This is the third part in a series about new evidence and information concerning the infamous Keddie murders of April 11, 1981. It’s a case where the bodies of Glenna “Sue” Sharp, 36, her son, John, 15, and his friend Dana Wingate, 17, were found brutally murdered on the floor of the Sharps’ Keddie home, cabin 28. The remains of the daughter, Tina, 12, who was discovered missing later that day, were recovered near Feather Falls in 1984. Coincidence or not, these remains were discovered three years almost to the date of the unsolved murders. While the two major suspects are dead, there are individuals still living who are of interest to law enforcement.
Editor’s note: This is the third part in a series about Plumas County’s unsolved Keddie murders. Some readers might find the following information unsettling or objectionable.
Why would two men wearing three-piece suits and sunglasses appear in Keddie’s Back Door bar about 10 p.m. the night of April 11, 1981 unless it was to draw attention to themselves — to help establish an alibi?
Most agree, this wasn’t the kind of bar where men went wearing suits — not when that was their destination; not when they were Keddie residents and jobless.
No one seems to mention what Marilynn Smartt wore that night when she accompanied her husband Martin “Marty” Smartt and his pal Severin John “Bo” Boubede to the local bar that night.
They left after a few hours when Jan Albin, a co-owner, supposedly changed the music from country to rock. They didn’t like it. They were angry.
In what could be considered another move to draw attention to themselves, Smartt said he called the bartender to complain. He used the telephone in his cabin and then to put a good face on things, they returned to the bar for a last drink, he told two special agents from the California Department of Justice.
Marilyn went to bed when they arrived home the first time, Smartt told CA-DOJ organized crime special agents Harry Bradley and P.A. “Mike” Crim in an interview following the murders.
He said they left the bar just before closing time, a little before 2 a.m.
But special investigator Mike Gamberg and website administrator for Keddie28.com, dmac, believe more happened that night, especially in cabin 28.
Gamberg is on a special mission to solve the 37-year-old murder case, where four people were brutally murdered, and probably all within the tiny railroad town and former resort community called Keddie.
It’s an unsolved murder of a mother, two of her children and her son’s friend. Gamberg has felt powerless over it since the day it happened April 11, 1981.
It continues to haunt him even now that he’s in charge of following the evidence left ignored or deliberately buried by law enforcement for three decades.
He interviews or re-interviews anyone still connected with the case. He continues to study the files and scene photos. He uses the skills he’s amassed during a career in law enforcement that included homicide investigation.
Dmac, in turn, is following the paper trail. He’s looked at suspects’ birth and death certificates, followed their trails, studied veterans’ records and combed newspapers as he’s followed the people and their activities. He’s sent tentacles throughout the web where he maintains a solid following of readers and a few very reliable assistants.
It’s become their mission to solve the case of the Keddie murders — one as a professional, the other as a concerned citizen with research talent and computer skills. Dmac admits he wants to see justice served. Gamberg wants to find closure for those who have spent the majority of their lives affected by the crime.
Gamberg and dmac could step away and leave the case now that the two chief suspects are dead, but there are others still living they believe who were involved.
Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood is optimistic that people involved in the case will come forward or evidence will lead to an arrest or arrests. “If it’s a death bed confession, I’ll take it,” he said.
There’s more damning alleged evidence against Smartt. Even though he’s dead, evidence provides a clearer picture of what happened inside cabin 28 that night, and why and how he and Boubede were allegedly involved in the deaths of four people.
Two years ago, Gamberg told the Sacramento Bee and others that a counselor, who will remain anonymous, at the Veterans Administration in Reno came forward with information concerning Smartt. He said Smartt confessed while he was his patient. This occurred during a seventh appointment with Smartt, just weeks after the Keddie murders.
Smartt allegedly wanted to clear his conscience and admitted to killing Sue and her daughter, Tina Sharp.
“I killed the woman and her daughter, but I didn’t have anything to do with the [boys],” according to the counselor’s recollection from May 1981.
Smartt could have been under the false assumption that what he told his counselor would remain confidential. But the law states otherwise when it comes to a confession of murder.
