Indiana Offenders



Editors note – Paula Cooper was released from Indiana prisons in June 2013.

Woman Sentenced To Die At 16 Is Now Free

15 year old Paula Cooper was one of several teens who murdered Ruth Pelke. Paula was put originally on Death Row for her crimes, but changes in the law and advocacy for Paula resulted in a reduced sentence for her. Ruth’s grandson Bill Pelke has befriended Paula and has advocated for love and forgiveness for the killers in his grandmother’s name. Bill founded the Journey of Hope . . . .From Violence to Healing. More information on the victim memorial page under Indiana, and at




An Indiana woman who was 15 years old when she and three others were convicted for the brutal murder of a 12-year-old girl, one of the most grisly murders of 1992, has been released from prison, after serving 14 years of a 40-year sentence.Hope A. Rippey, 29, was sentenced to 40 years for felony murder and 20 years for criminal confinement for the murder of Shanda Sharer. Also convicted in the case were three other teenagers, Toni Lawrence, Lori Tackett and Melinda Loveless. Lawrence was released from prison in 2000.

The four teens lured Sharer into their vehicle on Jan. 11, 1992. Loveless, then 16, was jealous of the 12-year-old because she was involved in a lesbian love triangle with another girl, according to court records. Sharer was beaten and sodomized with a tire iron and her legs were cut with a knife. The four teens drove around with Sharer in the trunk of their car and then burned her alive near a rural road about 40 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky in Indiana. Rippey’s sentence was reduced because Indiana allows inmates to earn one day credit for each day served for good behavior. Her sentence was further reduced when she obtained an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree while in prison. Lawrence served only nine years of her sentence. It was Lawrence who reported the crime to authorities and the first to work out a plea bargain.

It was the murder case that rocked southern Indiana more than a decade ago. In 1992, 12-year-old Shanda Sharer was tortured and killed by four teenage girls. In 2008 one of her killers was set free. Almost everything in life fades away with time. The memory of Shanda Sharer’s murder is not one of them. In 1992, 15-year-old Hope Rippey and three other girls admitted to torturing 12-year-old Sharer, then burning her alive.  Rippey was 15 at the time of the murder. She was sentenced to 40 years, with 17-and-a-half years to be served behind bars. But in 2004, a judge cut five years off the sentence for good behavior, allowing her to leave the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis on Friday.

A college student at the time, Miller watched the case unfold in her hometown, never knowing she’d one day become part of it.  “It was horrific,” recalls Cherilyn Miller. “I just remembered I was in shock.”  Now Miller will supervise Rippey as her probation officer. “I just have to approach it with an open mind like anyone else, regardless of the crime,” she says. Shanda’s mother, Jacque Vaught, cannot look at Rippey’s release the same way. “I’m angry,” she says. “I’m very angry. It never should have happened.”

She’s angry about what happened to Shanda, and also angry that Rippey is getting out early. “Just serve your sentence,” she says. “Be respectful of my child and serve your sentence. She’s never been able to do this. She’s tried to get out from day one.”

After her daughter was murdered Vaught served as a victim’s advocate in Floyd County. To her the system that gave her family justice took it away more than a decade later. “She never should have prevailed on this but she did. So she’s gonna be out on Friday.”

Although the town of Madison will never forget Hope Rippey, it appears she plans to forget Madison.

“She just wants to blend in with the world,” Miller says. “She’s actually planning on living in Marion County and not returning here to live.”

Vaught hopes the world won’t forget her daughter. “She was a baby. She was my child. She was 12 years old and that’s how I’ll always be able to remember her.”

Two of the other girls convicted in the case are still serving their prison sentences. Melinda Loveless and Laurie Tackett had the most involvement in the torture and murder of Sharer. The fourth girl, Toni Lawrence, was convicted of lesser charges. She was released in 2000 after serving nine years.


In January of 1992 four teenage girls, Melinda Loveless-16, Laurie Tackett-17, Hope Rippey-15, and Toni Lawrence-15, all from Southern Indiana. Abducted twelve-year-old Shanda Sharer from the safety of her home, in the middle of the night. For ten hours Shanda was beaten, tortured, molested and eventually burned alive, dying from asphyxiation of her own burning flesh. This ten-hour ordeal that Shanda endured covered over fifty miles with Shanda spending most of that time in the trunk of Laurie’s car, half naked in sub-zero temperatures.

