Late one summer night last year, Skylar Neese, 16, crept out of her family’s home in Star City and hopped in a car with two people.  She never made it home.

Her badly decomposed body was found six months later in a ditch about 20 miles west of Morgantown.  She had been stabbed to death.

For months the disappearance of the bright University High School student has been the subject of myriad social media theories and community gossip.  All the while, authorities said little about the investigation.

Then Wednesday there was a stunning development.  One of Skylar’s high school classmates was brought quietly into Monongalia County Circuit Court.  Rachel Shoaf, 16, believed to be one of Skylar’s best friends, admitted to stabbing Skylar to death the night of her disappearance.

(Read Shoaf plea agreement here.)

Shoaf pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was taken away for a pre-sentencing review.  The prosecution will recommend a 20-year sentence, while the defense will request that she be sentenced as a juvenile, which would likely mean a lighter penalty.

State and federal prosecutors are saying virtually nothing about the details of the case, but it’s evident that Shoaf’s plea was carefully orchestrated.  The plea agreement requires her to “offer truthful and forthright testimony in any subsequent proceeding deemed necessary.”

(Read Shoaf family apology here.)

And that’s where the second defendant in this emotion-charged case comes in.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says, “Charges are pending against a second juvenile who is currently in custody in Monongalia County.”  Officials are prevented by law from releasing the suspect’s name, but she is believed to be another one of Skylar’s classmates.

The next step for this second suspect will be a preliminary hearing within 10 days behind closed doors before a circuit judge. At some point, she could be transferred to adult status, depending on the charges.

Shoaf’s guilty plea suggests a lesser charge and lighter sentence in return for her testimony against the second defendant.

What is still missing from the case, however, is a reasonable explanation as to what happened that July night.  Neese’s father, Dave, believes the three girls traveled to the western end of Monongalia County, perhaps to go to party, but what exactly happened and the possible motive remains elusive.

“Why?  I want to know why it happened,” Neese told MetroNews Wednesday.  “I don’t want to hear that they were mad (at each other).  There has to be another reason why.”

The crime is particularly difficult for Neese to comprehend because the two suspects were always with Skylar.  “I thought of these girls as her best friends,” Neese said.


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  • Ryandhsjhdu

    WOW man thats bad

  • Crappy Slappy


  • North

    Read this...

    All I can say is wow.

  • robin

    I think in reading all of the comments the community has become more concerned with the details of this horrific act than the facts. No matter how much you speculate on why, the punishment, who did what acts or didnt you need to remember that this has a direct impact on the families involved. The Neese family has lived this every day and will for the rest of their lives and to have their daughter constantly be a source of debate does not help them in any way. The other families involved also have to live with the reality of what their children did. It is time to leave the courts handle the matters according to the evidence they have, pray for all involved and become involved in your community, your children and help the Neese family see something positive come from this tragedy.

  • Sending thoughts

    Sending love and thoughts to this family. We need to all stand up against violence - being a teenager and a kid is no longer innocent. If you are a parent and you think your children have issues, come forward.

  • Gaby F.

    this completley disgusts me.
    wh would anyone do this?
    oh you dont want to be her friend anymore?
    they both deserve to rot in jail all their lives,
    even if one of them "sang like a bird" they both were in on it, and there's probably no way one of them came up with the whole thing themselves.
    what i want to know is why they REALLY killed her.
    im not convinced that they killed her because "they didnt want to be her friend."

  • D

    It is these kinds of things that make me want to kill myself. I do not want to live in this world

    • Sending thoughts

      You should stay in this world and make it a better place for all. Every good heart matters.

  • cortney

    what they should do to the both of them is send them to texas and give them the execution penalty.. that is just horrible and sickening that kids cant even have friends anymore. You dont just take someone who is supposed to be your best friend and stab them to death. how would she feel if someone stabbed her a couple times and just dump her in a ditch to bleed to death and die.. they should suffer for every day that skylar couldn't be found.. that makes me scared for my kids life and who she "trusts" and is friends with.. and i think the parents diserve to be punished to because where were they at when this was happening.. there had to be something wrong in their parenting skills for their daughters to be so hateful and cold hearted to kill supposedly their best friend..thats just something they wil have to live with for the rest of their lives remembering all the fun times they had together and they are the ones that took all that away from her..

