Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Murder of Sharon Blankenbeckler

I have only slept with the lights on three times in my life. The first time I was seven and having nightmares about Bigfoot. Actually, it was a commercial for a movie that scared me. In the commercial, Bigfoot crashed his arm through someone’s living room window and tried to grab a woman sitting on a coach. I can still see her long straight hair whipping around as she jumped. I woke up screaming, sweating, snot running down my face. For some reason my mother made me drink grape juice from a silver cup to calm me down. The second time I had to sleep with the lights on was after seeing The Shining. I heard noises and was sure Jack Nicholson was outside my bedroom door. I turned on the light and waited for Jack to come limping through the doorway, smiling with an ax over his shoulder. That time I didn’t scream. I woke myself up, once again sweating, with snot running down my face. The third time I had to sleep with the lights on was while writing this essay about Sharon Blankenbeckler.

I didn’t know her. And besides, I was busy in the spring of 1977. I had just turned eleven on March 17th and as usual Aunt May brought me a colossal chocolate cake with green candles (green for St. Patrick’s Day).  My friends and I rode our bikes all over our hometown of Chilhowie, Virginia. There was nothing for us to be afraid of as we glided down every street, walked through every backyard and cut across every cornfield. We watched John Belushi on Saturday Night Live and Heart on The Midnight Special. We owned Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. There were no strangers in Chilhowie. It’s population was around two thousand, and everyone knew everyone. We were all family, related one way or another. Everyone went to church. In particular, there were loads of Baptists. When they forced us to square dance in gym class, several of the kids sat on the bleachers with notes saying it was against their religion. Teenagers pulled their cars next to each other in the Tastee-Freeze parking lot, talked and passed beer and joints between them. Any road you took out of Chilhowie would lead you to the countryside--beautiful green rolling pastures, farms, apple orchards and the mountains. We were surrounded the Appalachians. The word Chilhowie is Cherokee for “Valley of Many Deer.” On the first day of deer hunting season, the schools were vacant. Then, later in the day, vehicles rolled back into town with deer tied stiff to their roofs. It was hard to keep a secret in Chilhowie. Everyone made it their business to know everything. I knew a guy who got his girlfriend pregnant, and people called him every day demanding to know what he intended to do about it.


Smyth County News 3/31/77

MISSING – Sharon Ann Blankenbeckler of Chilhowie has been missing since March 10. She was last seen at the K-Mart parking lot in Marion at approximately 2:30 p.m.
A white 20-year-old female, she has long brown hair and blue eyes, weighs 108 pounds and is 5’4” tall. Anyone having information concerning Ms. Blankenbeckler is asked to call the Smyth County Sheriff’s Department, Marion…

Sharon Blankenbeckler was much older than me. She was twenty, which normally would have seemed ancient to an eleven year old, but under the circumstances she seemed young. At least that is what everyone kept repeating, “she is so young.” There was talk among the adults mostly. One person insisted that she was fine and had eloped with an older man. Another source said she had run away. At any rate, there was no panic. It was the subject of many conversations because people don’t just vanish, but everyone seemed convinced she would turn up fine. Weeks went by and the talk subsided. Chilhowie had other problems. We had a horrible flood. The black people who “lived down by the tracks” had to be evacuated. Many black families stayed at the Methodist church just up the street from my house. One girl told me about rats and water snakes that floated by as her family waded out of their house with clothes and photos over their heads. The water subsided and exposed the roads damaged by the flood, cracked and buckled.