I have been involved with this case for over three years and below is a link to my videos of many of the locations where the crimes to Shanda occurred. I also speak with Toni and Hope asking them if they would be interested in appearing on camera about the sociological aspects of this crime, and addressing the subject of teen violence and bullying. They both refused, Toni cordially and Hope by screaming at me and hanging up the phone.

On Friday, May 20, 2011 Dr. Phil interviewed Shanda’s mother Jacque, and her sister Paige in regards to this case. On Monday, May 23rd, the interview continued with one of Shanda’s killers, Hope Rippey, joining the show to appear with Shanda’s mother and sister.

Hope Rippey’s involvement with this crime was extensive, She lured Shanda from the safety of her home to Laurie’s car, drove the car while Melinda Loveless held a butcher knife to Shanda’s throat. Stole Shanda’s Mickey Mouse watch and jewelry, than pranced around in Shanda’s cloths, while she was being beaten by Melinda and Laurie. She assisted in holding Shanda down while Melinda strangled her with a rope, than helped drag Shanda to the trunk of Laurie’s car and tossed her in.

Laurie and Melinda dropped Hope and Toni off at Laurie’s house than proceed to drive around with Shanda in the trunk, stopping periodically to stab and beat her with a Tire Iron. Upon their return they opened the trunk to show Hope their handy work and with Shanda bleeding to death in the trunk while crying for her “Mommy”, Hope said; “You don’t look so hot now do you”, and proceed to spray Windex into Shanda’s open wounds.

After the decision was made to burn Shanda and finally finish her off , the four girls drove to Madison, Indiana to purchase the gas for this deed.  While at the service station, Shanda, barely alive, began kicking and scratching while in the trunk drawing the attention of another patron. Hope than moved Laurie’s car to a more secure location where Shanda’s movements could not be heard.

Hope led Laurie a rural location she new of where Shanda was to be burned, once there she helped remove her from the trunk and poured the gasoline onto Shanda’s beat and broken body…that Laurie than ignited. It was reported by Toni who wanted nothing to do with this crime that as Shanda’s tiny body went up in flames and she struggled to try and get to her feet, the three girls came running back to the car laughing.

Hope Rippey was sentenced to 50 years, cutting a deal to avoid life without parole. Hope was released early in 2006 after serving only 13 years, backed by the religious organizations affiliated with the Indiana Prison System because she had been “Born Again” in prison and deserves another chance. We who have followed this case have questioned the suspicious circumstances of Hope’s release, and have been stalked, harassed, slandered, and threatened because of it.

I have spoken with Hope Rippey again about two years ago and she told me she would NEVER appear on TV or in a video…I now wondered what her motivation was to do this show.

I watched the shows intently to see if Hope Rippey would be sincere and deserving of another chance? Or is she still the manipulative person she was back then, only more street-smart from her time incarcerated?

Dr. Phil, May 20th, The Friday Show:

I have never watched a Dr Phil show but I have heard of him and it was apparent that this show is all about sensationalism, drama, and confrontation, and all for ratings.  They did some really slick editing that could be used to slant this show to whatever point they wished to make. For instance, they would show a close-up of Jacque (Shanda’s mother) crying, than cut to a wide-shot and she would not be crying. They did the same to a taped Hope Rippey interview. In one shot she is just speaking normally than they cut to her crying, than cut back to her speaking normally again with no evidence of her been crying and her makeup is perfect.

What I got from this show is that it was Paige (Shanda’s sister) who wished to confront Hope Rippey that led us to believe that she contacted the show to set this up. Than I read in an interview from a Louisville TV station where Jacque said she was contacted by the Dr Phil show to appear. From the taped interview with Hope it appears that Hope was still in denial as to her involvement and continued to try and lesson it. She said she only thought Shanda would be beaten up even though it is documented that she knew Laurie wanted her to travel to New Albany to help to “Kill a little girl” as much as 48hrs in advance.

Hope’s reasoning for her early release is that prison is not just for punishment, it is about rehabilitation as well and she has been rehabilitated.

