Cabin 28 Murders – Victim & Killer Speak From The Dead

On Oct. 24, 2009, two psychics visited Cabin 28 with Sheila Sharp, Sue’s daughter, and family friend, Richard Meeks, who also lived at the Keddie Resort. One of the psychics was a medium who could speak with the dead while the other used EVP.

Working together the result was both fascinating and spooky.

First, they approached the site of Cabin 28, which at this point had been torn down. Trampling through dead leaves, they stepped inside the perimeter of where the cabin once sat. Immediately the medium heard screaming. The lights on the EVP went wild, cherry dots flashing on and off.

The medium was visibly chilled to the bone as she recited the following:

Sue opened the door. “Oh…my…God, I know them.”

Two men enter the cabin with a third standing behind them. “No. Please. Don’t!”

Screaming, pain, pleading, begging.

“There were two. And a third. You’re on the right track [in the investigation], but what about Dee? Find Dee.”

“No! Not my babies, please! Kill me, just let them go.”

Unbearable pain. Chaos.

The medium tries to calm her.

Sue refuses to leave the site until all have been punished. Tortured and murdered, preferably. “Why isn’t anyone punishing them?”

Sheila Sharp approaches the medium. If you recall from part I, Sheila discovered the bodies.

Sue screams, “No! Baby, please leave and don’t come back.” This is caught on an EVP recording.

The medium again tries to calm Sue enough to speak with her daughter, who is shaking and crying, praying hands in front of her mouth.

Sue finally agrees, but will only say, “Baby, I love you very much. Please promise me you won’t come here anymore. The kids are safe with me. They’re fine. Tina’s with me too. I will protect them. No one better speak their names. And no one can speak to them. You need to leave, baby. If you want to talk to me, you don’t need to come here. Please go. Go!”

The medium asks Sheila if she knows whose cabin that is that Sue keeps pointing at.

Sue screams, “No! Don’t ask her.”

They hurry Sheila away.

Because of Sue’s obvious guilt over opening the door that night and her anger about the situation, the two psychics leave her alone and head toward the cabin Sue’s enraged about.

They enter the cabin, which is still standing.

The EVP goes crazy.

And here’s where we discover the truth from that fateful night.

Bo’s spirit is in the cabin. He’s stuck. Guilt won’t allow him to move on.

The cabin belonged to Martin Smartt.

The medium asks the following:

Are you guilty?


Do you know what happened?


Do you want to say something about that night?

“Yes. Wasn’t my idea. Anger around Sue.”

You know Sue?


Are you stuck here because of what happened?

“Yes. It’s not my fault. Tell her [Sue] I’m sorry. It’s Martin’s fault. And Dee’s. He’s still alive and knows what happened.”

EVP continues to go wild.

“It got outta hand. Didn’t mean where it went. Violence and sex, that’s all we wanted. Wasn’t supposed to go that way.”

Were the boys there, or did they come home?

“Already there.”

Did Sue open the door?

“Yes. Martin pushed past her. Martin said she was easy. But then it got out of control. Martin was enraged, like he was possessed. He took it out on Sue. Sue didn’t matter. Pure animalistic savagery.”

Were there drugs involved?

“No. Drinking.”

Were all three of you involved in the murders?

“Two. I stayed back.”

Here’s my take on the case…

I haven’t been able to determine who “Dee” is, but the family members seem to know him. As soon as the medium related the name they all nodded, confirming the name, so he must be a friend of Martin and Bo.

On the night of April 11, 1981 or early morning hours of April 12th, Sue heard a knock at the front door. When she opened it, Martin and Dee pushed their way inside.

They wanted sex. If they had to rape Sue to get it, so be it.

Sue resisted. She screamed, threatened to tell Martin’s wife.

This enraged Martin. He beat her, punched, and kicked her.

His rage increased and the situation escalated. He grabbed the claw hammer, but that wasn’t enough. He drew a blade from his pocket and stabbed her repeatedly. Sue ran at one point because her bloody handprint was on the wall. Streaked, as if she was pushed. Martin or Dee subdued her. Martin delivered the fatal blow.

John heard the commotion and bolted in the living room with his friend, Dana.

Dee lunged at them, aided by Bo. They had to quiet them. They were in too deep to turn back now.

