Filed under: Joseph Duncan

Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders Movie

First things first: HAPPY 4th OF JULY, Y’ALL!

Okay, now that’s out of the way.

This blog receives a ton of hits from people searching for information about the Keddie Murders. Lately that’s been because there was a claim that the movie The Strangers was partly inspired by the massacre in Cabin 28, but I think that was a load of bullshit cooked up by some viral marketing idiot.

You can click this link to read the blog entries I’ve written about Keddie, but my stronger recommendation is for you to visit and watch Josh Hancock’s documentary about this chilling unsolved crime. He’s posted it in 6 parts on this page.

I’ve embedded part 1 above to encourage reader interest, because part 1 hooked me right away, and I know a good deal of the story. This post will be short for now because I’m going back to watch the rest of it.

I’m already wondering why Hancock’s documentary hasn’t seen wider distribution — part 1 was professionally-rendered and compelling. The documentarian’s art is in letting the subject speak for itself. It’s clear to me just 7 minutes in that Josh Hancock knows how to do that.

I will update this post after I finish watching Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders.


Josh Hancock’s documentary is stripped-down, straightforward, and it hits home. Make no mistake — if your interest in true crime documentaries or anything else true crime-related is more towards the macabre, gory end of the spectrum, you will be disappointed by Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders. Actually, if you’re that sort of true crime fan (you should see some of the disgusting search strings that somehow bring people here), you can just get the hell off my blog right now.

I digress.

Anyone who appreciates a respectful, measured approach to telling such a terrifying story, a human approach, will be impressed by this documentary. I certainly was.

I truly hope more attention comes to Mr. Hancock’s work, as he managed to use minimal resources to create a full, living portrait of the people and the place impacted by this unsolved family murder. Bare-bones as it is, Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders still manages to leave the kind of lasting impression true-crime centric shows with massive budgets (48 Hours, Dateline) strive to make. Those shows go for broke with sonorous voice-overs, graphics and editing. Hancock’s cleverness is in his minimalist approach: simple, understated music and well-framed shots of key people in natural light. Sometimes, that’s all you need. The story then tells itself.

If the Keddie case is one of those unsolved mysteries that plagues you, this account will leave you truly unsettled, haunted, and perhaps a bit sad. Peaceful pine forests and remote, quiet mountain retreats will never look the same again.

One more plug for the site:

See also:

UPDATE: Josh Hancock notes in the comments left on this entry that there’s a new website for this film:

Take a look, and watch the movie. Great work on the site(s) and the film, Josh.

Unsolved: The Keddie Murders

NOTE: In the coming weeks I will be re-visiting some crime stories I’ve covered on this and other blogs in the past. I will sometimes re-post old entries from old sites with updates, and will write new posts as well. This post is, in a loose way, part of that effort. When I first referenced the horrific Keddie Murders some 3 years ago, it was really just in passing; the murders of the Groene family in May, 2005 by serial killer Joseph Edward Duncan III (see the best resource on the Web relevant to Duncan and his crimes here) resembled the Keddie Murders in many respects. There was ultimately a huge difference between the two crimes — Duncan was arrested and admitted to what he did. The Keddie Murders remain unsolved.

I decided to write a post about that horrific night in Cabin 28 because this blog has recently seen a spate of search referrals about the Keddie case. I imagine this is due to the fact that a movie titled The Strangers premieres on May 30. It stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman and according to Wikipedia, may be based in part on the Keddie Murders. I doubt the movie was actually inspired by any one crime. The ‘inspired by real events’ tag is usually more of a marketing gimmick than anything else. Still — any new attention to this unsolved case is a good thing. You’re about to see why.


Cabin 28 is gone now. It’s probably better that way.

According to Wikipedia, the cabin was razed in 2006. Another source indicates the cabin was destroyed in 2004. Either way, it was torn down to keep away the weirdos, the ghost hunters, and the teens testing each others’ bravery.

Cabin 28 in the Keddie Resort in Plumas County, CA was destroyed to try and make way for some new memories. Anything, perhaps, to finally put the old horrors to rest.