Smyth County News 4/12/77

Local Girl Found Dead

The body of Sharon Blankenbeckler, missing since Mar. 10, was found Friday morning near Highway 16 on Walker’s Mountain.
According to Sheriff Billy J. Dolinger, the body was sent to Roanoke, where the cause of death was determined by an autopsy, and where identification of the body was made.
According to the autopsy, Miss Blankenbeckler, 20, had been strangled and her body left on the mountain about a month.
Described by friends and family as a quiet girl, Miss Blankenbeckler had been reported as missing Mar. 10 after leaving her home that day to apply for a job at the K-Mart store in Marion. Her car was found abandoned on the shopping center parking lot that night with a flat tire, but police officers said there was no evidence of the tire being punctured. There were no reports of anyone seeing the girl leave the lot, nor of anyone suspicious being around her car, policemen said.
Her whereabouts remained a mystery until Howard Buchanan of Rich Valley, riding in the back of a truck on Highway 16 Thursday, thought he spotted something alongside the road. He returned around 7:30 a.m. Friday and found the body.
The body was on the north side of Walker’s Mountain, about .3 of a mile from the top of the mountain. Sheriff Dolinger said the body was 12 to 15 feet from the shoulder of the road and was lying face down, head first down the mountain, indicating it had been shoved from a moving vehicle.
When Miss Blankenbeckler was found, her hands had been tied behind her back and a rope was around her neck, said the sheriff. The autopsy report ...showed the body was still fully clothed and revealed no signs of assault.
…the Smyth County Sheriff’s Department said an investigation into the matter is
underway.

Everything changed. The town exploded with talk.
First, it was said that a teenager, who had lived at the foster home on Old Stage Road, confessed to killing her. I used to spend time there playing with the sons of the people who took care of the foster home. It was an eleven year old girl’s dream: enormous fish tanks, an air hockey game and permissive parents. I knew the kid everyone was talking about. He was sixteen or seventeen and used to play really rough with us younger kids. I was scared of him and didn’t stop at the foster home when I saw him sitting on the front porch steps. As it turned out, this kid was in jail in another state at the time of the murder. No one could figure out why he would confess to such a crime. Some said he confessed because he had been “bewitched.”

     Many claimed Sharon had died at the hands of Chilhowie’s very own serial killer, Lem Tuggle. While on parole for the 1971 strangulation of a 17-year-old girl, Tuggle raped, sodomized and shot a woman, Jessie Havens, after he met her at a dance at the American Legion Hall. But Lem Tuggle couldn’t have been the murderer. He had only been out of prison four months when he killed Jessie Havens in 1983. He was in prison in 1977 when Sharon was killed. Tuggle was put to death by lethal injection on December 12, 1996. His last words were, “Merry Christmas.”  

Smyth County News 4/14/77

An investigation into the murder of Sharon Blankenbeckler is continuing, Sheriff Billy J. Dolinger said Wednesday. Sheriff Dolinger said he had no new developments which could be reported at that time, but added the mystery was beginning to unravel.
Dolinger said rumors that other bodies had been found in the county were just that--rumors. He said another woman who had been reported missing turned up recently unharmed.
The body of Miss Blankenbeckler was found Friday on Walker’s Mountain, where it had been for about a month. She had been strangled to death.

One school of thought was that Sharon had been killed by a prominent local businessman. Supposedly, he was having an affair with Sharon, and had gotten her pregnant. Since he didn’t want to give half his fortune over to his wife and suffer the public humiliation, he had had Sharon killed. I heard over and over that Sharon’s tires had been flattened by golf tees and that this "rich man loved to play golf."


The other school of thought was much darker. People whispered of some kind of satanic cult. They said that the police had to guard Sharon’s body because they were sure someone would come to get it at the funeral home. It was said the group held their meetings in an old metal warehouse deep in the country somewhere between Adwolfe and Marion. People dressed in robes and danced on her grave. According to one story, a woman who lived close to the graveyard called the police because they were making too much noise. When the police arrived, they found small plastic wine cups. Also, everyone said her grave sank “too quickly” into the ground, like there was no coffin to hold the earth up. It was assumed, her coffin had been stolen. It was even rumored the gravestones of some of her relatives were toppled over in another different graveyard.

The whole community was on edge. In 1977, we didn’t have twenty-four hour news reporting crimes from every part of the country. Rarely did anyone hear of a murder, much less a murder surrounded by these strange circumstances. The town had been kept in suspense long enough, and they wanted an answer.