Martin was still busy with Sue. The crime scene showed major overkill. Then he “helped” his buddies with John and Dana.

The cabin exploded in chaos.

Deafening screams of terror.

Justin, Martin’s stepson, awoke in the back bedroom and tiptoed to the archway of the living room. With his back against the wall, he craned his neck around the side of the archway, peeking into the living room. There, he witnessed his stepfather covered in blood, straddling either John or Dana. Without a sound Justin padded to the bedroom and buried his head with his pillow.

Tina awoke, but instead of spying on the men, she entered the living room.

Three dead bodies on the floor. Three men in blood-soaked clothes.

Martin came for sex and he’d be damned if he was leaving without it. He tossed Tina over his shoulder and escaped out the back door. Dee followed close behind.

As Bo viewed the carnage, guilt consumed every inch of him. He covered Sue’s body with a blanket and fled.

Miles away, the three men stopped. Martin either acted alone or the three men gang-raped twelve-year-old Tina. I have no doubt Martin was the one who murdered her to silence her screams, and then disposed of her as if she was yesterday’s trash.

Whether animals tore Tina’s body apart or Martin did it in a fit of rage, I don’t know. We might never know unless the authorities arrest Dee, the only one of the three who’s still alive today.

Years later, Tina’s skull was found near the waterfall, the rest of her remains scattered in the same vicinity.

What’s your view of how the murders occurred?

There are so many angles to this story. A mob connection. A cover-up by the police. I’ll visit this case again in the future. For now, this is where the series ends.

Cabin 28 Murders – Witness or Dream?


Now that we’ve heard from the two main suspects and the profiler, how about we hear from Justin, the boy who spent the night at Cabin 28, and whose step-father, Martin Smartt, made an interesting comment about. Which you can find in part II.

The following statements are from Justin speaking to Sheriff Doug Thomas. The numbers you see are as they appear on the official PCSO document. Justin described “a dream” he had the night of the murder, when he was “asleep” a mere ten feet from where the murders occurred. His mother claims Justin had blood on his shoes, so it’s logical to assume he witnessed at least part of the murder.

One might conclude, either his fragile mind couldn’t handle witnessing such horror and processed the murder as a dream, or he feared for his life because he saw who committed the act.

Incidentally, the bloody shoes mysteriously disappeared. Which makes me wonder whose blood was on them. Martin Smartt’s, perhaps?

I have not edited so you can view the statement as is.

Police sketch of suspects. Watch how it relates to Justin’s “dream”.

75. I am on my passenger boat. Somebody got thrown out and there was a fight. He had long black hair, short over the ear. His hair was combed back. He had black glasses with gold ring and a gold frame and black and brown lenses. He had a mustache, jean jacket, blue jeans, no belt. Cowboy boots. Black round toe with a squiggly design. He had a hammer in his left hand and it had a wooden handle and a steel hammering thing and a point at the end.

76. Johnny and Dana fought the man. Dana was almost drunk. He was walking weird. A crowd gathered. Johnny was thrown overboard and Dana. The man ran away. A body was lying on the bow. The mom (Sue). She had black hair and a sheet over her. I looked under the sheet and she was slit on the chest. Everybody started to gather around her and we started to go to shore.

77. The man had a knife like a pocket knife in his right hand. And he cut Sue. He didn’t cut her first. No. Before he went off the boat, he cut her. There was another man dressed up like him. He was in the crowd. But when the man dove into the water, they killed Sue. Nobody had a gun. Then I woke up.

78. The man just said her name – “Sue.” He had brown hair, past his ears, halfway. Curly at the end. Same kind of glasses as the other man and same kind of clothes. He wore marked Army boots, green, like a hiking boot with a Waffle Stomper type sole.

79. The man used a knife on Johnny. I was down by Sue, trying to take care of her. All the blood was coming down and I was trying to patch her up with a blue and white flowered rag. I threw the rag in the water. The men both took the life raft, but the brown-haired man covered Sue first. Johnny and Dana touched the wall by the TV while they were fighting.

80. Justin tells polygraph examiner Sam Lister that he did not have a dream and that he witnessed the murders taking place.


…to law enforcement after the murders.