Dmac, who has researched Smartt’s alleged confession, pointed out that the counselor said that while Smartt was talking about Sue’s murder, Smartt “was a zero during the confession. No stress, flat affect. Until he mentioned Tina.”
“When asked why Tina didn’t run away, Marty indicated he’d incapacitated her,” according to the counselor. Dmac is inclined to believe Tina was already dead.
Either the counselor didn’t ask for more details or Smartt didn’t provide any.
When asked for motive, Smartt told the counselor he was convinced Sue was responsible for Marilyn wanting a divorce. In looking at what’s been amassed concerning the Smartts’ troubled relationship, there are many reasons why it wasn’t working out for the couple. It seemed doomed from the beginning, as one follows the dysfunctionality of their relationship.
Smartt told his counselor he had to kill Tina because, “She saw the whole thing. I couldn’t have a witness.”
The counselor said he advised Marty he needed to turn himself in. The counselor said that his patient just smiled at his advice.
When asked about a polygraph test that law enforcement requested Smartt take soon after the murders, Smartt said to his counselor, “I beat it. Those things are easy to beat. I was lying, and they let me go!”
Gamberg said that in an earlier session with the counselor, Smartt was so angry that they couldn’t achieve a worthwhile dialogue. Although the counselor couldn’t remember the name of the woman Smartt was angry with, Gamberg said it was Sue Sharp.
The counselor told Gamberg he alerted the authorities (DOJ) at the time and was surprised it didn’t lead to an arrest.
The counselor said he called DOJ and asked for the special agents working the Keddie case, Bradley and Crim. He said he told them of the confession, and was told the partners would like to meet with him.
Gamberg said the agents did meet with the counselor, but they dismissed his allegations as “hearsay.”
Here again is part of the evidence that makes Gamberg and dmac strongly believe the Keddie murders were part of a cover-up. Nothing else makes sense to them. Again, Boubede was probably a person of interest to DOJ and they in part were helping him. But more than likely, it was part of a bigger conspiracy.
Dmac points to the possible involvement of two allegedly corrupt DOJ special agents and their potential involvement in the big drug smuggling operations then backed by the CIA in the early 1980s.
Also, Smartt went on to tell the counselor that allegedly he and Sheriff Doug Thomas were friends. Thomas lived in cabin 28 prior to the Sharps’ arrival, both Gamberg and dmac learned. It was an easy walk along the Keddie Resort Road from cabin 26 to cabin 28. They could have met in the bar, or allegedly been involved in nefarious activities.
Smartt said Thomas allegedly allowed him to live in cabin 28 with him for a time when Smartt was having marital problems with Marilyn.
In information recovered by dmac, Thomas was asked if he knew Martin Smartt. Thomas said he and Marty were “great pals,” and Marty spent hours with him while on patrol. Thomas said that Martin and Marilyn Smartt allegedly came to him once for marriage counseling, but he said he pointed out he was hardly the person to give advice. Thomas was recently divorced.
The night and early morning hours of the murders have been the subject of intense investigation.
There’s discussion that the two men had time to change from their suits into jeans and denim jackets before entering cabin 28 and allegedly attacking Sue Sharp.
One of the individuals who was in cabin 28 that night reported under hypnosis that he saw two men wearing jeans and jean jackets.
Under this theory, they subdued Sue Sharp, partially changed back into their suits and headed back to the bar. Just before closing time, they could have returned to cabin 28 and continued their alleged abuse.
Gamberg, however, thinks that the two men allegedly subdued Sue Sharp and then returned later in their suits. He doesn’t believe they took time to change clothes. He doesn’t believe they wore denim that night. Another individual said he saw Smartt burning clothes in a wood stove later that morning. Gamberg did not name the individual.
There is no evidence that bloody clothing allegedly worn by two men during the crime was recovered — “and the clothing would have been bloody,” Gamberg emphasized.
Blood splattered clothing, socks and girl’s shoes were found in the living room of cabin 28 by investigators but they seemed to belong to members of the family and not potential killers.
Besides what clothing the two men allegedly wore, there’s a slight time discrepancy. Smartt told special agents they left the bar before 2 a.m.
Gamberg has his source saying she dropped John and Dana off at cabin 28 between 10 and 11 p.m.
The boys went to the front door, Gamberg said, not around to the back to John’s bedroom.
