People’s story on Keddie murders hits the newsstands, TV

In the wake of a People magazine story and television piece on the 1981 Keddie murders and the renewed investigation 35 years after the crime, Sheriff Greg Hagwood’s phone has been busy.

“I have had a tremendous amount of support from people across the country,” Hagwood said. “There have been emails, calls; I am surprised at how many people watched the show.”

Hagwood was a 15-year-old Quincy High School student on April 11, 1981, when the bodies of Keddie residents Glenna “Sue” Sharp, 36, John Sharp, 15, and Dana Wingate, 17, were found in cabin No. 28 at the resort near Quincy by 14-year-old Sheila Sharp, Sue’s daughter who had spent the night at a neighbor’s home. All three victims had been bound, stabbed repeatedly with a knife and beaten with a hammer.

Sue Sharp’s other daughter, 12-year-old Tina Sharp, was missing and wasn’t found until three years later — her decomposed remains scattered near Feather Falls in Butte County.

Three young boys — two of Sue Sharp’s sons and a neighborhood friend — were discovered unharmed in the cabin’s small back bedroom, apparently sleeping through the violent scene that played out in the living room.

Though the crime happened 35 years ago, the horrific nature of those unsolved murders has plagued those who lived through them, including Hagwood. Decades later when he became sheriff, he had the opportunity to devote fresh resources to the case.

While Hagwood has received “tremendous support,” not everyone is happy with his efforts.

Some question whether investigating a 35-year-old murder case is the best use of his department’s resources.

“Some people say, ‘Let it go; it’s a waste of time,’” he said. “But for those children who grew up without a mother or their siblings, time doesn’t toll on that pain.”

Hagwood said that if “you put an expiration date” on investigating crimes, then you embark on a “slippery slope.”

He added that there’s a danger in simply picking and choosing which crimes deserve attention.

For the renewed investigation, Hagwood enlisted the help of Mike Gamberg, a retired sheriff’s investigator back in 2013. Gamberg also knew the victims.

The experience

After numerous phone calls and emails, a crew from People spent a few days in Quincy conducting interviews and touring the area.

“People treated us exceptionally well,” Hagwood said of the magazine and associated television show. “They found the balance of creating interest and intrigue.”

He was also pleased with the way the family members were portrayed. “They treated Sheila and her family with dignity and respect,” he said.

Despite receiving many overtures from producers and writers representing a variety of other entities, Hagwood said he doesn’t plan to do any additional shows.

“It’s been good to put the story out there given the circulation and viewership that People magazine brings,” Hagwood said. “They put it out to a wide audience and it might bring back a recollection or conversation, and further the investigation. But we are not going to gratuitously exploit the tragedy.”

Hagwood also wanted it known that no one from his office has “gained any financial compensation” for their participation.

“The Plumas County Sheriff’s Department has not accepted one penny for what we’ve done,” he reiterated. “I made it clear from the outset it would be unethical.”

What’s next

Hagwood said his office would continue with a three-pronged approach to the ongoing Keddie investigation: the technical and scientific aspects, interviews with known individuals who could have some knowledge of the crimes and investigating new leads as they come into his office.