So I wrote earlier that The Strangers was based on the true story of the Keddie Cabin Murders. Well, there are some fallacies that should be cleared up. There were unsolved murders at Keddie Cabin, this much is true. Its also true that the murders are still unsolved.
But thats about where the ‘true story’ angle ends. Truth is stranger, and more disturbing, than ‘based on truth.’ There were four murders in cabin 28 that night. Glenna Sharp, her 15 year old son John and 17 year old family friend Dana Wingate were found beaten and stabbed the next morning by Glenna’s 14 year old daughter Sheila, who luckily spent the night with a friend. Thirteen year old Tina Sharp was missing from the cabin, and her decapitated remains were discovered three years later, buried 95 miles away. Her other two sons and another friend, all toddlers, were spared and found hiding in a separate room.
Nobody knows exactly what happened, or what the motives were, although there’s no shortage of theories. If this movie is based on a true story, then so is Wild Zero.
Here is a summary of the actual events from A&E’s Cold Case Site:
Sometime between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. that day, 15-year-old John Sharp and his buddy, 17-year-old Dana Wingate, were seen hitchhiking from Quincy to Keddie Cabin #28. John had been living there for months with his 36-year-old mother, Glenna Sharp — and once the two boys walked through the door, police say, the horror began.
A pair of killers either went in with the boys or were waiting with Glenna Sharp, and they tied up all three with duct tape and electrical wire. Soon after, John’s 13-year-old sister, Tina, showed up and was bound, too.
What followed was a night of torture.
By the time the killers left 10 hours later, they had used steak knives and a claw hammer to such effect that the victims were barely recognizable.
“Whoever did this stabbed the victims so violently they bent one knife totally double from the force,” said Sheriff’s Patrol Commander Rod DeCrona. “They stabbed and pounded on everything in sight — the walls, the people, the furniture. Everything.”
He shuddered at the memory of first walking into the murder scene. “There was blood sprayed absolutely everywhere,” DeCrona said. “You knew right away we were involved with a psychopath.”
The carnage was only discovered the next morning by John’s 14-year-old sister, Sheila, who had been at a sleepover next door. To the enduring surprise of police, nobody outside the charnel house had heard a thing.
And the mystery only deepened: Not only was the body of Tina, most likely killed at the scene, missing — but three near-toddlers sleeping in one bedroom had been amazingly left untouched.
Tina’s severed head was found three years later by a bottle-digger, 50 miles downhill at a waterfall. One of the children in the bedroom — two were Sharp brothers, the other a play-pal — remembered enough so police could make a sketch of two killers, but the boy was so young the picture’s accuracy is considered questionable.
Thousands of leads and suspects have been picked over since then by deputies, the FBI and state investigators — but nothing panned out, DeCrona said. A timeline of the case dominates three walls of the sheriff’s office, tips still come in, and DNA samples were sent to the state crime lab just two months ago, but nobody’s holding his breath.
“Usually in a crime like this, the killers get sloppy and leave more behind, ” said DeCrona, sighing. “I wish it were that simple. We have no motive, no suspects.”
Dana’s father, Gary Wingate, thinks there were so many police agencies involved that they “stumbled over each other and fouled up the case.” But he tries not to stew about it. He never even calls the Sharp family — who declined requests through intermediaries to be interviewed.
“Nobody has the faintest idea who killed my son, so I long ago had to let this thing go or it would eat me alive,” said Wingate, who lives near Quincy. “I don’t think about it, I don’t go to that ghost town and I have no idea if ghosts exist there.
“But I do know this. There is evil in this world, and evil was in that house that night.”
Ashley Conte and her neighbors think the evil is still there.
People began to shun the resort after the killings, and within a year it was empty. The owners put Keddie up for sale in 1984 for $1.8 million — and nobody bit.
Over the next decade or so, it rotted into a refuge for squatters and hobos, and the county condemned most of the buildings. But in the past few years longtime owner Gary Mollath has gone on a furious restoration campaign that has the old resort looking pretty much as it did in 1981 — sans people.