81. Justin said that he heard a noise and awoke and went to the doorway and peeked into the living room. Sue was laying on the sofa and the two men he described previously were standing in the center of the room.

John and Dana then came home and entered the front door. John argues with the two men and a fight starts. Dana tried to get away and fled towards the kitchen when the brown-haired man strikes him with the hammer.

Sue rushes to John’s aid and Justin returned to his room and hid behind the door. The suspects then tied up Johnny and Dana.

82. Tina comes out of her room, dragging a blanket, and asks, “What’s going on?” The two men then rush to Tina and grab her by the arms and drag her out the back door as she cries “help, help.”

Later, the brown-haired suspect returns and covers up Sue with the blanket.

83. Justin told his mother that someone had a sweatsuit on. Johnny’s hands were tied and there was blood all over his face. He talked about the TV. Justin said that Johnny and Dana came in at midnight.

85. Justin states that “Sue was cut in the middle of her chest by a black-haired man using a pocket knife.”

86. Justin states that in his “dream” that “I ran down to Mrs. Sharp. She had a cut on her chest. I took a rag and put it on her chest!”

87. Justin then got back into bed and covered himself with a blanket where he fell asleep in about an hour.

Since his statement Justin was swarmed with hypnotists, psychics, and lie detector tests many times. Why psychics? You got it. There’s a paranormal element to this story too.

And that’s coming next.

Looking for a way to commit murder? Sign up for my free .pdf 50 Ways To Murder Your Fictional Characters. An addendum coming soon…

Murder at Cabin 28 – The Suspects & Profiler’s Initial Findings

Boubede states, “There were several cars parked right here in the immediate area.” He clarifies the location of the parked cars by stating they were “towards the cabin area.” He then goes on to say, “The only one I could tell you was a Corvair.”

Boubede does not state this was the only car he saw or he remembers being parked near the cabins. He tells the investigator this is the only car “I could tell you.” This type of language allows for the possibility that he saw another car but is choosing not to tell the police about the other car.

There is also the chance he is making up the story about seeing a Corvair. Since people do not want to lie, it is hard for him to say, “I remember seeing a Corvair.” Therefore, he states, “The only one I could tell you was a Corvair.”

In regards to the Corvair, we find the following exchange:

Bradley: “Had you see that around here before?”

Boubede: “Ah, well, I’ve only been here a short time, ah, about a month.”

Crim: “About a month you’ve been here?”

Boubede: “About a month. So I wouldn’t be able to say.”

Boubede’s answer, “I wouldn’t be able to say” makes no sense. Even if he had only been living there a short time he could still answer this question by saying, “No, I have not seen that car before.”

He does not tell the investigators that he has not seen the Corvair before. He only states that he is not “able to say.” Why is he not able to say? Is it because he has not seen it or is it because of something else.

Bradley: “Were there any lights on in the house or any sign of a disturbance at all?”

Boubede: “I wouldn’t even know the house, unless you pointed it out to me.”

Bradley: “You don’t know the house, which one we’re talking about?”

Boubede: “No.”

First, if Boubede did not know what house they were talking about, we would expect him to say, “I don’t know what house you are talking about.” That is a definitive statement. His statement, “I wouldn’t even know” is a weak denial.

Secondly, his uncertainty of which house the crime occurred in contradicts his earlier statements as seen below.

Bradley: “When you came through the parking lot and up the street, did you pass the victims’ house?”

Boubede: “Ah yes.”

Bradley: “Now did you see any, what was the condition of the house? Were there any lights on in there, do you recall?

Boubede: “Ah, I didn’t notice.”

Bradley: “Didn’t notice. Did you hear any noise from the, from within the house?”

Boubede: “No.”

Earlier in the interview, Boubede acts as if he knows what house the police are talking about.

In talking about Boubede and Smartt leaving the bar and walking home, we find the following:

Bradley: “Did you see any activity at that time?”

Boubede: “Nothing unusual.”

Boubede does not state that he did not see any activity while walking home. He qualified his answer by saying he saw nothing “unusual.”

First Impression from FBI profiler, John Douglas

Summary: The triple homicide appears to be without motive. Neither sex nor money was a motivating factor. The crime scene reflects anger and rage on one hand and remorse and guilt on the other. It appears at this point there is more than one murderer involved in this triple homicide.