There was no outside light on, but the driver could see light from inside the cabin. “She said it was real eerie. She said she was afraid and uncomfortable,” Gamberg said. She left immediately.
“I believe they probably went in the front door. The faint light could be the bathroom light, or Sue on the couch with only the TV on. I do believe J&D were in the basement when the killers entered, and Sue was fast asleep in the small bed just inside the girls’ bedroom door,” dmac explained. John’s bedroom could only be accessed outside in the rear of the cabin. Dmac believes they heard a noise, possibly a scream, and ran up the steep flight of back stairs to see what was the matter.
For some reason that lower room appears never to have been processed by law enforcement. If that room had been processed there might be evidence that the two teens were there before they were murdered. Dana was a diabetic and would more than likely have left his insulin and other evidence behind, according to dmac.
Either way, the two teens walked into a living nightmare. There’s a likelihood that John rushed to support his mother who was being allegedly brutalized by Smartt, Boubede and probably others.
John was immediately assaulted, according to evidence. At some point, Dana started to leave the room but he was savagely struck in the head from behind with a hammer or the Daisy 880 pellet rifle dmac claims was used in the crimes.
Gamberg believes the torture, especially of Sue Sharp, continued for quite a while. This was no spontaneous event. The killers were in cabin 28 for a while, he said.
Dmac believes the blood found on the bottoms of Sue’s feet, and evidenced in a few bloody footprints in the living room, show that someone walked her around to see what she had allegedly made them do to the other victims.
Smartt would have been aware of when railroad crews started a new shift early that morning and made sure they were well away from the cabin by at least 4 a.m. April 12, according to dmac.
Smartt and Boubede would have walked home to cabin 26 and gone to bed. Smartt stated to special agents that he was at home until around 10 a.m. the following morning.
Fact or fiction?
During one of two hypnosis sessions, Justin Smartt Eason described a dream he had that involved a boat and what was happening to the passengers on that boat. Justin is the 12-year-old boy who spent the night of the murders with the Sharp boys.
Under hypnosis, Justin describes the day he’d had. He said that later in the day Sheila and Tina were next door at the Seabolt’s house. Tina came home about 7:30 p.m. to wash the dishes and then returned next door. Sheila was spending the night there, but Tina had to return home. Justin said that Tina returned to cabin 28 around 9:30 p.m. and went to bed.
Justin, Rickey and Sue Sharp were known to have been watching “The Love Boat” on TV before going to bed at 10 p.m. That seems to be the theme as he described an alleged dream in which two men were involved in a fight with John Sharp and Dana Wingate and they got thrown overboard.
In the dream, one of the men had a pocketknife in his right hand and cut Sue Sharp in the chest. He also said that the same man had a hammer in his other hand.
Dmac is first of all a skeptic when it comes to hypnosis, but he is especially skeptical when it comes to Sheriff Thomas conducting the first hypnosis session with the youth. Thomas attended two different training sessions to learn hypnosis, especially to get someone to recall witnesses. Not long afterward, he was using it on a possible witness in perhaps the worst crime in Plumas history.
According to the transcript of an interview in 2003, Thomas said that he did the hypnosis with Justin, according to information from dmac’s website.
Under hypnosis on May 19, 1981, this time by Dr. Jerry Dash, a psychologist at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, Justin told of Tina Sharp. He said Tina allegedly woke up and appeared in the living room to see what was going on. She was carrying a blanket.
According to what Justin said under hypnosis, a man allegedly grabbed her and carried her through the kitchen and down the back stairs. The man then returned, removed a hunting knife that someone had stuck in one of the walls, picked up the blanket and left again, according to Gamberg.
Gamberg said that the residents of one of the neighboring cabins reported hearing a muffled scream. When they didn’t hear anything else, they went back to sleep.
That scream could have come from Tina inside the house, according to dmac. Or it could have come from her when she was carried outside, Gamberg said. They agree that apparently there was only one scream that might have come from Tina and then it was silenced. That’s when they believe she was killed.