Built in 1910, the idyllic Keddie Resort offered a lodge surrounded by 33 cabins. There were hiking trails winding through the pines and great trout-fishing in the mountain streams. Customers came from miles away to dine in the restaurant at the lodge.

In the late 60s, you could buy a “Feather River Canyon Holiday [and] Keddie All-Expense Week-End (sic)” for $32 per person. The junket included “a buffet dinner and overnight accomodations at Keddie Resort.”

Crime was almost unknown. Sure, in 1955 Richard Moffett and Earl Jones had an auto accident near Keddie, and the wreckage revealed that the men had stolen kitchenware from the Resort restaurant. But their injuries from the accident were probably as good a punishment as any.

Then one night in April, 1981, 15-year-old John Sharp and 17-year-old Dana Wingate hitchhiked to Keddie and Cabin 28 from nearby Quincy. John and his mom Glenna had been living in the cabin for months.

Police believe that the horrors that took place on the night of April 11 began right around the time John and Dana entered the cabin.

No one seems to know for sure if the killers entered with the boys or if they were already there. Either way, the next 10 hours or so were an orgy of violence and bloodshed.

The killers bound Glenna Sharp, John, and Dana with wire and duct tape. Tina Sharp, age 13, entered after the horrors began. She too was restrained.

The killers used knives. They used a hammer. Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2001, Plumas County Sheriff’s Patrol Commander Rod DeCrona said that the victims were stabbed “so violently they bent one knife totally double from the force.” DeCrona continued, “They stabbed and pounded on everything in sight — the walls, the people, the furniture. Everything.”

DeCrona said that there was “blood sprayed absolutely everywhere.”

Sheila Sharp had stayed with a friend that night in a nearby cabin. She came home the next morning to discover that her home had been turned into an abbatoir. She was only 14.

But nothing in the Keddie case has ever been straightforward.

For example, Tina Sharp wasn’t among the dead. She was missing.

And Tina’s younger brothers — Ricky and Greg — were unharmed. They’d slept throughout the night in another room in the cabin, along with another boy who was there for a sleepover.

Neighbors in nearby cabins didn’t hear anything that night.

At least 8 investigators were on the case in the weeks just after the massacre. Speaking to a Sacramento paper in 1984, then-Plumas Sheriff Steve Wright stated that his office had put in at least 4,000 man-hours of investigation.

They couldn’t find a motive. For 3 years, they couldn’t find Tina.

Just over 3 years after the murders, someone was hunting for bottles near Feather Falls, some 50 miles from Keddie, when they discovered bones.

A state lab analyzed the bones, and in June of 1984, authorities made the announcement: they’d found what was left of Tina Sharp.


There have been at least two websites devoted to this nightmarish unsolved crime. One was published in conjunction with a 2005 documentary about the murders, Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders. That site has been offline for a while, and is difficult to access via the Wayback Machine. The other site is

A look at information published by gives a rough sketch of some other events in the case.

Some time after April 14, 1981, police questioned two men in connection with the murders, Martin “Marty” Smartt and John “Bo” Boubede. According to the website, the Plumas County Sheriff’s Dept. searched Smartt’s cabin and a nearby “outbuilding.” A jacket, “believed to belong to Tina [Sharp]” was found beneath the house. There may have been blood on the jacket.

[EDIT: A commenter signing off only as “Smartt” posted the following on May 28: “Please edit your blog to indicate that Marty Smartt was questioned by PCSD, the California State Police, and the FBI and was found to have no involvement with these murders and was subsequently released.“]

Apparently, the investigation never went anywhere after that. John Boubede may have been dead since 1982, and Marty Smartt since 2002.

The same website states that Tina Sharp did not receive any kind of memorial or headstone until 2002.

The owner of took a trip to Cabin 28 in 2001. “Comtesse” made photos and wrote a short narrative. Quote:

So, we drove up Highway 70, through the beautiful Feather River Canyon, up to Keddie Resort. A short drive down Keddie Resort Road and we were in the midst of a large number of cabins, most in disrepair and featuring ‘Condemned’ signs on the front door. We were a bit disappointed – and surprised – to find that cabin #28 is actually located right in the middle of a group of cabins, several of which seemed to be occupied. I was expecting it to be tucked away in some dark, deep secret place where we could snoop in peace, but that was not to be. I also couldn’t help but wonder how such savagery could be inflicted on several people for several hours right in the middle of this inhabited area and nobody outside heard a thing? Pretty strange…

The photos at Asylum Eclectica hold no hint of the aura of menace that must have hung over Cabin 28 in the two-plus decades following the murders there. They simply show a boarded-up, dilapidated structure that looks like nothing more than a shed, really.