    • Gaby F.

      gotta love texas..
      but so true.

  • L

    I went to elementary and middle school with Rachael. I can't believe what's happening...

  • BigDave

    I'll just post it for you. Again, this is from the link I posted in the comment above:

    Message from Skylar's mother


    Mary Earl Neese

    This is very lengthy but here it is: The time has come to tell the full Skylar story from beginning to end as we know it to this point. Please feel free to copy and paste this to your walls so everyone can share, share and share it again. We want this story to get to as many people and places as we can get it for full exposure. While doing this we would like to push the petition for Skylar's law in hopes that in the future no other family will have do endure the heartache and anger that this situation has put us through. We have the full cooperation of law enforcement to proceed with everything that follows:
    On 7/7/12 I received a call from my husband Dave asking where Skylar was. He had come home for lunch and to leave the car for Skylar to take to work and she was no where to be found. I told Dave that she was probably shopping or swimming with her friends and to call her bestie. He did and when he contacted her best friend she stated she had not seen nor heard from Skylar. Dave called me again and I gave him a couple more names to call. He called these girls also and again no one had seen or heard from Skylar. Dave called me again and I told him not to worry that she had to be at work at 4:00 and she never missed work so we would check with them around 4 to make sure she had shown up. I returned home from work and was just ready to call her work when the phone rang and it was her work place calling to see if Skylar was going to report to work. At this time I started to panic and called her bestie again and again we were told she had not seen or heard from Skylar. About 15 minutes later her bestie called me back saying she had to tell me the whole story and proceeded to tell me that she, Skylar and another bestie had snuck out the night before and drove around town and were back home and in bed around midnight. She stated the they had dropped Skylar off at the end of our street because Skylar was insistent that she did not want us to hear her sneaking back in the house. At this point we immediately called local law enforcement (city law enforcement) and they responded quickly and we did a neighborhood search and went door to door asking if anyone had seen or heard anything the night before. The neighboorhood watch program seems to be a little lacking as no one had seen or heard a thing. The city police were ready to call in search and rescue as we live close to the rail trail and the Monongahela River. I remembered that we have security cameras and the landlord was called to check his cameras and it revealed Skylar sneaking out her bedroom window and walking across the parking lot and getting into a car. The video was blurry and less than optimal and we were not able to make out the make or license plate of the car. At this point local law enforcement (city) considered her a runaway and everything came to a halt.
    From the point of her being seen getting into the car the only thing we could do was to distribute Missing posters and rely on tips phoned in to the police. Many days and nights were spent following up on these leads and supposed sightings and none of them proved to have any merit. With the support of the community we continued on and it seemed as though nothing was getting accomplished. When we contacted the City police we were constantly being told by the Chief that she was a runaway and would return and there was nothing they could do but they were following up on all tips they received. This scenario continued for 2 months until I could no longer take it. I know my daughter and I know that she would not stay away that long without contacting someone. I may be vain in assuming it but I truly feel that she could not stay away from me that long let alone her friends. I went to the city police station one day and had no intention of leaving the premises without some answers. I was told in no uncertain terms by the Chief of the Police that she was a runaway until information proved otherwise and that he could not share all the information he had with me. Although this same Chief was sharing information with people on the telephone whom we do not even know and we were finding out this information on facebook. Again, I may be vain but I feel that the parents should have this information first without having to find it out through total strangers in the neighborhood and on facebook. I had asked the Chief to call for help from the State Police and he stated that he had a consultant with the States and he did not need any further help and even stated that he asked the States for help and they refused. At this point I was told to leave his office.
    Upon returning home I could not accept that 2 months had passed with no word from Skylar and they were still considering her a runaway so I called the State Police myself and was told that yes, they had received missing fliers on Skylar to distribute and keep an eye out for her but no, they had not been asked to help with the investigation and that they would never refuse to assist with a missing persons case. From that point on the States have been continually assisting with Skylar's case and a lot of things have been discovered and revealed. The number one and main factor is that the law considers a missing child a runaway instead of a missing person until it is proven otherwise. We have lost valuable time and progress in that 2 months time because nothing was done and the Chief was waiting for her to return home. We now have a petition to enact Skylar's law that will hopefully go to the legislature in January for approval to reverse this law and make it that a missing person is a missing person until it is proven they are a runaway. This law will ensure that local law enforcement do everything at their disposal to find a missing person before the trail is cold. We have the approval of State and Federal law enforcement to enact this law and they are behind it 100%.
    At this point the investigation became top priority for the State Police and the FBI. Interviews were being conducted and investigations were done into cell phones, computers, ipods, etc. I must make note that the Apple corporation was contacted at this time with subpeonas from the FBI to disclose the last location that Skylar had used her ipod and Apple refused. They were contacted several times by both the State and Federal levels and to this day they have refused to cooperate. We have been told that this could have been over months ago if they were willing to cooperate. Through these investigations it was discovered that Skylar's 2 best friends that she had snuck out with were not telling the whole truth. They have continued to withhold information to this day and have been caught in multiple lies to both the State and Federal authorities. The original belief was that they were in fear of retrubution or the consequences of others. At this point both girls have been offered immunity and still refuse to cooperate. The supposed bestest friend of Skylar's has even failed her lie detector test. The other best friend has not shown up for her testing or last interrogation. She conveniently disappeared and did not show at her lawyer's office for her last appointment. These girls seem to believe that they are invincible and nothing will happen to them but subpeonas and warrants are being issued for the next Grand Jury in January.
    Throughout all this nightmare, the girls have withheld information. In the beginning her best friend would come to the house and cry with us and say that she wanted Skylar home. I loved these girls unconditionally and would have never dreamed they could be capable of things such as this. I felt about them as my daughters. This is truly the ultimate betrayal. The other friend never showed at our house and has only contacted us on a couple of occasions throughout these past 5 months. It is appearing at this point with all of the investigative information that these girls are more guilty than originally suspected. It just sickens me to know that anyone at this young of an age could sit by and let their supposed best friend disappear in this way. If it was truly something that happened as an accident they have had every opportunity to come forward with this information and have even been offered immunity. At this point it looks like foul play has occurred and murder has not been ruled out. I cannot stress enough what this has done to not only Dave and I but to the entire community. There has been a huge outpouring of love and support for us and we truly could not have come this far without all this love and support. It is time for these girls to come forward with everything they know. Our family needs closure to move on whether it be with Skylar's remains or the best scenario is that it be Skylar herself.