Offender Profile:

The offender responsible for this triple homicide did not initially plan on killing. It was an afterthought as evident by the weapons he selected. All weapons can be referred to as weapons of opportunity. This offender knew his victims, particularly John and Sue.

These homicides were motivated by his commitment and love for Tina Sharp. He loves her like a father in all probability. Tina was planning on running away with him. She had nothing left at home, and it was obvious, according to witnesses, that Sue no longer had control of the household.

It was Tina Sharp who probably went to the bedroom and got a blanket to cover her mother’s dead body. Tina, at age 12, may have had conflicts with her mother, like so many adolescents at that age do. However, since the homicide she has probably dealt with a great deal of remorse and guilt. Her feelings will be in direct contract to her abductor and may lend to her own death if her abductor feels she may go to the police.

If Tina Sharp is still alive she will find that she will become increasingly depressed especially around holiday and significant anniversary dates (i.e. mother’s birthday, her own birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving). Her depression will cause her to seek out her father and the gravesite of her mother and brother.

It should be noted here that the Behavioral Science Unit has found that the father…..[illegible]…..and is not considered a suspect.


There are many inconsistencies surrounding this case. The two detectives dispatched to the scene, Crim and Bradley, specialized in mob-related issues. Why didn’t they send homicide detectives? Could it be because Boubede’s step-father, who raised him, was a prominent member of the mob? Also, the sheriff at the time resigned shortly after the murders, admitting to child molestation. Could he have had a hand in Tina’s disappearance to satisfy his sick obsession?

We’ll continue this series, but with a short interruption for Go Set A Watchman blog tour. I’d love to dive deeper into this today, but my editor sent my track edits early and I only have a few days left before the deadline.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the profiler nailed it in his initial evaluation, or was he way off?

Murder at Cabin 28 – The Suspects, Part I

If you are just joining us we’ve been discussing a gruesome quadruple murder that occurred on April 12, 1982 in Keddie, California. Before reading this analysis you may want to first read the story here.

Now, on to the two main suspects.

First up is Martin Smartt. The following is an excerpt of his statement and Mark McClish’s analysis of the words and phrases Smartt used. Mark McClish is a former Supervisory US Marshall with a background as a Secret Service Agent and FBI. He now runs Statement Analysis to assist and/or train law enforcement. You can find his full bio here.

I have not edited this statement because to do so would ruin its authenticity and voice. As you read notice the language Smartt used. By dissecting the conversation between Crim and Bradley (homicide detectives) and Smartt (suspect) we can mimic the dialogue in our stories. Like I said in my previous post, this is gold for a crime writer, or anyone else who has murder plots in their stories.

I’ve put the interview in color to help separate the analysis from the actual statement.

Here we go…

In this portion of his interview, he [Martin Smartt] is describing seeing an unusual man in the bar the night the murders took place.

Smartt: O.K., we left our house about 10:00, my wife, myself and John and ah, we kept, we were around the bar until about 1:00, like I say it wasn’t real crowded but it was You know, fairly crowded that night, and it was, I didn’t really notice anything unusual except for one pers– one individual came in about oh, I’d say 10:30 or 11:00 that I’d never seen before and nearly the rest of the people you know.

Smartt: But you live here awhile and you see ’em. I used to work in the restaurant here and I become familiar with a lot of the customers and that one individual you know, just the way he carried himself, he looked like trouble. He looked out of place for that type of establishment, is what I mean. He was in a t-shirt and Levi’s and wearing a buck knife, extremely long hair.

Smartt: Ya, like I say about 5′ 7″, 5′ 8, extremely long hair, it was tied in a pony tail and the individual didn’t look like he belonged in the Back Door Lounge, ya know, it wasn’t the type of clientele that they cater to, but he left shortly thereafter. He walked down, sat at the bar where we were, well we went back into the little dance area and went back out and left. As far as I know I didn’t see, notice the guy again. That’s the only person I saw that looked unusual, you know, out of place that night.

There are no synonyms in Statement Analysis. Every word has a different meaning if only slightly different. A truthful person’s language will remain consistent through out his statement. For example, if a person views a firearm as a “gun” he will always call it a “gun.” He will not refer to it as a “pistol” because to him it is a “gun.” When there is a change in language, it is an indication of deception unless there is a justifiable reason for the change. Perhaps when the gun is fired it now becomes a “pistol.”