Based on some discussions on a message board related to, it appears as though the conflating of the mystery of Cabin 28 with The Strangers has caused some to believe that the two are one and the same, and that the story of the murders of Glenna Sharp, John Sharp, Dana Wingate, and Tina Sharp are all part of some “viral” fiction. They are not. The Keddie Murders were real, and there are newspaper articles about the murders going back to 1981, if you know where to find them. The massacre in Cabin 28 left a stain on that part of Plumas County that has pained residents ever since. While many in Plumas County would surely love for the Keddie Resort to one day be equated with something other than this bloody crime, I can’t imagine they or any surviving Sharp relatives would be anything but furious to think that some folks now believe this tragedy is nothing but a marketing tool.

But you know, the Keddie Murders may remain a mystery. That’s the sad fact about many long-unsolved crimes; they simply stay unsolved. In my own mental encyclopedia of unsolved mysteries, the Keddie Murders are closely related to the Groene murders in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — which were, of course, solved — the murders of the Bennetts in Aurora, CO in 1984, and more recently, the murder of the Short family in Virginia in 2002. The last family murder also involved an abducted child who was only found later, miles away.

The sheer enormity of these tragedies connects them. But I sometimes think they are also connected by virtue of being examples of what happens when humans unleash their most monstrous selves. Because Joseph Edward Duncan III had a blog, we know that he was giving himself over to his psychopathic demons in the weeks before he killed the Groenes, Mark McKenzie, and took away Shasta and Dylan Groene to brutalize them for weeks on end. He was giving up and letting his mask of sanity crack and fall away.

Duncan is in prison, trying to keep the needle out of his arm. The world is now safe from him. The thing that scares people about the other crimes, the ones that haven’t been solved, is the idea that the killers who committed them gave free rein to their demons — and then put the mask on again. Such things can spook you in a spiritual way, really. That’s why I find myself automatically linking such crimes, even when there is absolutely no reason to think the same killer did them all. That particular breed of serial murder is actually pretty rare.

Different hands wield the knives and the hammers. But even in my most secular, agnostic moments, I still wonder if the same sort of inhuman, timeless evil is present behind the eyes of the monsters shedding the blood.

Selected sources:

  • Sacramento Bee;
  • San Francisco Chronicle;
  • Oakland Tribune.

Joseph Edward Duncan Pleading Guilty Again

Joseph Edward Duncan III, still one of the most complex, evil criminals I’ve ever written about, will plead guilty on December 3 in a federal court in Boise, Idaho. Duncan had already pled to state charges related to kidnapping and murder in May, 2005, but it seemed for some time that he might fight the federal case against him.

Duncan will now face a penalty trial in Boise on January 28. A jury will be tasked with deciding whether or not the man who has now basically admitted to kidnapping, child rape and mass-murder should get the death penalty.

Jet Duncan’s weblog is still online: A second blog was posted on his behalf after his arrest: The latter blog was where Duncan wrote [prior to pleading guilty to anything anywhere]:

And a very good friend of mine who happens to be a “serial killer” told me that he committed more sex crimes during the two years he was on parole (including killing three children) than he did in the entire five years he was not on parole. In fact—he tells me that while he was not on parole he committed NO crimes until the police started doing illegal quarterly registration checks at his home (coming to his house to make sure he was complying with the law). He said that was when he started looking for control again—to prove (consciously and subconsciously to himself) that “they” couldn’t control him.

Both weblogs give readers an unprecedented look into the mind of a sexually sadistic psychopath.

Neither contain content that is objectionable on the surface. Reading the original Fifth Nail in particular is remarkable in that after a while, Duncan’s voice seems to lodge in your head… a profoundly unsettling, nausea-inducing experience.