I was surprised to see they had a taped interview with Laurie Tackett from prison. This was interesting in the fact that she has never appeared on camera since this crime. She is also in denial, blaming her actions on peer-pressure. I was glad to see Dr Phil debunk that excuse and call it what it is…an excuse. She also said she did not know that anything more than Shanda being beaten up was going to happen that night, and things spiraled out of control. This is simply not true as she told Hope days in advance they were going to “Kill a little girl”. She does apologize to Shanda’s mother and says she lives with it everyday.

When Jacque and Paije are shown this interview and asked to respond Paige says, “GOOD!”

Laurie Tackett was the older girl of the four, seventeen at the time of the crime and she was the one who contributed the most to Shanda’s injuries. She egged Melinda on to start beating Shanda, helped her strangle her, stabbed and beat her with the Tire Iron several times when she was in the trunk of the car. She also lit the gasoline that Hope Rippey poured on her out at Lemon Road causing Shanda’s death.

A very violent and troubled young girl raised by a fanatical religious mother, like many raised in this environment she believed that no matter what act she committed she would be forgiven if only she preyed and asked for it. She turned to Witchcraft and Satanism to rebel against her mother and her beliefs. Laurie was institutionalized a mire six months prior to her attack on Shanda and if she continued to take her meds she may not have committed this crime.

The Show opens with Dr Phil talking to Jacque alone on stage where they recap the crime and the horrendous things inflicted upon her daughter. The details shared are only a fraction of what was actually done during Shanda’s ten-hour confinement and they are still disturbing. In a following segment Shanda’s sister Paije joins Jacque and Dr Phil where they talk about the early release of two of the girls. Jacque makes an important point by saying that from the beginning of their incarceration most all these girls have tried to have their sentenced reduced or obtain an early release, and if they were truly remorseful they would have served their time. Jacque also says that Laurie Tackett is the only one who has not attempted a ploy for freedom and thinks she may actually feel remorse for her actions.

My opinion is that Laurie felt the hate of the public for her during the court proceedings and is concerned for her own safety as crowds of people were waiting outside the courthouse screaming for her death. They may very well have to pry her from her cage when her time has been served.

Before Hope Rippery’s taped interview is played Dr Phil recaps Hope’s actions to lure Shanda from her home knowing that Melinda has a butcher knife and has been threatening to kill Shanda all night long. This is where the tape is rolled and Hope says she has been rehabilitated, but also states that there is no punishment that could equal what she has done. Dr Phil than gestures to Paige and says, “You want to talk to her” (Hope). Giving his audience the impression that it was Paige that initiating this meeting, but we now know it was Dr Phil’s people who contacted Jacque and Paige.

They than roll more tape of Hope’s interview. Hope says that the plan was to help Melinda beat Shanda up. She admits that at the Witches Castle she was being a bully to Shanda along with Melinda and Laurie. She also elaborates about the logging trail where Shanda was first beaten, stabbed, and strangled but many details of Hope’s actions are left out, not sure if Hope decided not to tell or that part of the conversation was edited out. She than talks about being at Laurie’s house with Toni and talking to Laurie’s dad while Melinda and Laurie were driving around beating Shanda with the Tire Iron. Hope admits she did not tell Laurie’s father and begins to cry while saying she did not know what to do. In the next shot Hope is no longer crying and explaining events when Laurie and Melinda returned that morning. She says she seen Shanda in the trunk and she was covered in blood and adds that they pretty much thought that Shanda was dead. This is a conscious falsehood as Shanda DID sit-up in the trunk at this time and Laurie slammed the trunk down on Shanda’s head when her mother called Laurie from the back door. Nothing is said about the Windex being sprayed on Shanda by Hope and we know this happened since Melinda, her IQ equal to a jar of Vaseline, describes the chemical reaction of ammonia in contact with blood in detail at the sentencing hearing. During an earlier written interview with author Jennifer Furio, Hope said she sprayed the Windex into the trunk of the car and not on Shanda, and by the time she spoke to me she said the incident did not happen at all. I was glad to see Jacque point out this detail on the show that Hope has been denying.