    • Paul

      Wow! The Morgantown police sat on this and they had to get the State Police on it themselves. Absolutely incredible.

      Then there is Apple refusing to help.

      This just gets worse, as though it isn't bad enough. The worst is yet to come when we get the complete details either from a plea or trial.

  • BigDave

    I hope WVMetroNews lets me post this link because it's very relevant to this story.

    Go to page 6 of the following link and read what Skylar's mom wrote regarding the events in this case.

  • Brian

    What is a wrong with the Laws of justice? The BIBLE said a eye for and eye. I feel the justice is wrong Skylar wll never comehome again or have the right to tell her father and mother she loves them.Life behind bar's isn't good enough. They will see tomorow but skylar never will again.Put them in jail for life and forget about them. They should never be free t be outside again.

  • UHS Parent

    I want to know who was driving the car. Neither of the girls in custody would've been drivers last summer.

    • Fairmont

      The other one was, indeed, a licensed driver last summer.

  • Shadow

    By the number of comments, no one in this State was exempt from sorrow. It affected everyone.

  • Brianna Sprouse

    I Think 20 Years Isn't Enough Time For This Girl She Should Be Put In Prison For Life. She Needs To Pay For What She Has Done. She needs To Be Reminded Of What She Has Done. I Don't Know How She Can Live With Herself Knowing She Did Something Like That.