Smartt used three different words to describe the unusual man he saw in the bar: “individual,” “guy” and “person.” It is unlikely there is a justification for using three different words to refer to a man in a bar. This is an indication Smartt is making up the story about seeing the unusual man.

In describing the unusual man, Smartt states the man had a, “Mustache, dark heavy mustache, and his hair was dark brown and of course it was dark in there, I couldn’t, I didn’t, pay enough attention to him to get a lot of description but I did know he had a mustache but no beard.”

When people use the phrase “of course” they often want us to take for granted what they are saying is the truth. However, we take nothing for granted and only believe what people tell us.

Smartt states, “I couldn’t” as if he was going to say, “I couldn’t tell…” He then changed his statement to, “I didn’t.” There is a reason why he changed his language. Perhaps he could tell what the man looked like. Perhaps the man did not exist which caused him to change his language.

He states, “I did know he had a mustache but no beard.” He uses the wrong verb tense. He should have stated “I do know” because at the time of the interview he would have still known this.

Smartt: Ya, in the area, should be a street light in there, I didn’t notice but I thought it was awful dark in the area. But ah, like I say, we were involved in a conversation and we really didn’t pay any attention.

People use the word “really” to add emphasis and bolster their statement. However, this word weakens the statement. “We didn’t pay any attention” is a good definitive statement. By using the word “really” Smartt is telling us they did pay some attention to what was going on.

Smartt: And likewise, when we came back it was oh, ten minutes later, we had enough time to take off our, we were wearing three pieces, so we had enough time to take off our jacket and vest and then put our jackets back on, came back down and ah, once again, we were in conversation, I can’t think of anything at all during that period, we came back down, that was out of place.

The shortest sentence is the best sentence. Extra words give us extra information. The words “at all” are not needed for us, the reader, but Smartt needed to add them to his statement. These words are usually used to get us to believe what the person is saying is true.

In talking about leaving the bar after it closed, Smartt stated, “We had about enough time to drink one drink, which, about a half hour, must have been, oh, I’d say 1:45 when we left there and started back up. And, again, cuttin up jackpots and talking.”

The word “started” means the act was interrupted or never completed. When he said he left the bar the first time, he stated, “Then we walked back home.” That is what he should have said this second time he left the bar, “We left and walked back up.” The use of the word “started” is a strong indication they did something else before they went home.

After getting home, Smartt states, “I went to bed about ten after two. After, well, we keep the medicine put up because of the kids, I had to get John’s medicine out, and I gave him two phenobarbitals, and a delantin, two phenobarbitals and two delantins, to go to bed on. That’s what the doctor prescribed.”

The word “after” means Smartt has skipped over something in his story. He wants us to believe he went to bed after he gave John his medicine. However, never specifically states that. His language tells us he went to bed after doing something.

Crim: Then you went to bed.

Smartt: Then I went to bed and woke up again around 3:00, stoke the fire.

Crim: Nothing unusual woke you up, you just…

Smartt: Matter of habit. I always wake up around 3:00 or 3:30, stoke the fire. I got up, ya know, checked the house, and ah, stoked the fire, and ah, matter of fact, I opened the door and went outside and got a piece of wood, came back in, I didn’t notice anything.

Crim: Just nice and quiet?

Smartt: Quiet, as a matter a fact, usually about that time, a train is going by, I didn’t notice the train, then go to sleep. Very peaceful and quiet. I can’t think of anything.

Although Smartt does tell us that after giving John his medicine he went to bed, it appears this was suggested to him. The transcription shows Crim making a statement and not asking a question. Even if it was formed as a question, it would be a suggestive question.

When deceptive people have to come up with a number, they often choose the number three. The appearance of the number three (3:00 or 3:30) does not mean the person is lying but it is an indication of deception.

It is interesting that he tells us that he went outside in the early morning hours. He places himself outside of his cabin.

He said he did not notice the train go by which usually goes by at that time. Did he not notice it because he was in Cabin 28 committing the murders?

The word “then” is usually used to transition from one thought to another thought. Deceptive people will use this word to skip over something in their story. This is because the word can mean “immediately” or “soon afterward.” If it is used as “soon afterward,” we have some missing information.