When Hope talks about burning Shanda by Lemon Road she states, “We were stupid, we thought nothing would be left of her”. A true fact that she does acknowledge is that she was hesitant to pour the gas on Shanda at first until Laurie yelled at her. She continues with saying she never could have imagined that a night of fun and games would turn out to be this horrific event, and adds, I don’t know what I could have done to change things. Let me add that Hope was the wheel man driving the car from the Witches Castle where Shanda was first threatened, for the fifty mile ride to the logging trail where Shanda was first attacked, with Melinda and Laurie in the backseat holding Shanda at knifepoint. What did she think was going to happen? Did she think Shanda would be beaten up and than driven fifty miles back home? Hope knew at that moment in time that Shanda would NOT be making a return journey back home. The tape ends with hope admitting she is very much responsible for Shanda’s death, and also adds she could have stopped it at any time…This statement is confusing since Hope has said she could not stop it earlier.

The emotions felt by Jacque and Paige in this interview are real, and heartbreaking! I feel that Paige is another silent victim, one we have never heard anything about or her emotions after this crime. She did say she hid herself away and was silent, dealing with this loss quietly. It is very sad to hear her talk about her little sister Shanda and all the things she missed about her, and the things she would miss in the future. Shanda was more that a sister to her…she was her friend.

As the show ends this Dr Phil creates this dramatic atmosphere saying, Hope is here and are you sure you want to do this…. Than they walk off the set to supposedly talk in private, with all the mic’s open and the cameras circling them. He gives them some advice and they sit back down. The camera shows Hope Rippey’s feet approaching and the next shot is of the back of her head as she sits down. Than…see you next week!

As the credits roll over a back room conversation with Jacque, Paije, and Dr Phil…Jacque gives some important advice about how parents must insist on knowing more about what is going on in their children’s lives and saying if something seems amiss you have every right to look through their things.

Dramatics aside, this was a very good show, addressing a subject I had tried to cover over three years ago. I was very much glad to see Dr Phil plug the Shanda Sharer Scholarship fund, a fund my friend Sue help to start with Jacque and it had been struggling.

I did visit the message boards and many expressed anger at the Judiciary for letting these girls out early and wanting to know who was responsible. Something that is still expressed by people commenting on my videos at youtube. I did post that Toni Lawrence did serve all her time and in Indiana 20=10 with good behavior, and she earned credits for continuing her education. Also stating that she was the states star witness and did not inflict any violence to Shanda as to why her sentence was so short. Something the TV show did not cover. And for those who wished to know more I explained how Jacque was still mad at the prosecutor who did not fight to keep Hope in prison, and the suspicious circumstances involved with the funding of her attorney.

Dr Phil, May 23rd, The Monday Show

There is the usual recap of the crime and what happened on Fridays show, than Hope Rippey dramatically enters the set and sits down, joining the group of Dr Phil, Jacque, and Paige.

Hope is visibly shaken and her voice is unsteady as she begins to speak. At this point it is apparent that it has taken courage for her to face Shanda’s family on national TV.

She begins by saying; “I felt it was important that if you (Jacque) had contacted the show and you thought it be important to bring closure and if anything I could do to help you with that, than I thought it be important I be here for that.”

The camera cuts to Jacque’s cold stare. Hope than starts to explain why she did not apologize in court to Jacque but can’t finish her thought, we know where she is going with this, she wants to say she knows it would not have made a difference or eased her pain. She babbles on trying to convey her thought but can’t find the right words. Dr. Phil breaks in and asks, “What do you mean by, what they needed? Are you doing them a favor?” Hope’s response is, “NO, no…I didn’t mean it like that”…and starts to lose it. The following banter between Paige and Hope cannot be put into words by me, or express the facial reactions, Paige is truly angered.

Than Jacque asked a most important question, “Hope, what do you think you could do to make this up to us?”

Hope: “I don’t think there is anything I could do to make this up to you”

Jacque: “There was! You could have stayed in prison and served out your sentence” Jacque becomes very emotional and says how Hope tried over, and over to be released “And it has always been about you to Hope!” than follows with, “So don’t say you are sorry”…Hope is silent.

Paige begins with many thoughts and words about how Shanda cannot be here to have this interview, and it is clear that Paige would rather jump from her seat and tear into Hope Rippey…a battle Paige would easily win as Hope is a small thin fragile women now, no comparison to the bully teen 3 yrs older that Shanda at the time of the crime. And a good lesson to teen bullies as the ones I remember turned out to be small weak men when older.

Jacque than emotionally address Hope again and asks her WHY? “You didn’t even know her…why?”