There will always be more to write about a monster like Jet Duncan. Jules Hammer runs an entire blog and Web community dedicated to discussing Duncan, his crimes, and related issues. Check out The Cellar for links to many of the other sites created by Duncan, and for some remarkable insight into the deadly swath this innocuous-looking serial killer cut through the lives of so many innocent families.


Happy Halloween, Rochester, Minnesota

On Halloween Night a convicted killer and sexual psychopath is released from prison. Even though the man killed two people in cold blood 31 years ago, even though he tried to kidnap young girls in the 80s and was convicted of sexually assaulting and almost murdering a teenager in the early ’90s, he is on the streets again.

On Halloween Night in Rochester, Minnesota, what’s a murderous psychopath to do, fresh from 15 years in the pen?

The preceding isn’t the beginning of a pitch for a new horror film. The scenario presented above may become reality in Rochester about two weeks from today.

Daryl Alt is 49 now. His father Jack and step-mom Dorothy were 49 when he murdered them in late February, 1976. Daryl was a skinny, blond 17-year-old boy at the time. Police found the couples’ remains on March 2, just after Daryl reported them missing. Jack and Dorothy Alt had been shot to death.

Alt was tried as an adult for those murders. He worked a plea bargain and got the charge related to his stepmother’s murder dismissed. Alt was convicted, and he served 6 years in prison.

Upon release in 1983, Daryl Alt began his career as a sexual predator. After several attempted abductions of young teen girls, he kidnapped and raped a 14-year-old girl. He went to trial in 1984 for that assault and was convicted.

In 1990, just months after his release from prison for the assault in 1983, Daryl Alt struck again. He kidnapped Jammey Schick, age 15.

Jammey told her story on a message board attached to the site This is a quote from the site’s Mission page: “The Jane Doe No More initiative will create awareness about the crime of sexual assault to ensure proper treatment of the victim.”

From Jammey Schick’s post at

I was 15 years old when a man came up to me and took me and was about to change my life for ever. He took me in his truck and put a knife to my neck and told me i will do what ever he told me or he would cut me in many little pieces. as you can [imagine] i was very scared and listened to this man and begged for my life […] he took me to a corn field were he drove into it far enough so we could not be seen my on coming cars and he brutally raped me, took me further in the corn field were he put a rope around my neck and strangled me till i passed out the kicked me and beat me till he thought i was dead. when i woke sometime later i could not feel any part of my [body]. i did not know if i had any clothing on or if i did.


somehow i did it, i got to the road were i was finally picked up and taken to the hospital. i had to go through lots of tests because i was [paralyzed] and had to learn everything over. At the trial the doctors and… a [coroner testified] that there is no medical reason for me to be alive. that looking at pictures that were taken they all thought they were looking at a dead [body]. but i survived…

Another user wrote a supportive response and asked a question. Jammey answered:

[I] will be notified about everything and anything regarding his release. The only thing they can not tell me is were he sill be living. I have also been thinking of [different] things I will need to do to protect myself and my children as he has made threats towards me while he has been in prison. If he was convicted of the same crime today he would be serving more time but the laws were not as good as they are not 17 years ago.

Neither Jammey Schick nor her family have been happy with the way the justice system handled her case. In 1993 Jammey came forward and allowed her name to be published in Minnesota papers. She was quoted in the Star-Tribune after Alt’s conviction. Jammey said she was happy about the verdict and that she hoped Alt would never be free “so he can do this again.” About the many delays in the trial, she said: “I think they should give victims more rights […] I feel I have been treated very unfairly.”

In the same article, Olmsted County Attorney (at the time) Ray Schmitz talked about the danger Daryl Alt presented to the community: “Mr. Alt is among the most dangerous people that we’ve prosecuted here and he’s simply someone who needs to be removed from the streets…”

Olmsted County (MN) prosecutors began seeking civil commitment for Daryl Alt earlier this year. In July they managed to get him held at a secure hospital in St. Peter, MN until his official release from the Department of Corrections. A civil commitment for Alt after October 31, 2007 would declare him dangerously mentally ill and put him in a secure medical facility, perhaps for the rest of his life.