Smyth County News 4/28/77

Arrest Rumors Bring Warning

Persistent rumors about the death of Sharon Blankenbeckler, found dead Apr. 8 on Walkers Mountain after being missing for about a month, have prompted the following statement from Robert L. Asbury, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Smyth County:“It has come to my attention that there are many rumors concerning the investigation of the death of Sharon Ann Blankenbeckler.
The rumors concern persons who are not under investigation and are doing irreparable harm to them as individuals, to their families and to their businesses.The commonwealth’s attorney went on to warn that any person who either makes a slanderous statement or repeats one previously made by another is subject to criminal punishment as well as civil damages.”
Any person who has any information concerning the death of Miss Blankenbeckler should contact... the Smyth County Sheriff’s Department, said Asbury.
He added that any such information will be kept confidential.

This is the last mention of Sharon Blankenbeckler I have been able to find in the Smyth County News.

All the talk around town stopped. No one was ever arrested for her murder.

A few years later, I was finally old enough to drink and drive. Once in a long while, sitting in our cars in the middle of the mountains, someone would bring up the murder. The talk would always drift back to people dressed in robes dancing around her grave. Sometimes the robes were black, sometimes red, but the story lived on. It had become a legend. But it only popped up from time to time and just as details started to blossom, someone would cut off the heads off the flowers by saying, “We better not talk about it.” Other times when the story was told, we all seemed to go silent at the same moment. The subject would change. Or being stoned teenagers, we would laugh everything off.

I moved away from the area when I was eighteen, went about my life and didn’t think much more about the incident.

A few months ago something reminded me of Sharon Blankenbeckler. It could have been any number of stories about murdered young white women on CNN or 48 Hours. I decided to look her up on the internet. I found nothing. Nothing. It was like she had just vanished. This murdered girl who rocked our community was no where to be found. I decided to see what I could dig up. I figured there would be oodles of mentions of her in the local paper, The Smyth County News, and I thought I could get information from people who grew up in Chilhowie.

When I started working on this essay thirty-three years after the murder, I called some old friends and was told time after time that “people don’t like to talk about that.” A couple of people even warned me not to talk about it. They were worried for my safety because they believe that the person/s who committed the crime "are still out there, and they will come after anyone who talks about it." A few people even claimed they knew who the murderer was, but would not say the name. One detail everyone I spoke to agreeed on was this: Sharon was lovely.

This is certainly true. The paper published a photo of her along with the first mention of her disappearance in the 3/31/77 edition of the Smyth County News. She had long dark hair, parted down the middle, full round checks, an Elizabethan forehead and a long graceful neck. She wore a blouse with a classic 70s dotted seventies pattern with a white collar and white cuffs.

After I read the articles about Sharon from the Smyth County News, I had a good idea where her body was found. My friend and I decided to drive up Walker’s Mountain to find the exact spot. My friend also grew up in Chilhowie and remembered the murder well. Highway 16 leaves the town of Marion (which is seven miles from Chilhowie) and passes by the west shore of Hungry Mother Lake and the entrance to Hungry Mother Park. Like the Sharon Blankenbeckler story, Hungry Mother figures large in local mythology. It got its name because a woman named Molly and her child were the only survivors of a nearby settlement, which was attacked by Indians. They were taken to an Indian camp, but they soon escaped. Molly and her child wandered around the forest eating berries until Molly finally collapsed. The child ran for help and stumbled upon some settlers; However, the only words the child could say were, “Hungry mother, hungry mother.” The child led them back to find Molly dead in what is now the state park.

Shortly after you pass the entrance to the park, there is a campground and stables. It is unclear if the stables are still in use. They are gray and dirty, but the paint is not quite peeling. You really begin to climb Walker’s Mountain after these last remnants of Hungry Mother Park. Highway 16 snakes steeply upward. It is two lanes and extremely narrow. Even if you are familiar with driving in the mountains, you still have to slow way down to take these sharp turns. Just as you come out of one, you go into another. There are guard rails now (not in 1977), but they would be of little help if you hit them with any force. As you go up Highway 16, sometimes you are at the base of trees and suddenly you are in the treetops, like you are tumbling as the mountain rises and falls around you. For those moments you are traveling in the treetops, the mountain is so steep you can’t see the bottoms of the trees, and it feels like you are soaring through the air.