The two investigators have different ideas about what happened. Gamberg believes that someone noticed Tina when she walked out of the bedroom, grabbed her and took her down the backstairs and killed her. She was probably stashed into a nearby vehicle and then driven away at some point. This could have been at any time since no roadblocks were established and vehicles weren’t searched. The location of some of the vehicles in that area was photographed as the DOJ helicopter flew over Keddie about noon April 12.
Dmac believes that Tina was murdered inside the house. Dmac believes Tina was attacked in bed, alongside her mother in the opposite bed, when the killers first entered the cabin. Dmac doesn’t believe she woke much later, as Justin claimed, coming out of the bedroom carrying a blanket. The only blanket found in the crime scene was the one Justin claimed to have used to cover Sue, which evidence shows came from the bed in which Sue slept. He believes that she was roused when they went into the bedroom to grab Sue Sharp — this is evidenced by blood spatter discovered in that room, he said, including blood on both beds.
She was then carried outside and across the narrow swinging bridge to the other side of Spanish Creek, according to dmac’s theory. She was left there until someone had time to take her body to Camp 18 near Feather Falls.
To use the swinging bridge, the individual carrying Tina Sharp would have risked notice, even at that time of night, even in the dark and the swinging bridge is outside of Keddie. Instead of following the main road around Keddie, the individual would have gone right off Spanish Oak Drive. That road winds around and then comes out into an open area. The bridge was close to a house.
Gamberg knew the people who lived in that house in 1981. They had dogs that barked and would have alerted them to someone or something coming onto the property. Gamberg believes the owners would have greeted anyone with a loaded firearm.
And then there’s the discrepancy about whether the gate on the bridge was locked or open. Dmac believes it was left unlocked on that particular night. Actually, dmac pointed out sheriff’s reports that showed the gate was always unlocked, including that night. The gate is also high enough that no one could have climbed over it.
If the gate was left open, then there would have still been the risk and challenge of carrying a blanket-covered girl the full length of the bridge — from one side of Spanish Creek to the other. The way to access that part of the river is along a private drive and past at least one home, according to Gamberg.
But when considering risk, dmac pointed out that to drive out of Keddie someone would have had to pass the two-story dorms and hotel as well as approximately 20 cabins.
Smartt and Boubede
Smartt told law enforcement that the first time he met Boubede was at the Veterans Administration hospital in Reno, while both were in the psychiatric unit.
According to Gamberg, a man named Dee Lake reportedly drove Smartt to the VA in Reno. Lake was a veterans’ services representative at Feather River College back then. Lake and Smartt may have met on campus or in Keddie. Lake allegedly had several other friends in Keddie.
In his third therapy session, Smartt told his counselor that he was suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). This was about the time the term started being used, according to Gamberg.
But Gamberg doesn’t believe Smartt had any reason to have PTSD. Lake allegedly might have suggested it to Smartt as a way to get veterans assistance and possible benefits.
Smartt did serve in the Army in Vietnam, but he was a cook on a military base near Saigon, one of the safest places to be during the war, Gamberg said.
According to the counselor, he asked Smartt “if he ever saw action or received rockets, mortar fire, ever even fired his rifle or heard gunfire. ‘No’ was the reply but he stated, when laying (sic) in bed, he worried it might happen. When he was pushed on the subject, he admitted he was never fearful, and that he ‘had an easy tour’ in the military,” according to dmac’s information.
Boubede served in the Air Force, Gamberg said, but there are discrepancies in Boubede’s time lines, according to dmac. Boubede claimed to be several things, including a peace officer, which was proven to be untrue. In one account, Boubede said that he had to retire from Cook County’s sheriff’s department because he was shot in the groin during a robbery. It’s true Boubede was involved in a robbery in which his uncle was shot in the groin by responding police, but nothing else is true according, to dmac.
Taking into account some of Boubede’s known aliases and varying birthdays, he would have been 9 years old when he did some of the things he claimed, dmac worked out.
What is known for certain is that Boubede served time for armed robbery in Chicago’s Statesville prison in Joliet. He also served time in California, according to Gamberg.
Jimmy Rini, whom dmac considers to have been Boubede’s de facto father after the death of his father and uncle, was heavily involved in organized crime in Chicago. Rini helped raise and mentored Boubede and, allegedly, Bo learned a lot from the Outfit enforcer.