Since Dru Sjodin was murdered by level III sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. in November, 2003, prosecutors in Minnesota have been averaging more than 60 requests for civil commitments a year. Fewer than 15 such applications were made the year Sjodin was murdered.

Jammey Schick seems to feel that the question of whether or not Alt should be civilly committed should never have been asked. To TV station KSTP, she said, “We were told he was never getting out.”

Minnesota press might naturally compare this case to the high-profile Sjodin murder, but plenty of incredibly vicious criminals started young, showed plenty of recidivism and still hit the streets to rape, to kill again:

Joseph Edward Duncan III — spent 20 years in prison for a violent sexual assault committed when he was 17. Duncan was on supervised release in the mid-90s when he kidnapped, molested and killed at least 3 children. He went back to prison, but only for absconding from parole. Upon completion of his sentence in 2000, Duncan went to college and seemed to be a model citizen. Until he disappeared in May, 2005, killed 4 people and kidnapped two children whom he repeatedly raped before killing one of them. Go check out his blog if you think your psyche can handle it. (NOTE: Many readers of The True Crime Weblog will be familiar with Duncan. Those who are not familiar with this serial killer need not worry about Duncan’s Fifth Nail weblog — it is safe for work and if you only skim, it seems normal. Don’t read it at night, or you’ll feel pretty creeped-out.)

Carl Edward “Charlie” Brandt — at 13, Charlie Brandt killed his pregnant mother as she sat in a warm bath, and he nearly killed his father. The only thing that saved his sister’s life was her telling Charlie she loved him. Charlie did one year in a psychiatric hospital. Some people who observed the boy at the time feared it would happen again. It did, but no one knew what was going on inside Charlie Brandt until he murdered his wife and her niece in 2004. He carefully dismembered the niece, 37-year-old Michelle Jones, before he finally committed suicide by hanging himself in her garage. After this appalling murder-suicide, police began to examine upwards of 30 unsolved murders all over the country with the idea that they may have been committed by Charlie Brandt. His M.O. may have been the careful evisceration of his victims, in particular the removal of the heart. Brandt, to most who thought they knew him, was the classic unassuming guy whom no one could imagine ever doing such horrific things.

Edmund Kemper — big Ed Kemper, a 6’9″, 300-lb serial killer, was declared to no longer be a danger to society by two psychiatrists while a couple of co-ed’s heads sat in the trunk of Ed’s car in the parking lot outside the doctors’ office. Kemper began his career as a killer with a seemingly non-sexual crime — at age 15 he murdered his grandparents. Kemper reportedly said he “just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma and Grandpa.” He spent a few years in a mental hospital before he gulled psychologists into letting him out. Once in his overbearing mother’s care, Big Ed started killing college girls. He’d pick up hitchhikers, disarming them by playing the “gentle giant,” then he’d kill them and rape their corpses. Ed’s murderous rampage ended with his mother and her best friend. He raped his mother’s dead body and put her voice box in the garbage disposal. Kemper was likable and very intelligent. Many of his friends were cops, and when he finally called the police to turn himself in, Kemper actually had to convince authorities that he was telling the truth.

These are not the only killers who followed this broad pattern — early acts of violence followed by incarceration and then even more vicious acts. Arthur Shawcross also came to mind. Shawcross murdered two children in 1972 and spent 14 years in prison for manslaughter. After he was released from lockup, Shawcross began killing prostitutes. Profilers trying to catch Shawcross when he was the unknown Gennessee River Killer underestimated the killer’s age by almost the exact number of years he’d spent in prison. Arthur Shawcross seemingly picked up exactly where he left off in his maturation cycle as a killer.

If Daryl Alt is allowed to walk free on Halloween Night, it seems a stretch to believe he won’t just go right back to doing what he probably likes best — hurting other people.

Alfonso Rodriguez was an old-looking 50 when he kidnapped vibrant, athletic young Dru Sjodin. Daryl Alt is just 49, and he looks like prison has been good to him, in photos.

Rochester, Minnesota better hope along with Jammey Schick for a civil commitment in this case, because there’s plenty of violence left in a man like Daryl Alt. The worst may be yet to come.