“Go to sleep” is missing a subject. He did not use the pronoun “I” to tell us that he went to sleep. Also, this phrase is in the present tense. It should be, “I went to sleep.” The use of present tense language is an indication the story is not coming from memory but the person is presently constructing their story.

The sentence, “I can’t think of anything” sounds as if it is an afterthought.

This portion of his statement shows a lot of deception.

Bradley: Was your wife still in the sack when you got back? In bed?

Smartt: Yeah, when I got home she was just gone, slept right through.

In Boubede’s interview, we find the following:

Bradley: When you got back to the house, was Marilyn up or in bed or what?

Boubede: No, she was up.

Smartt says his wife was in bed when he and Boubede returned from the bar. Boubede states she was up.

Smartt states that his wife “slept right through.” What did she sleep through? It does not make sense he is referring to him giving John medicine. The implication is she slept through some type of incident such as the murders. His language indicates she slept through it but he did not. This means he was awake when the murders were committed.

Smartt had a 12 year old step-son named Justin who was sleeping in Cabin 28 the night the murders took place. He and two other boys were in another room. They were unharmed and slept through the night. In talking about the possibility that Justin witnessed the murders, Smartt states,“He is quiet enough to where he could have noticed something without me detecting him.”

The murders allegedly occurred in the early morning hours while Smartt was asleep. Since Justin was sleeping in Cabin 28, there is the possibility that Justin woke up and heard or saw something in regards to the murders. Since Smartt was still asleep, we would expect him to say that Justin may have “noticed something without me knowing it.” By saying, “without me detecting him” implies that Smartt was awake and suggests that he participated in the murders. He did not notice that Justin had detected him.

Smartt: Ah, I don’t know, I’d like to see the hammer; I’ve been in Sue’s house. The only hammer I ever knew that come out of there was a wooden handled one. Ah, my hammer is missing.

The victims were struck with a hammer. I don’t know if the hammer used in the murders was ever proven to be Smartt’s missing hammer. However, it is odd perhaps coincidental that he mentions his hammer is missing.

In talking about the missing hammer, Smartt states, “I haven’t noticed it layin about, so we can’t, I thought of that this morning, ya know, cause this guy come right by my house, ya know, geez if that was true, he would have picked up my hammer, why in hell not my hatchet, a lot better.

The word “this” indicates specificity but it also shows closeness. He could have stated, “the guy” which would distance himself from the killer. Instead, he used a word that brings him close to the killer.

Based on his language, there is a strong indication that Martin Smartt was involved in the murders that took place in Cabin 28.

Stay tuned for part II, when we read the analysis from the other main suspect, John “Bo” Boubede.

Murder at Cabin 28

Who wouldn’t like a cozy log cabin in the woods?

You may want to reconsider your answer in a moment.

The following is a true account of a quadruple homicide.

CABIN 28 –


Glenna “Sue” Sharp, age 36, and her five children got thrown out of their Connecticut home by Sue’s abusive husband, James Sharp. They traveled cross-country visiting friends and old neighbors and settled in Keddie, California, in a 3-bedroom cabin in November, 1980.

Plumas County was not a place where dreams came true. Not a place where perseverance won out. And not a place where one could climb the corporate ladder to success.

Not then anyway. Not in 1980.

Keddie was a run-down, low rent, railroad town. Violence ran rampant.

November, 1980

Despite the circumstances that brought them to CA, the kids nested into their new life, and frolicked in a forest, stream, and on railroad tracks behind the property.

They lived among a cluster of cabins. A dying resort that rented to year-round residents.

Johnny, the eldest child at age 15, took an unfinished room downstairs, off a small utility area in the partial basement. With no indoor stairs or separate bathroom, he used the back staircase or front door to gain access to Cabin 28. Other than this small inconvenience he was content with his new semi-independence. The younger boys, Rick, age 10, and Greg, age 5, shared a bedroom at the front of the cabin, next to the living room, while Sue and her youngest daughter, Tina, age 12, shared the rear bedroom opposite the kitchen.