Following Boubede’s known trail, dmac discovered, “Bo was in Vegas at multiple addresses, suspicious addresses on many levels due to their locations and their history. Bo was not in Vegas by chance,” he said.
Boubede was allegedly involved during this time with people heavily connected with moving large amounts of drugs and money around. “I’ve maintained Bo was in Vegas as an alleged enforcer and desert hole-digger. This is when Tony Spilotro was destroying the mob’s stronghold over Nevada gambling during his bloody reign,” dmac said.
And dmac maintains there was a connection with a group known as the Chicago Outfit, run over the years by Al Capone and Sam Giancana, which also had control of interests in Nevada gambling.
Boubede was allegedly long involved with law enforcement in that it involved payoffs and the law looking the other way, according to what dmac has learned.
It might sound a bit wild on the surface, but dmac has done his homework when it comes to Boubede’s links to organized crime. He’s also found many links with Chicago’s mobs and activities in various parts of the United States. Dmac wrote in 2013 about Boubede’s alleged activities, “… but we definitely have Bo associated with Hyman Larner in the 50s, and Hyman Larner as the controlling operative with the Bush/Reagan CIA drugs-for-arms deals. If that was Larner’s and the CIA’s coke being trafficked in and through Plumas, as it definitely was just south in Yosemite and Mariposa County, the case has come full-circle.”
“If Bo was (allegedly) connected higher in the ops than previously believed and asserted, then he wasn’t just a loser, drifter down on his luck,” according to dmac in January 2014.
Dmac bases much of his research on newspaper coverage and books about Chicago’s organized crime from the 1950s through at least the 1980s.
According to some in-depth research into VA records in Reno, there’s proof that Smartt was a patient there, but there are no records that Boubede was ever there in any of its many medical departments, dmac said.
“It also has profound implications on the gravity of why Bo was in Keddie, as well as Marty’s and others’ (i.e. local law enforcement’s alleged connections in 1981) involvement in the drug trade,” according to dmac.Boubede left Plumas County April 14, 1981, right after his interview and release by DOJ. Lake drove him to Reno so he could catch a bus to Klamath Falls, Gamberg said.
As these connections are pondered, it makes sense why DOJ sent two organized crime special agents to Keddie instead of special agents from homicide. Smartt probably didn’t mean anything to DOJ, and the family and friend who lost their lives were unimportant to them, but Boubede could have meant something. Gamberg has repeatedly said that the entire case of the Keddie murders was handled badly.
Hagwood recently repeated that it sat for years in the local sheriff’s office without anyone doing anything to move toward solving it.
And as pointed out before, the sheriff received a job with POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) just six weeks after the murders. Both Gamberg and dmac believe that no one can be vetted (background check) for such a position in the DOJ in just six weeks even in 1981.
Smartt also had a record, according to Gamberg. He believes that the two were allegedly involved in con games, including selling fake advertisements and subscriptions to nonexistent magazines.
A notice for bogus solicitations appeared in the five Feather Publishing newspapers April 1, 1981. It stated: “An organization identified as ‘Law Enforcement Report’ has been soliciting donations for advertisements in a ‘CHP Yearbook’ or ‘CHP Journal.’ Both are non-existent publications. In Shasta and Tehama counties, solicitations have been made by telephone and in at least one instance the caller identified himself as a CHP sergeant. The CHP is not soliciting money for these non-existent publications, nor has it lent its name to any organization for the purpose of obtaining donations or advertisements. Citizens receiving calls should notify their nearest California Highway Patrol office.”
Dmac’s research uncovered this notice. Both he and Gamberg believe it’s exactly the kind of scams Boubede would have gotten Smartt involved with.
“This tells us Marty and Bo didn’t meet at the VA, unless Bo was a visitor,” dmac explained about the notice. “This appeared April 1, which means it was happening long before — it takes time (and many attempted scam calls) before it percolates up from several complaints across many counties, and through law enforcement channels and then to the public through newspapers,” he explained.When Smartt and Boubede left Reno together, Boubede was invited to share the Smartts’ two-bedroom cabin.