Hope’s emotionlessly responds: “I don’t have an answer to that”

Dr. Phil steps in and says: “I think what you owe them is some honesty and some candor…now C’mon.” And he than lays into her with her actions that night.

Hope: “I didn’t know what to do, I know it sounds pathetic but I don’t know how to answer that.” Dr Phil than points out how she was alone with Toni at the Tackett house with no one to intimidate her and she still did not try to get help for Shanda.

Of course not…it is apparent from the beginning that Hope wanted Shanda dead too…but why?

Hope does say: “I understand that from the moment this began I could have stopped it”

Dr Phil: “Than why did you not?”

Hope: “I don’t have an answer to that”…”I was a weak person”

Two years ago Hope told me the same thing when I asked why she did what she did, and “I don’t know” was her response back then and has not changed to this day.

Dr Phil than asks a very good question: “Did you feel power over her…the four of you?”

Hope: “No”

Dr Phil: “What did you get out of it”

Hope: “Nothing, I was going along with it, I know that sounds like an empty response but it’s the truth”

Dr Phil: “You took her watch” Hope nods yes

Dr Phil: “When she was pleading and begging for her life, did you look her in the eyes? How did you feel?”

Hope nods no when asked about looking in her eyes and says: “I didn’t feel anything”

This is an important answer as Hope is admitting she felt no empathy, nothing for Shanda’s pain and leads one to believe she may be a psychopath.

She becomes aware of what she had just said after Paige comments, “Exactly”

Now Hope starts to backpedal and says, “I was afraid”…I was afraid of the people I was with”

Paige: “You were one of them!” Hope nods in agreement.

Paige is tough with Hope when Hope tries to say she didn’t know what was going to happen that night, Jacque jumps in and says: “You knew before hand that the plan was to kill a little girl” Hope is babbling nonsense…she has been caught in a lie.

Hope tries to recover and says: “No one took it seriously” Jacque nods as if to say, Yea right!

Hope begins to lose it and says, “I’m sorry if you don’t believe me but I’m trying to tell the truth.”

She than says: “I’ll take any punishment you wish to say to me, and anything…that’s fine” as she starts to cry. Jacque coolly nods, as it is apparent Hope is digging herself into a hole.

Jacque: “So when Melinda showed you the knife you didn’t believe it?”

Hope: “No”

Paije: “So when you went to the witches castle you still didn’t believe it?”

Hope: “No, I didn’t”

Paije: “So…you just do that on a regular basis, you just take people out and make them take their cloths off?”

Hope: “no”

Dr Phil steps in just when Jacque and Paige had her on the ropes and offers Hope a way out by asking: “Did this go further than you thought it was going to go?”

Hope: “yea, it went way further”

Dr Phil: “what did you think was going to happen?”

Hope: “I thought that she was probably going to be beat up and I know that that is horrible but that is the extent of what I thought was going to happen”.  There is a cut shot to Jacque’s scowl look to Hope as she knows as we do, that is total bull. Again, why did she drive Laurie’s car the 50 miles to another more secure location with Shanda at knife point?

Hope: “And by the time it went that far it felt so out of control, I didn’t know that…I didn’t feel that there was anything I could do…”

Paije: “you say it got out of control but you participated until the very end”

Hope: “you’re right”

Paije: “You poured gasoline on her little head why she was begging for my mom, you didn’t stop until the very end!”

Hope nods in agreement and has no logical response.

Dr Phil: “Did you know she was going to die than…when you were pouring the gas?”

Hope nods yes: “yea I knew than”

Jacque: “Why didn’t you tell Mr. and Mrs. Tackett what was going on?”

Hope looking skyward: “I don’t know, I dealt with this for years, I tried to figure this out, I’ve done everything I can in my power to figure this out in my own head…I know what I did was horrible”

Paije: “Where do you think you should be today, do you think you should be sitting in that chair?”

Hope: “Yea, I do think I should be sitting in this chair” This is an unbelievable narcissistic answer, she has been reformed and thus, she has been forgiven in her mind is what she is saying.

Jacque than firmly tells Hope about the wish she had for all four of them and to put it shortly she wishes that the memory of Shanda’s body and her cries for help haunt Hope and the rest for them for the rest of their lives. Hope begins to cry and says she will try to do anything to help this from happening again and if there is anything she could do to help she will.