            Even though it’s against the law, occasionally truck drivers, not familiar with Walker’s Mountain, decide to drive over it because it is a shortcut to Tazewell, Virginia. They soon get caught on the curves and can go no further. The police are called and close the road so the truck can be backed down the mountain.

            There is not much traffic. But the word traffic doesn’t apply. Even normal sized cars are transformed into runaway freight trains hurling down the mountain. You can’t hear anything until it's right on top of you because the woods are so dense.

            According to the paper, Sharon was found “about .3 of a mile from the top of the mountain.” We stopped at the top of the mountain and turned on the odometer. About .3 of a mile from the top of the mountain is a steep embankment. Just beyond the embankment, the woods are thick. The road is so curvy we both are convinced that it would take at least two people to throw a body out of a moving vehicle.

After we drive by the place we think Sharon was found, my friend tells me that she heard someone dumped an ashtray at this spot, and the cigarette butts had lipstick on them. Also, the cops somehow knew that the rope tied around Sharon was done by a woman. I asked her if she remembers how she felt after hearing about the murder as a kid.

“Confused,” she says. This answer really surprised me.

“Why?”

“When people were talking about satanic cults, they said the Satanists only killed virgins. At that age, I wasn’t quiet sure what a virgin was, but I was pretty sure I was one. So I thought they could come after me next.”

Finally, we visited Sharon’s grave at Grosses’s Creek Cemetery several miles outside of Chilhowie. It is a quite place. The tombstones spill down a hill to a country road. Across the road from the graveyard is a cornfield. Even the countryside in Chilhowie has many more houses than it did when I lived here, but Grosses’s Creek Cemetery is still a tranquil country place.

On top of Sharon’s grave was a large fake bouquet of birthday cake blue roses. The bouquet was tied with a frayed white satin ribbon. Silver vases stood on either side of her gravestone and were stuffed with bunches of plastic sky blue hydrangea. Engraved over her name was a flowery pattern with an open Bible-type book in the middle. The book said, “Asleep in Jesus.” As we drove out of the cemetery, a teenage boy sitting on the steps of a house whittled a large stick. He smiled and waved at us like we were kin.

The people of Appalachia love the grotesque: amputations, disease, blindness, suicide, madness. This story of Sharon Blankenbeckler is something that normally would be the stuff of conversations even 33 years later. It’s the silence that makes me keep my light on at night, the silence of people who are still scared of something faceless, nameless in the dark. 


44 comments:

  1. Thank you Cindy for reminding us all what a terrible crime occured and is still unsolved. I remember when this happened and how it shook our small community. I hope justice for her will some day be done.

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  2. Such a sad time.. i'll never forget that part of my life.. i lost my sister the summer before to a drunk driver, on Hwy 107 at midway.. Sarah Terry.. sometimes i wonder if it might be better if we could just forget them altogether.. everytime i see her smile i'm reminded of her lying in that awful casket and then i think of that awful man and what he did and what i'd like to do to him and i feel even worse... memories. why?.........................

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  3. Cindy-I never really knew Sharon although she is my cousin on my father's side. I was 8 years old when it happened and it hit the family very hard. It still does to this day. Part of the family is buried at Grosses Creek and part at Macedonia and our Blankenbeckler family reunions are held every year at one of these churches since uncle Byron died. When I started working for Kmart in 1987 I took extra precautions and made sure we all walked out of work together. Thank you for keeping folks aware-she was beautiful inside and out.

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  4. I REMEMBER HEARING ABOUT THIS AS A CHILD THAN THE CASE BEING TOLD IN HIGH SCHOOL ADVANCED BIOLOGY CLASS DURING FORENSICS WEEK. THANK YOU CINDY FOR SHARING THIS

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  5. I was 9 years old when this happened to Sharon, I remember it like it was yesterday and speak about it often. Having 3 children of my own, I have used Miss Sharon's story as an example that, yes, this does happen around here. Thank you so, so much Cindy for posting this blog. I'm so happy that you've kept her memory alive.

