Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Shanda Sharer was just 12-years-old when she was murdered by being burned alive after she was brutally tortured by four other teen-age girls. The motive? Jealousy. Shanda Sharer was born in 1979 in Pineville, Kentucky. After her mother got divorced a couple of times, the family wound up in New Albany, Indiana. This is where Shanda Sharer would meet the three girls who would eventually kill her. The main antagonist was a girl named Melinda Loveless who had come from an abusive and broken home and this caused her to get in fights at school, become depressed and eventually saw a counselor. Eventually, Melinda “came out of the closet” to her mother, who was initially upset by this revelation but soon learned to accept it. Melinda Loveless soon began dating a girl named Amanda Heavrin.
Amanda Heavrin and Shanda Sharer got into a fight at school one day but became friends while serving detention together for the fight. Melinda Loveless soon became jealous over the two girls’ friendship. When Melinda Loveless saw Shanda Sharer and Amanda Heavrin at a school dance together, she confronted the both of them angrily. Loveless became more and more jealous of the two girls’ relationship even though Loveless was now dating an older girl. When she found Sharer and Heavrin at a festival together in late October, she began to threaten Sharer and publicly stated how she wanted to kill Sharer. Uneasy about her daughter’s relationship with Heavrin, her mother transferred Sharer to a Catholic school in November and by the time December rolled around, Sharer’s friendship with Heavrin became distant.
The other three girls involved in the killing were Laurie Tackett, Hope Rippey, and Toni Lawrence. All three of these girls were into either the occult, self-harming, were victims of familial abuse, and all had sought counseling. At the time, Laurie Tackett was the only one of the three that was friends with Melinda Loveless. Hope Rippey and Toni Lawrence had not yet met Loveless. Not until the fateful night of January 10, 1992. Melinda Loveless was still burning inside after all these months to kill Sharer and tonight would be the night. Tackett drove Rippey and Lawrence from Madison, Indiana to Melinda’s home in New Albany. Indiana. Loveless said she wanted to kill Sharer and produced a knife but then said that she only wanted to scare Sharer instead. They concocted a scheme to lure Shanda Sharer from her house by telling her that Amanad Heavrin was waiting to meet her. Shortly after midnight, Sharer sneaked out of her house and got into the car with the three girls, not knowing that Melinda Loveless was hiding under a blanket in the back seat.
The girls beat up Shanda Sharer and tortured her before burning her alive. The body was found by a couple of men on their way to go hunting and reported it to authorities. After an investigation, Toni Lawrence went to the Clark County Sheriff’s office with her parents on the night of January 11, 1992 and told the police what had happened. All four girls were soon arrested and tried as adults.
Melinda Loveless received a sentence of sixty years in prison with a chance of parole for good behavior as was Laurie Tackett. Toni Lawrence was sentenced to twenty years in prison and was released in 2000. Hope Rippey was sentenced to sixty years in prison with ten years reduced for mitigating circumstances and another ten years of medium supervised probation with time off for good behavior and was released from prison in 2006. Loveless and Tackett are both eligible for parole in 2020.