In one of the interviews between Smartt and law enforcement, he talked about getting Boubede’s medication and making sure he had the correct dosage. Smartt then said that Boubede was “out for the night,” meaning unconscious due to his medications. It’s unknown if Smartt was saying that as part of their alibi, that Boubede would have been sound asleep and couldn’t have been involved in the murders, or if he’s just mentioning it.
Regardless of when they met, dmac believes that Boubede called the shots. Although the murders might not have been Boubede’s idea, there’s nothing to suggest he wasn’t involved, according to Gamberg.
The crime scene, and Keddie, weren’t handled right from the very beginning, Gamberg said.
The scene wasn’t immediately secured. James “Jamie” Seabolt, from neighboring cabin 27, not only helped Rick and Greg Sharp and Justin out the side bedroom window, he admitted that he went up the back stairs and into the cabin to see if anyone else was left alive inside cabin 28. It’s unknown if he deliberately interfered with the crime scene, but he could have tracked through it, potentially contaminating evidence.
And Don Davis, Sue Sharp’s brother, was reportedly at the scene either just before or at about the same time as sheriff’s deputy Hank Klement arrived, according to dmac’s research. Reportedly Sheila Sharp called her uncle right after resort co-owner Jan Albin phoned the sheriff’s office to report the murders.
Under-sheriff Ken Shanks was reportedly second on scene, and then Sgt. Jerry Shaver. Sheriff Thomas arrived at 8:50 a.m., Gamberg said, according to his records.
Investigators Dennis Forcino and Al Brubaker, who were fishing together at Antelope Lake, arrived at the scene as soon as they could manage.
Davis arrived very early at the scene. In a video of him taken some years following the murders, he didn’t say whether he went into the house when he first arrived.
What he did say on that video was that there was confusion about who the victims were inside cabin 28. Initially the sheriff’s office thought the victims were Sue Sharp and two of her children. Later that day, Don said, they brought out the bodies for him to identify. Davis said he recognized his sister and nephew John and someone he didn’t know (Dana).
Davis said that about two hours after he got home he was asked to go to Anderson’s Mortuary in Quincy and help determine if the female victim was his sister or his niece. He said he determined it was his sister.
When Gamberg was asked to confirm Davis’ remarks on the video, he said the bodies were taken directly to the coroner’s office in Sacramento. Gamberg said there is no evidence in his files that they were taken to Quincy first.
What has totally stumped dmac is how quickly DOJ special agents were in a helicopter flying over the scene April 12. Considering the logistics of getting a call at their homes near Sacramento, getting a helicopter and then flying time, he alleges Thomas may have contacted them immediately after he learned of the situation. In other words, he wasted no time in contacting DOJ organized crime agents. Gamberg said Thomas must have made the decision before viewing the crime scene or just shortly after.
But how would the sheriff know the crime deserved the attention of organized crime agents, unless he immediately deduced Boubede was involved? How would Thomas know Boubede, who’d only been in Keddie for 10 days — not the month he told law enforcement and DOJ? Each made it clear they’d never met.
Keddie wasn’t immediately secured, Gamberg said. Although law enforcement took down license plate numbers of vehicles that were present, no one set up a roadblock and searched vehicles for evidence. And that evidence could have included Tina Sharp.Indicating the list of license plate numbers taken down that day, Gamberg said there are certain vehicles known to have been there that day and identified in aerial photographs, that don’t appear on existing logs.
“There’s one road in and out of Keddie,” Gamberg said. And without securing the road, setting up a checkpoint, anyone could have smuggled out anything.
There are at least two differing opinions of what happened that night. They vary slightly.
Gamberg, who was familiar with Keddie in 1981, said that late at night it was “so dark. You could hardly see the hand in front of your face. It was that dark.”
Gamberg believes the perpetrators were already with Sue Smart. The teenage boys arrived unexpectedly, walked right into it and probably tried to help her. It was a rough, brutal fight. But the perpetrators were there for a while. It wasn’t over with quickly. It’s Gamberg’s opinion, based on what he knows, that Sue was the last one alive. She was made to witness what happened to her son and his friend. She probably saw what happened to her daughter earlier.
This is the end of the three-part series for now. As more information comes forward, readers will be informed.
Anyone who has any information on the Keddie murders is asked to call the Keddie murders hotline at 283-6360.