In mid-February, the eldest daughter, Sheila, age 14, gave birth to a baby in Oregon. The baby was promptly put up for adoption and Sheila rejoined her family in Cabin 28. Now with her child back home, Sue slept in a twin bed while the girls shared the queen. On occasion Sue slept on the pull-couch in the living room, falling asleep in front of the TV.

Times were tough.

Living quarters cramped.

A hard life.

Sadly, that was nothing new. Sue stretched $250 she received from the Navy — which barely covered rent — food stamps, and a stipend she received for being enrolled in CETA — a federal education program of the era — as far it could stretch.

Folks described Sue as a quiet, reserved woman, who primarily kept to herself. No local criminal record and not known to local authorities. She had one close girlfriend, a neighbor woman with the last name of Meeks.

Despite her personality, Sue managed to wrangle dates with some frequency, hanging at a neighborhood bar called The Back Door drinking beer and playing pool. Several boyfriends seemed at odds with her temperament and background. Sue had a steady boyfriend — another volatile relationship — that ended in a shouting match around late March, 1981.

April 12, 1981

Sunday, 7:45 a.m. (approx. time)

Fifteen feet south of her home, Sheila Sharp (14) woke at Cabin 27, the Seabolts residence, where she had spent the night. The Seabolts invited her to attend church with their family. All she needed was her Sunday clothes.

Sheila swung open the front door of Cabin 28.

Three dead bodies on the floor. The furthest away covered with a blanket.

Between the doorway and the closest body was a knife, bent at such an angle that Sheila mistook it for an open pocket knife.

It wasn’t a pocket knife.

It was the knife used to slaughter her family.

Screaming, crying, Sheila careened to the Seabolts.

The matriarch, Zonita Seabolt, rushed Sheila across the street to Cabin 25, the landlord’s residence.

Zonita called the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office.

PCSO dispatched a car.

How could they stand idly by and do nothing?

They couldn’t. No one could.

With the help of Zonita’s eldest son Jamie, they returned to Cabin 28. Around back, Jamie knocked on the boys’ bedroom window.

A face appeared in the glass.

Someone survived. Three children survived.

Jamie dragged Greg, Rick, and a neighbor child, Justin Smartt, age 12, from that window. All three unharmed.

Justin was on a sleepover. He believed he was safe. No one could have predicted what would happen during the early morning hours.

Determined to find more survivors, Jamie crept up the back stairs.

The killers had escaped. The back door left ajar.

Jamie witnessed the carnage, the aftermath of murder.

Three dead: Sue (36), John (15), and John’s friend, Dana Wingate (17).


Claw hammered.


Missing from the cabin was Sue’s twelve-year-old daughter, Tina.

Who committed the murders?

Two primary suspects: Martin Smartt and John “Bo” Boubede.

Smartt served two tours in Vietnam and was seeking psychiatric help at the Reno VA hospital a few weeks before the murders.

Boubede, who had a criminal history of bank robbery for which he spent time in prison, claimed he was at the hospital for epilepsy and a suicide attempt.

The two men met there, and when Smartt left the hospital he brought Boubede with him to Keddie, California.

The police interviewed Smartt and Boubede, but neither were ever charged with the murders.

Both have since died.


Fifty miles from Cabin 28, Tina’s skull was found near a waterfall.

This case has never been solved.

Why am I telling you this heartbreaking story?

Because I spent most of my day yesterday reading transcripts of Smartt and Boubede’s interviews.

Guess what? I have a special treat for you.

Former Supervisory Deputy United States Marshall Mark McClish analyzed these interviews, pointing out key words and phrases that show when a suspect is lying. Mr. McClish has an extensive background as a Secret Service Agent, FBI, and U.S. Marshall.

Now retired, Mark McClish started Advanced Interviewing Concepts, a company that provides interviewing skills training and assists investigators in analyzing statements. Mark currently gives presentations and seminars on Statement Analysis throughout the U.S. He has spoken at numerous conferences and has trained a variety of law enforcement agencies and military organizations. He is the author of the books I Know You Are Lying and Don’t Be Deceived. He also developed the Statement Analyzer which is software that will analyze a statement for deception.

Are you ready?

Mr. McClish gave me permission to publish his analysis of Smartt and Boubede’s statement. Yay! This is pure gold for a crime writer. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to share this with you.

But…you will have to wait till next time. I promise, it’ll be worth the wait.