Over two years ago I discussed the same things with Hope and was surprised at how hard it is to speak to a group of youths about teen violence and bullying. And considering Hope’s past, it must be even harder for her, how many Jr. High School administrators would trust her with their flock?

There is some interesting banter between Dr Phil and Hope as Hope continues to say she did not think it would go as far as it did. Than He asks her about her smiling mug shot. Hope explains it the same way she told me two years ago, the cops made some funny comments that she thought were to cheer her up. What she doesn’t know is that the police thought she was a jerk and made her laugh than snapped her picture so for the rest of her live, other cops would know what they thought of her.

Paige lays into Hope when she says she was upset as to why the cops tried to make her laugh.

Paige: “Why were you upset?”

Hope: “Because of everything that happened”

Paige: “Were you crying when you poured the gas on her?”

Hope: “no, I was crying when we left”

Paige: “What made you cry?”

Hope: “Because of what had happened”

Paige: “You weren’t sad like your not sad today…you just have to deal with it…you will always be a murderer.” Hope nods in agreement.

Dr Phil asks her if she feels she has been rehabilitated, Hope gives a long answer that means yes. I don’t know much about this Dr Phil but one can tell he is not buying the “I don’t know why” excuse.

Jacque: “What happened in you life Hope that would make you capable of this kind of a crime?”

Hope: “I don’t know that anything happened in my life that made me, I mean, I don’t have that kind of excuse like that. I didn’t have a horrible childhood and abused.” Hope starts to cry: “I was just a weak…kid, I just was…”

Hope told me she was picked on at school, the kids made fun of the cloths she wore and where she lived. There may be some truth to this as she was from a poor family, but I have read posts from her schoolmates that said she was the bully on the school bus before Shanda’s attack. People from her community say they could believe that Laurie Tackett was involved, and could not believe that Toni Lawrence was involved. But there is no opinion about Hope either way.

Jacque does say: “Someone that would kidnap a little girl help to beat and torture her and than pour gasoline on her head…I would not call that weak.”

The cut shot to Hope shows her not crying and perfect makeup…than, Dr Phil asks her if she would ever do this again. Hope replies, “NO”, and her makeup is all messed up and she is crying.

Hope continues by saying, “I know I would stand up for somebody, and I know I would make a different decision”…And I know differently from the years that followed after me and others cut off our communications with Hope Anna Rippey for her deceitfulness.

In the above I have given a recap that is not exact but very close, one can never put into words the emotions that dripped from that TV sound stage that day. The responsive facial expressions are worth a thousand words. To anyone that has followed this crime, or cares about teen violence and bullying, this is a must see. This is a most important show for the bullies themselves as they can see their future in Hope’s eyes.

When Hope posted these words in the forum we were regularly visiting: “Everybody hates me everywhere I go”, the normal compassion emotions most us humans have kicked in to some extent for her, even with her notorious past. Than again, where was her compassion for Shanda some twenty years ago.

The Show continues with the announcement that Amanda Heavron will be on the show, Amanda is the girl Melinda was jealous over and the reason she killed Shanda. I’m surprised with this information but not surprised that she is there. Amanda has appeared on every TV show or interview that has covered this crime. She thrives on the attention and always portrays herself as another victim.

Before the interview Jacque express her disdain for Amanda, “She is a sexual predator, she molested my daughter”, and she is right if one is aware of the facts of how the two became friends.

Amanda bullied Shanda into a relationship with her, in their first meeting she started a physical fight with her at school because Shanda was “The new cute girl at Hazelwood”. She bragged to Melinda about how she attacked the new girl, she was a classic bully. Amanda was 14yrs and Shanda was 12yrs.

If Amanda thought this interview would go as others have where she draws sympathy, she was sadly mistaken. Dr Phil pulls no punches and I was glad to see him confront her about the slanderous things she had been saying about this family for years, most on the Internet.

Amanda claims Shanda made the first move with her, but to those that know the particulars of Amanda and her personality, before, during and after this crime, they would know this to be untrue…Amanda has always been the aggressive one and when older searched out younger girls/women. Any profiler would agree with Jacque as this has been her pattern from a young teen with Shanda, until present day.

