds. However, a couple residing in adjacent Cabin 16 reported being abruptly awakened at 1:15 a.m. due to faint screams.

Knowing that Rick, Greg, and Justin were in the house, it made sense that they must have heeded the commotion to any capacity. However, that wasn't the case.

Rick and Greg were asleep and unaware, and so was Justin until he changed his story.

The investigators were convinced that the three boys must know something, yet they remained afraid to discuss it.

Justin Smartt offered inconsistent accounts of the evening. It remained uncertain whether he actually witnessed the murders or if his dreams merely reflected media reports echoing around; he described experiencing visions of the crime as though they were a dream, claiming to have witnessed some of the events, describing seeing Sue on a boat that resembled the cabin's living room.

The traumatic experience left a severe impact on him, leaving emotional scars. It's also plausible that the intruders had threatened him. When his mother, Marilyn Smartt, discovered blood on his shoes, it lent credibility to the idea that he had indeed witnessed something.

Justin underwent two hypnosis sessions in an attempt to recall any details of the night. During one session, he recounted a strange account of a dream. In it, he recalls, finding himself on a boat a mile away from the shore with a crowd occupying it, witnessing a confrontation between John, Dana, and a man with long black hair, a mustache, and black glasses. The man carried a hammer, while another brown-haired individual in the crowd, dressing similarly, wielded a pocket knife. According to Justin, one of the men attacked John using a knife. They threw him overboard, followed by Dana, who he had described as being very drunk.

As the dream resumed, Justin ran down to the covered body lying on the bow, still surrounded by people, when he lifted the sheet and found Sue, who had a wound in her chest. He attempted to help Sue using a blue and white flower pattern rag, then threw the rag in the water.

The dream ended with the men taking the life raft and Justin waking up.

It came to light that Justin, Rickey, and Sue Sharp had been watching 'The Love Boat' on TV before going to bed, seemingly resonating the incident with the events, leaving an echoing impression on Justin's imagination.

During another hypnosis session, Justin stirred awake at the sound of a noise. He approached the living room doorway with caution. He spotted Sue lying on the sofa while the two men stood in the room's center.

Shortly after arriving home, John and Dana entered through the front door. An argument ensued between John and the two men, leading to an altercation. Dana attempted to escape and fled toward the kitchen, but the brown-haired man struck him with a hammer.

Sue rushed to John's aid while Justin retreated to his room and hid behind the door. The assailants then bound both Johnny and Dana.

Amid the chaos, Tina emerged from her room, clutching a blanket, and inquired about the commotion. One of the intruders reportedly seized her, carrying her through the kitchen and down the back stairs. Later, he returned, retrieving a hunting knife lodged into a wall, before leaving again, taking the blanket with him.

Later, the brown-haired suspect returned and covered Sue with a blanket.

Furthermore, Justin recounted that "Sue was cut in the middle of her chest by a black-haired man using a pocket knife." In his "dream," he rushed to Mrs. Sharp, applied a rag to her chest wound, and then returned to bed, somehow falling asleep.

The narrative still didn't explain how bloodstains on the bedding existed in Sue's and Tina's room.

According to Justin's account, a sketch artist created composite images of the two men. However, these artists were reportedly untrained in forensic sketching. The suspects depicted in the sketches were described as being in their late 20s to early 30s

Tina's disappearance was initially investigated by the FBI as a possible abduction. However, on April 29th, 1981, it was reported that the FBI had backed off the search. The California State Department of Justice was deemed to be doing an adequate job, rendering the FBI's presence unnecessary. A grid-pattern search covering a 5-mile (8.0 km) radius around the house was conducted with police canines. Unfortunately, the efforts yielded no results.

Martin Smartt - Source:

Nevertheless, authorities remained determined to pursue any potential leads. Based on Justin's description of the attackers, detectives pinpointed Martin "Marty" Smartt, Justin's own stepfather, as the key suspect in the cabin murders.

Shortly after, the Department of Justice investigators questioned neighbors from cabin 26, the Smartts, and their friend Boubede, who temporarily stayed with them.

Martin Smartt and Severin John "Bo" Boubede both served in Vietnam. The two had met a few weeks earlier at the Veterans Administration Hospital, where both were receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. During the investigation, Martin Smartt revealed that a claw hammer was stolen from his garage. Despite suspicions, a polygraph test administered to Martin Smartt led the Department of Justice investigators to conclude that neither he nor Boubede was involved in the murders. Martin's alibi went as follows; On the night of the murders, Martin, who worked as a chef at the Backdoor Bar, had the evening off.