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  6. I was 13 when this happened and remember hearing all the stories. It was at that moment I lost the notion of childhood innocence. In that moment, my parents became much more protective and life changed as we knew it in our home. I visited Chilhowie recently, and I feel safer with my city life than I do in Chilhowie. She deserves justice, and hopefully some day the answers will come out.

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  7. Wow Cindy, I had actually forgotten about this. I was a Junior in High School when this happened. I went to church with Sharon Blankenbeckler and her brother Joey at Grosses’s Creek Baptist Church.

    I remember Sharon, as being very quite. Seems she never spoke unless spoken too.

    Whoever, did this will get what is coming to them when this world ends....

    Thanks again for reminding us of Sharon....

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  8. their have been several murder's in this area that have gone unsolved,or listed as a siuside. does anyone remember larry doane? he didnt kill his self. he was murdered and everyone who knew him,knows it;

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    1. I remember and think he was murdered too.

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    2. is there any info available online about Mr Doane? When did this happen and was he from Marion or Chilhowie?

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    3. Larry was living in Saltville at sin city at the time.cops pretty much knew who did it but was afraid to investigate it.

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  9. Don't forget the disappearance of the Billings boy. There has never been any thing found out about him.

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  10. Thanks for the article. I see even more disinformation when looking up the burial plot. Multiple sites show the incorrect death date but if you see here http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Blankenbeckler&GSiman=1&GScty=150299&GRid=58283141& there is a photo of the Headstone with the correct death date. Searching cold case murders normally brings up plentiful data but again there are no results when searching for this murder. It would be a good time to request the case file and see if indeed this case is open or this is solved and noone was prosecuted.

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  11. Better link for the above link to the tombstone image:

    http://tinyurl.com/sharonblankenbeckler

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  12. This case interests me...I was 10 yrs old when this happened in Marion...anyone have names of the other unsolved cases that was mentioned? I couldn't find any info on Larry Doane or a Billings boy...I would really like to see the actual case file on this unsolved murder..I feel like there is a small detail that could trigger someones memory of this incident. I do not feel that it was a stranger, I personally feel it was someone local that knew the area and knew to take her up the mountain Hwy 16....who did the car belong to that had the brush, etc that was supposedly found in belong to? or what type of vehicle was it...just curious...

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    1. http://www.nampn.org/cases/billings_donald.html

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    2. I have heard also that Larry was murdered....Donnie I have heard he is very much alive but in protective custody! But who knows

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    3. well, that could explain why law enforcement 'dropped the ball' on Donald Billings case....guess no one would ever be able to find that out then...

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    4. did ANYONE out there hear that police were at one time looking for the owner of a yellow monte carlo???? & that they had questioned someone who worked at Long John Silvers who had owned one back then but he/she was not involved...just wondering if this is true, were they still looking for an owner of a car like this??

      Also, if the part about the ash tray ashes being found close to Sharon's body was true...were here cigarette butts left too?? I had heard that they never degrade so if they were there...what brand of cigarette???? Those are the types of small details that might seem unimportant but could possibly jar someones memory....and what made them think that the rope she was tied with was tied by a female?



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  13. Well, the missing Billings man was last seen walking away from an accident at Hungry Mother Grocery..which is right off Hwy 16...& I think it was said that he was last seen walking toward Mitchell Valley....the location of Sharon's body and the accident site of where Mr Billings supposedly had his accident are awfully close together. Again...above, there was a ? about Sharon's brush being found in someone's vehicle? Anyone know what type/kind of vehicle..and wondering if Billings was involved in accident with another car...if so, what type and if not, what kind of vehicle was the person driving who happened to see Billings 'walking toward Mitchell Valley'...I personally think there is some connection between these two...they went missing about 10 years apart, same time of year also