When Dr Phil asks her why she did not report the threats to Shanda that Melinda made to her, she says she did. Supposedly Amanda did turn over letters to the police but the police did not take them seriously…Not sure if this is true but it was reported to be true in one of the books about this crime. What Amanda DID do with Melinda’s threats that was not covered in this show was to draw Shanda back to her by saying she would protect her from Melinda, after Shanda’s mother put her in another school and got her away from the Hazelwood crowd and Amanda. Amanda was also using Shanda to make Melinda jealous, being seen with Melinda one day and Shanda the next…and apparently it worked as this blew Melinda’s mind. Melinda was 16yers and still in Jr. High School at the time of this crime…she is missing a few bolts upstairs and not someone to be playing such games with.

During the interview Amanda is smug, self centered, cold and I was impressed with the way Dr Phil exposed her for what she is… I’m beginning to like this guy, he pulls no punches.

Amanda does mention that this crime caused Steve Sharer’s demise as well but the show does not go into detail on this. I did and one can see it here:

The show begins to wind down with Jacque and Paige sitting in a back room with Dr Phil giving them advice. He is trying to help them to move on and not let this thing rule their lives. What I think is a very important point and the show made a big mistake by not pointing this out is the fact that it is these girls that have ruled this family’s life with their constant attempts at freedom. From 1994 until 2008 everyone of these girls except Laurie Tackett have reopened these wounds by dragging this family back to court with their constant attempts at sentence reductions and freedom…How can they move on?

Jacque and Steve Sharer gave these girls a break almost 20 years ago when they agreed with the plea deal. In case you don’t know, Melinda and Laurie were up for the death penalty, Hope and Toni were facing life without parole. The girls’ lawyers told them that because of the horrible nature of this crime and the evidence against you, a jury WILL convict you. And your age will not matter, as they will be afraid that if you committed a crime of this magnitude at such a young age, what will you be capable of when you are older?? …TAKE THE DEAL !

As the show closes and the credits roll Dr. Phil and Hope are sitting together on the set and he is giving her advice. Dr. Phil tells her that for the rest of her life she has to “Do good things”, over and above the average. Hope promises that she will.

I also told Hope two years ago exactly what Dr Phil told her on the show, “The rest of your life you have to do good things above your own self interests, like speak to teens about such violence.” As of yet she has ignored my advice and probably will his until she can deal with the reason WHY.  “I don’t know why”, has always been her answer, it is what she told me when I asked about her involvement two years ago.

If one researches this case as I have, Books, newspaper articles, Internet…etc. Jacque is correct, Hope has always had #1 in mind, “Hope Rippey”. She also likes to talk to psychologists as they show sympathy to her. I read a letter she wrote to a popular Indianapolis Psychologist and the reply. I don’t think she got the sympathy she was hoping for with Dr Phil, It was apparent he was not buying her “I don’t know why” answer, and most likely did not believe her story that she only thought Shanda would be beaten up.

Is Hope truly sorry? Of coarse she is, but one must ask is she truly sorry for what she did, or that she was caught and the whole world now knows. I don’t feel her appearance explained this. Why? Was Hope Rippey willing to go over and above the norm to express her loyalty to her older friend Laurie Tackett, a girl she highly admired at the time? …without a doubt, but this is not enough reason to kill. (There is never a good reason to kill.)

Was Hope Rippey willing to show-off to impress Melinda Loveless, a new personality in her presents that she was infatuated with? …a contributing factor but not enough reason to kill. Was the group mentality the reason they pushed the violence to the point they did, as no one of these individuals would have committed this crime on their own? …yes, but this does not explain any one individuals reason to go along with the group to the extent of murder.

There is only one feeling that would cause Hope Rippey to participate in this astoundingly cruel act and that was personal HATE. From the moment Hope first set eyes on Shanda she hated her, and hated her with out knowing her. What created this hate is something so imbedded in her persona at the time that she refuses to this day to acknowledge it, because it is a dark emotion that was a part of what she is, or was at the time. There is only one emotion that would cause any one individual to immediately hate another and that is jealously. From the moment Hope first set eyes on Shanda she became jealous of her, Shanda was everything she was not. Than she let this powerful emotion develop in to hate, a hate that ruled her actions that night and said, “It’s alright if my friends kill you.”