Along with his wife Marilyn and their friend Boubede, they decided to visit the Backdoor Bar for drinks. En route, they stopped by Sue Sharp's place and invited her to join them, but she declined. Marilyn and Martin Smartt were also classmates with Sue in a typewriting class.

After a few hours at the bar, they left when the music changed from country to rock—apparently not to their liking. They expressed their anger to the bartender before leaving. Marilyn watched television and then went to bed while Martin and Boubede called the manager to complain. They returned to the bar shortly for more drinks, staying at their just before closing time at 2 a.m., before heading back to the house to sleep.

Keddie's Back door - Source:

Marilyn would later be reinterviewed, during which she revealed that Martin held a grudge against John Sharp. She also admitted to witnessing Martin burning something in the fireplace on the morning of April 12th, which aligned with what another person who knew Marty observed—namely, that he had thrown a pair of shoes into the fire without explanation.

She informed the investigators that she and Martin had separated the day after the murders. According to her, he exhibited anger issues and engaged in violent and abusive behavior.

Reportedly, Martin Smartt had an intense yet eccentric obsession with the Bible.

Some claimed he used to preach to people of those he believed had tainted morals.

Some investigators speculate that Martin supported himself and his family by selling illicit substances, believing that he became involved after he met with Boubede.

John Boubede

Boubede served in the Air Force. He had a story riddled with discrepancies, known to make various claims that later would prove untrue. He claimed he had worked as a Chicago police officer for 18 years but retired after being shot while in the line of duty. However, his date of birth contradicted this, and his criminal history hinted at a different story. He spent time in prison after his conviction of bank robbery. He also held home invasion convictions and was known to be involved in organized crime in Chicago and had ties with the Chicago Outfit mafia.

Many theories circulated that the Department of Justice covered the crime to protect their image, alleging that John Boubede was an informant in the Reagan Administration Witness Protection Program due to his ties with organized crime. Others theorized that Bo held a crush on Sue and was rejected by her.

Sue was said to be counseling Marilyn Smartt, Marty's wife, advising her to consider leaving her husband due to him allegedly being abusive and unfaithful to her. Marty eventually discovered Sue's involvement in his marriage, which is believed to have made him bitter towards her.

The theories never end, with some suggesting that Marilyn's envy of Sue played a part in the crime, as Martin had an eye for her.

Marilyn moved out of Cabin 26 the day after the murders.

Shortly after Martin's troubled relationship with Marilyn, he left Keddie.

Marilyn later claimed that she discovered a bloody jacket in their basement, which she believed belonged to Tina. Although Marilyn handed it over to the authorities, no record shows the jacket was officially entered into evidence. Marilyn provided a letter Martin sent 16 days after the massacre in which he had seemingly confessed to the Keddie cabin murders.

This letter had a single line that stood out; in it, he wrote,

"I've paid the price of your love & now that I've bought it with four people's lives, you tell me we are through." This evidence was allegedly overlooked and was not entered into the records.

Martin Smartt's Letter to Marilyn

While the sentence initially seemed incriminating, when viewed in the context of the letter, he expressed remorse for prioritizing Marilyn and her children over his four children from a previous marriage.

John "Bo" Boubede passed away in 1988. During the murders, he would have been in his 50s. The exact date of Martin Smartt's death is disputed; some sources indicate 2000, while others claim 2006. Smartt would have been in his early 30s at the time of the Keddie murders. Shortly after his death, a psychotherapist at the Veterans Administration whom Martin regularly visited also alleged that he had admitted to the murders of Sue and Tina. Martin justified that Sue was responsible for Marilyn wanting a divorce and boasted about beating a polygraph test. He claimed he didn't have anything to do with the two boys, allegedly telling the counselor that Tina was killed to prevent her from identifying him, as she had "witnessed the whole thing."

Recent Submitted Evidence Including a Knife Found Near an Old Store, the Hammer Found in a Pond, and the Tape of the Anonymous Phone Tip - Plumas County Sheriff’s Office

100 miles away from Keddie, in April 1984, a bottle collector stumbled upon the cranium portion of a human skull and part of a mandible in a wooded area near Feather Falls in neighboring Butte County. Later, forensic pathologists confirmed that these remains belonged to Tina.

The call, which investigators do not believe was random, took place on the third anniversary of the murders.