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    1. Donald Billings was driving a black dodge Daytona. He was not involved in an accident with another vehicle. He ran off the road. A Man stopped to ask him if he was o.k. He said he was. The man saw him walking toward Mitchell Valley Road. That was the last anyone has saw him.

      http://doenetwork.org/cases/1912dmva.html

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    2. Ok, something I read made me think that he had actually had an accident with another car...wonder how someone could find out ANYthing about the man who stopped to ask if he was ok? wonder what THAT man was driving? Just seems coincidental to me anyway, that Donald Billings and Sharon were both missing from locations not too far from each other...& the fact that Sharon's body was found where it was seems like that would be a place where someone was familiar...odd places for total strangers to the area would be, dont you think?

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    3. In addition...if Donnie is in fact really still missing...seems odd to me that a man would stop to ask if he was okay...& that was it...would just sit & watch him walk away & not offer him a ride, or at least to a phone to where he could call someone, tow truck, police, etc...? Nowadays, seems like that last person to see him would have been grilled for a lot more info than just that

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    4. The gentleman was older and worked at the campground. He immediately went to Hungry Mother Grocery and called the police. He was probably assuming Donald would still be somewhere around the scene of the accident when police arrived.

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    5. The Hungry Mother Grocery that I remember (?) was right at a fork in the road and there were several mobile homes behind it I believe, and some kind of 'fort' right across from it that I always wanted to go into as a kid but never did....the campground I remember was on down Hwy 16 a ways, toward the lake. I personally think it ia a bit odd that since Donald was walking on Hwy 16 when he was last seen and the body of Sharon was found up the mountain not too far from that grocery store that these two cases are not unrelated.....it was just by chance anyone ever saw Sharon's body...Mr Billings body could have been dumped there too somewhere....I remember those curvy mountainous roads, lots of brush, thick trees, etc...So sad these 2 families have no closure...but at least they found Sharon's body..I can't imagine never ever finding a family member who just disappeared, how sad...Marion is such a small town, I just feel in my heart it was someone who lived around there very close in both cases...At first I was thinking maybe the man who saw Donald wreck may have known more but the way you describe it probably not...I wonder if those areas were ever really searched? so many years have gone by now though...esp. since Sharon was killed...but I bet there is something, some small detail that seems unimportant that could help piece things together if ppl would start talking about these two cases again

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  14. I was 8 years old when this happened and I've never forgotten her name. Thank you for allowing her memory to live on. I hope some day the mystery surrounding her death will be solved.

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  15. Thanks Cindy. You told this story just as I remember it. Nuances and rumors included. Great story about a time that should not be lost. Have you thought about publishing this and other local stories?

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  16. I can vaguely remember hearing about this as a kid, then we also had some info on it in a biology class at MSHS. I was under the impression, based on what we heard in school, that the story about the golf tee was true, that the tire was flattened by someone letting the air out.

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  17. Just a few years ago a woman was murdered on Old Stage Rd, right in the middle of the town of Chilhowie, inside the home she rented and lived in with her infant child who was left unharmed but alone for a couple of days until the woman's body was discovered and this murder also remains unsolved and I far as I know there was never even much of an investigation. I live just one street over & never even heard a thing about it until over a year after it happened. For some reason things like this are kept quiet & it seems like not much is ever done to find the person responsible..

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    1. What was her name? Sad....When was this?? wondering if it was around the same time?

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  18. Suggest this case to Cold Justice:

    http://www.tntdrama.com/series/cold-justice/tips/

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  19. I lived in Rich Valley when this happened! My Dad and I were coming from Rich Valley to Marion the day they found her! When we came around the curve, there were lots of people out of their cars looking over the mountain! My first thought was that a vehicle had wrecked and went over the bank! We got out of our car and walked to the edge of the road! I will never forget that day and what I saw! I don't remember seeing the police, just a lot of Gawker's! We didn't hang around! Writing this brings back exactly what I saw that day! I don't remember her being face down! I did see the rope and will never forget anything else I saw! It's very scarey not knowing if you live next to or actually know the killer! So sad!