Sources not otherwise linked:

* Olmsted County Attorney press release regarding Alt’s Civil Commitment (.pdf);
* Ironwood (MI) Daily Globe, 1970s articles accessed via

More Indictments for Joseph Edward Duncan III

My experience as a blogger who crosses over into the mainstream media from time to time began with the arrest of Joseph Edward Duncan III in July, 2005. Blogging I did in relation to that complex, haunting, and truly scary story eventually brought me the first invitation to appear on a news program, and also the first contacts I ever had from anyone in law enforcement.

In some ways, it’s a story that keeps on giving, when it comes to true crime news.

I’m still moving entries over to this blog, but below is a link to the Wayback Machine’s records of The Dark Side of Planet Huff, my original crime blog, as it appeared in the summer of 2005:

The Dark Side: The Groene Murders.

In August of 2005, a number of bloggers — I was one of the first, but not the first (link goes to the first blogger to spot this) — made note of Duncan’s resemblance to the suspect who abducted Anthony Michael Martinez from the front yard of his home in Beaumont, California on April 4, 1997.

Duncan was absconded from parole at the time, and by his own account he was in California while on the lam. This time on the run in ’97 sent Duncan back to prison to complete the rest of the 20 year sentence for rape that he’d begun serving in 1980.

It turned out that Riverside police were thinking along the same lines as the bloggers. It turned out that Duncan may have even made incriminating statements about Anthony Martinez. And a partial fingerprint found on tape binding Anthony’s body when it was discovered, bludgeoned to death and buried in the desert, matched Duncan’s prints.

There’s major news about Duncan again today, even though he’s already serving life in Idaho for murdering four members of the Groene family: “Joseph Duncan indicted by federal grand jury.” From KNDO/KNDU:

A federal grand jury in Boise, Idaho, this afternoon indicted Joseph Edward Duncan in the kidnapping of two children near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in 2005.
The indictment charges Duncan with kidnapping 9-year-old Dylan Groene (GROH-nee) for the purpose of sexual assault, and for intentionally killing the boy after torturing him.


Federal prosecutors have already said they intend to seek the death penalty for the registered sex offender.

Earlier today, prosecutors in Riverside, California, said they will charge Duncan with the murder of a ten-year-old boy near Indio, California, a decade ago. Prosecutors say they also intend to seek the death penalty…

So the monster may finally get the chair or the needle one day, after all. Maybe Anthony will finally see some justice, after all.

The best link on the Web for information about Joseph Edward Duncan III is Jules Hammer’s, The Cellar. Jules is one of the finest amateur sleuths I’ve ever met, and her weblog (begun by the pseudonymous “Mickey Rat” shortly after Duncan’s arrest and later turned over to Jules) is both a one-stop online shop for information about this particular serial killer and his crimes and the essence of what a crime blog should be. Blogs began as link lists and personal journals, and Jules has managed to stay true to the spirit of blogging and blend the personal with the factual at The Cellar in a seamless and engaging manner.

Also of interest:

  • Blogging the Fifth NailJoseph Edward Duncan III’s own weblog, kept between 2004 and 2005. Duncan’s blog should not be read in one sitting. Though there is nothing overt there as to what kind of animal he truly was, this is a weblog that works its way into your psyche until you think you hear his soft, chilling voice in your head. Read when it’s light outside.
  • — Blog begun by proxy while Duncan was awaiting his first trial — which ultimately didn’t happen because he pled guilty. In one entry in this weblog, Duncan practically admits he is a serial killer.
  • Video made by Duncan while he was a college student titled “Reality.” The video itself is strange, somehow haunting, but safe to view. However, the site I used to upload the video (this was pre-YouTube) has since taken on a lot of adult advertising. So that fact renders the link potentially not work-safe. It was pretty barebones when I first uploaded that video over a year ago.

I’ll continue moving those original entries over to this weblog, and whenever there’s a new development in Duncan’s case I’ll cover it. Maybe one day he’ll grow tired of his game and just reveal once and for all what his “demons” have driven him to do over the years.

(Tip of the old crimeblogger’s fedora to true crime writer M. William Phelps, one-half of the blogging team at, for the heads-up on this story.)