"Hello, I was watching the news, and they were talking about the skull they found at the Feather Falls, and they asked for any help.

Dispatcher: Uh-huh.

Caller: And I was just wondering if they thought of the murder up in Keddie up in Plumas County a couple of years ago where a 12-year-old girl was never found?" The caller said.

Following a search in the vicinity, investigators recovered a blue nylon jacket, a pair of Levi's jeans, and an empty medical tape dispenser.

As crucial as the call was, it went undocumented. Weirdly, the tape with the call recording surfaced in an evidence box in 2013, discovered by a deputy assigned to the case.

The identity of the anonymous caller remains a mystery to this day. How they knew that the remains belonged to Tina remains an unanswered question.

In 2016, a claw hammer that matched Martin's description was discovered in a local pond.

In 2018, A piece of tape containing identifiable DNA found on the floor near the body of Glenna matched that of a known living suspect. However, nothing more has been released to the public.

Tina Sharp - Source:

Why take Tina? Many speculated she had fallen prey to a trafficking ring. However, that turned out far from the case, as she was eventually discovered.

John E. Douglas, the renowned former FBI special agent, and criminal profiler, proposed that the perpetrator's actions were driven by a deep commitment and paternal love for Tina Sharp.

He suggested that Tina possibly contemplated running away with this individual, having little remaining attachment to her home, as many who knew her claimed she had opposed her mother's control over the family. Many kept theorizing if that was the case and if the perpetrator manipulated her into getting what they wanted. And when it didn't go according to plan, she covered her mother with a blanket as a sign of guilt.

The case remained confusing, fueling ongoing speculation. Many locals smeared the Sharp family after the torturous events they had gone through. Some pointed fingers at Sheila as a potential accomplice, while others considered a drug-related angle. Carla McMullen, a family acquaintance, informed detectives that Dana Wingate had gotten into trouble with local drug dealers. She further explained that he had stolen an undisclosed amount of LSD.

However, police discovered no traces of drugs or paraphernalia inside the Sharp family's cabin, and there was no evidence linking the victims to the drug trade. Further, It appeared that Dana was not killed in the same fashion as the other two victims; in other words, less brutally.

Remembering the Victims -

The victims, by all accounts, could not have been less deserving of such a horrific crime. It is deeply unsettling to think how such a crime never rendered justice.

The capacity of some human beings to dehumanize others, especially when it comes to children, will forever be the ugliest thing to ever be. When it comes to the minds of these murderers, inflicting pain and suffering was a means to validate themselves and satisfy their ego.

Of all the hatred and injustice, they believed the world had inflicted upon them, it likely mirrors a troubled childhood of abuse, emotional disturbance due to family dysfunction, and suppressed impulsive retribution.

The sadistic component was compelled by a severe hatred towards the concept of a complete family, with the primary target being women.

It wouldn't surprise if they had left the boys alive as they reflected their younger selves. Leaving them scarred for the rest of their lives as a means of retaliation. Or maybe they knew someone they would not want to hurt, as it would take an exceptional motive for such monsters to refrain from finishing the job and leaving behind witnesses.

Neither sex nor money appeared to motivate these killers, but a need to display their need for control and want to acknowledge and demonstrate to themselves what they are capable of.

They wanted to make a statement of all the loathing they carry. And it speaks of an ugly past indicative of abandonment, frustration, and rejection. And so they made it a point to see it unfold before their eyes, rejecting humanity and becoming the ugliest all beings.

The infamous murders at Cabin 28 will forever remain one of the most bizarre unsolved crimes and a sad tale showing the demise of a family. And sadly enough, this is where the story ends.

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 couldn't handle more.

The house in which the murders occurred was demolished in 2004.

Murder in Cabin 28: A Look Back on the Keddie Murders |

Keddie murders revisited part 1: New evidence discovered links living to suspect to the grisly scene - Plumas News.

Keddie murders revisited part 2: Following the clues - Plumas News.

Keddie murders revisited part 3: Hypnosis, counselor's revelations, mob connections - Plumas News.

Feather River Bulletin from Quincy, California -™

Cabin 28 Murders - Witness or Dream? (

Are Martin Smartt and John "Bo" Boubede Dead or Alive? Where is Marilyn Smartt Now? (

Keddie Cabin Murders: Quadruple Homicide Unsolved After 40+ Years - The CrimeWire

The Cold Case of the Keddie Cabin Murders (

John Douglas' FBI Profile of the Keddie Murders- 4 - keddie cold case (

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