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  20. http://www.swvatoday.com/news/article_b672c230-fb8a-5038-befe-da8f6aed7ed6.html

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  21. Did anyone think to question the guy, Howard Buchanan, who found Sharon? I watch a lot of ID Channel and that's what often happens on those cases. If I had been an investigating officer I would have kept him on a list of suspects.

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  22. I remember Sharon very well, she was a quiet, sweet, withdrawn and lovely young lady only 3 years older than me and lived just down the road from us. The day she disappeared was a beautiful, hot saturday and everyone kept saying she had to know whom she had left the parking lot with because no one saw any type of ruckus. I was also working at SCCH when her body was brought in. It was an extremely sad situation. I recall all the rumors going around that were mentioned above. It was really a terrifying time for our small town and one that changed all our lives forever. I really wish they could solve this murder and put it to rest once and for all.

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  23. Thank you for reminding us of this tragic event; we need to pray for her family & to pray that justice will be served.

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  24. I have a friend who dated Howard Buchanan. As for Larry Doane the only Larry Doane I know of was raised in the New Quarry in a place caled Page Town. He has been in and out of jail for many years. A few years ago he was driving a car in the community of Meadowview called Green Shutters. There was a trailer parked Larry ran the car under the trailer decapitating the passenger. This past few months he stabbed her girlfriend/wife??as well as maybe harming another person.

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    1. They were referring to a Larry Doane that is dead, not the one you are referring to.

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  25. The Larry Doane that is dead I heard that the other Larry"Doane" family had something to do with it. I didnt know either one but worked with the Larry Doane that is deads sister and she has no idea other than he was murdered of what happened.

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  26. Does no one respect anyone privacy anymore. All of this is tragic and needs to be solved, but have respect for these families. They had to deal with the death of a loved one and don't need to read everyones opinions and rumors 33 years later. These family members do see these blogs and when they see something like this pop up on there page they relive it all over again. How would you feel if this happened to you? I wasn't even born when this happened to Sharon, but I'm close to the family. All these rumors are just that RUMORS. If you're going to write about something like this why don't you get the families permission before doing this. Who knows one day you might end up with a big lawsuit against you for invading privacy then posting it for the world to read. You should be ashamed.

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  27. I do not be believe this is disrespectful Of Sharon. As NONE of her family is mentioned, I'm not sure whose privacy is supposed to be compromised. This was written from the point of view of an 11 yo girl and how her life changed after Sharons death. As a 12 yo old girl, at the time, I can tell you a whole generation of young girls lives were changed by Sharons death. But it shouldn't be up for discussion because you're offended? I am offended that the murderer is still on the loose. I am offended by the possibility that her murderer might be my neighbor, insurance agent, gas attendant. I am offended by the idea that perhaps this murder was never solved because of people like you saying, SHHhhhhhhhhhhhhh lets not talk about it. No one asked me before they killed her if it was ok to make us all afraid of the dark, strangers, going places alone, crossing a parking lot. While anyone with an ounce of sense knows her family still suffers deeply over this, the entire community was hurt. We didn't have to know her, although on occasion, I had attended church with her, we all saw her beautiful picture, we all heard the NICE things other people said about her, she became the communities Sharon too. Further, the writer of this blog did not hurt her family, the person who murdered her did. Threaten the author all you want, it won't change that fact. All anyone I've ever known wanted, was for the person responsible for this to pay the debt they owe SHARON and her family and frankly the debt they owe the rest of us who were forever changed by her beautiful smile and sweet disposition. As far as this blog goes, you might be interested in knowing it shared by one her FAMILY MEMBERS.

    I am sorry you don't seem to understand the intent behind this blog. But the whole point was to see her murder solved, after 39 years, I believe its well passed time. If you don't want that, then YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED.

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  28. A cousin of mine also went missing in the 70s, maybe 80s, I was just a child then. She was last seen in Marion. Barbara Pauley, nothing ever came of that investigation either.

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  29. This was a sad time here in our area, It should never be forgotten, tell all the kids about this, there is still a murderer/murderers living amongst us. Be safe keep our children safe.

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