For nearly nine months, the people of this West Virginia town saw the face of missing 16-year-old honors student Skylar Neese everywhere — beaming at them from fliers that were posed all over this small town of less than 2000 people.  She had been missing since she slipped out of her bedroom window one night last summer, but most residents thought that she had run away.  Police chased numerous leads with no luck.

The break came recently, when one of Neese’s friends, 16-year-old Rachel Shoaf, admitted plotting with another girl to kill her.

The two girls were charged with luring the straight-A student at University High School out of her family’s apartment in the middle of the night, stabbing her to death and hiding her body under some branches in a Pennsylvania township about 30 miles away from her house.

One of these girls, who have now pleaded guilty, had spent time with Neese’s mother after the slaying and even helped with the search.

The cold calculation and brutality of the plot shocked a community already frustrated by the slow pace and secrecy surrounding the case.  Investigators have said little since announcing the charges three weeks ago and court documents offer no insight into the motive.

Shoaf pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Monongalia County Circuit Court on May 1 and awaits sentencing in a juvenile detention center.  The other girl’s identity is, for now, shrouded by the confidentiality of juvenile court but, most people in this small town have figured out who it is.  It’s also unclear whether prosecutors will try to have the second suspect charged as an adult, as Shoaf was.

The mystery began July 6, 2012, when Neese climbed out of her bedroom window.  Surveillance video showed her getting into a car at the end of her street in a quiet residential neighborhood near West Virginia University.  With no sign of fear, no money and no contact lenses, she apparently expected to return.  When she didn’t, Dave and Mary Neese, her parents, became worried.  Police initially suspected their daughter was a runaway, but her parents knew better.  They walked up and down Crawford Street with Neese’s photo, and also plastered fliers everywhere.

For months, police chased down tips to no avail. The break in the case came Jan. 3, when Shoaf finally told investigators the truth — and where to find the body.  But it wasn’t until March that authorities confirmed it was Neese.

The three girls drove to Wayne Township, Pa., got out of the car, and the suspects pretended to socialize with Neese.  It was at this point that the two girls attacked and stabbed her to death. They then tried to bury Neese, but covered her with branches when they couldn’t.

Prosecutors say they plan to recommend a 20-year prison sentence. But Shoaf could get as many as 40 years under the law.

Shoaf’s family issued a public apology through a lawyer but has made no further statements.

“There is no way to describe the pain that we, too, are feeling,” they said. “We are truly sorry for the pain that she has caused the Neese family, and we know her actions are unforgivable and inexcusable. Our daughter has admitted her involvement, and she has accepted responsibility for her actions.”

People need to wake up to the fact that, what is occurring in our high schools is more than “bullying.”  You look at the news and this idea of teens killing teens is becoming epidemic.  What has happened to the social norms that make kids realize that killing someone is wrong and no disagreement or offense deserves this type of tragic response?

This type of story only begs the question of why.  Why would you feel such hatred toward another individual?  What did this person do to you that was so grievous, in nature?  Is this due to a lack of religion in the home or poor parenting?  So many unanswered questions, but society better take notice because it has gotten out of hand and must be dealt with soon.

 

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