Sunday marks the two year anniversary of Skylar Neese's disappearance, when three high school classmates apparently were together. The case has captivated our area, our state, and in some eyes our nation.
In the early morning hours of July 6th, 2012, 16-year-old Skylar Neese left her family's Star City apartment to join High School friends Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf on what she thought would be a night of riding around and smoking marijuana. Little did she know, it would be the last ride she would ever take.
Eddy and Shoaf drove north to a predetermined location in Greene County, Pennsylvania, where they fatally stabbed Neese and covered her body with tree branches. A months-long search followed, with the FBI getting involved. Neese's body eventually was discovered after Rachel Shoaf confessed to taking part in the murder.
"She never gave Skylar one ounce of mercy," said Michael Neese, Skylar's uncle. "Life for a life is what I read in the Bible and simply put she deserves no free life."
Skylar's aunt, Carol Michaud, also spoke to Shoaf at her sentencing. "At least your parents get to see your face, get to talk to you, and see you. We don't even get that luxury," she said.
Shelia Eddy pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. She is eligible for parole in 15 years. Rachel Shoaf pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years, with a possibility of parole after 10. Skylar's father Dave believes that these punishments aren't harsh enough. He was most appalled at the reason the girls gave for the murder.
"I want a reason. I want some kind of reason to have this happen, and there is no reason. I don't care," Neese said. "The best reason in the world is no reason. But when you hear 'just because we didn't like her?' Please."
Because authorities first believed that Skylar was a runaway, they didn't issue an AMBER alert. The case inspired statewide legislation to issue an AMBER alert when a child goes missing, regardless of the circumstances.
Skylar would've graduated from University High School this year. In Pennsylvania, near where Skylar's body was discovered, the Neese family set up a memorial site. As part of Eddy and Shoaf's plea deals, both girls are set to be transferred to Lakin Correctional Center in Mason County, now that they are 18 years old.