Millions of teens feel this jealous emotion everyday and with some, it continues throughout their lives, and sometimes it develops into hate. Melinda let this happen, and there is evidence that Laurie was experience this jealous emotion as well.

If Hope Rippey wishes to fulfill Dr. Phil’s request, and what she asked Jacque’s approval of…to help to stop this from ever happening again, she needs to confront the subject of jealously. Hope Rippey could be an effective, positive influence upon young people who are experiencing this jealous emotion that can only bring them negative thoughts…and with a few simple words, “Look what it has done to me, do not let this rule your thoughts and actions”

If Hope Rippey expects to live free in a society that is appalled by her actions of the past, than she owes that society some answers as to why this occurred and why she participated…and “I don’t know why” is not going to cut it!Respectfully,



Indiana teen sentenced to life without parole for killing younger brother
October 15, 2010
UPDATE: Indiana Supreme Court in August 2012 AFFIRMS the life sentence for this offender even after the US Supreme Court ruled that life sentences for teens can only be optional, never mandatory.
A judge sentenced teen killer Andrew Conley to spend the rest of his life in prison without parole for strangling his 10-year-old brother. Judge James Humphrey of Ohio County Circuit Court dismissed nearly every mitigating factor defense attorneys used to try to temper the sentence so Conley could one day get out of prison. Humphrey, reading from a prepared statement for about 20 minutes, said Conley knew what he was doing when his killed his little brother in November. He said Conley gave numerous inconsistent statements to police and mental health experts after he was arrest and – most damaging – he lacked remorse for the killing.

Conley sat without moving – as he did through out most of the five days of his sentencing hearing – at the defense table when the decision was read. He sat with his hands folded in his lap and his head down.

“He’s been incarcerated for almost a year, said defense lawyer Gary Sorge of Conley’s courtroom demeanor. “He knew under the best circumstances he would be locked up for years and years.  “He is very downcast, teary eyed,” Sorge said. “He is trying to keep a stiff upper lip.”

Humphrey said the one aggravating circumstances of the victim’s age far outweighed any mitigating circumstances that might have reduced his sentence. Defense lawyer Gary Sorge said Conley would appeal the sentence within the required 30 days.

Conley admitted last month in court he strangled his brother, Conner, on the night of Nov. 28 while their parents were at work.  Conley then dumped his brother’s body, wrapped in a garbage bag, near a trail in a wooded area behind Conner’s school in Rising Sun. He had stopped at his girlfriend’s house for a few hours – with Conner’s body in the trunk of his car – to give her a friendship ring.

Prosecutor Aaron Negangard said he’s happy with the sentence. “It is just and fair,” said Negangard. “He committed four violent acts on his brother.”  Regardless of the judge’s decision, society is not through in its dealings with Conley, said an Indiana University law professor who specializes in juvenile law and the death penalty. “He is clearly mentally ill, and without treatment he’s going to be as much of a danger in prison as he would be outside,” said Jody Madeira, who teaches at Indiana’s Maurer School of Law in Bloomington. “The prosecution is looking for the maximum sentence, which might not be in society’s best interest.”

Defense and prosecution painted a conflicting portrait of Conley, who pleaded guilty to murder Sept. 13, on what was to have been the first day of his trial. An exhaustive five-day sentencing hearing followed that plea. Prosecutors portrayed Conley as a cold-blooded killer – calculating, aware of how wrong his actions was and capable of killing again. The state is pushing for a life-without-parole sentence, citing case law in Indiana and decisions by the Indiana Supreme Court that the lives of young crime victims must be protected by longer sentences. “The court must find that any mitigating circumstances are outweighed by the aggravating circumstance,” Negangard said, attempting to counter the defense’s request Conley receive a minimum 45-year sentence which could eventually allow parole for good behavior and time served. “Given the defendant’s diminutive size, it was unlikely for him to fulfill his homicidal fantasies on anyone other than his 10-year-old brother.”

Negangard, of Dearborn-Ohio counties, also noted Conley was within six months of his 18th birthday, which would have made him eligible for the death penalty. Defense lawyers Gary Sorge and John Watson, cited other Indiana court decisions, detailed four mitigating factors to bolster their claim Conley deserves the lightest sentence possible. They pointed to his age, 17, at the time of crime; his lack of any significant criminal history; remorse; and “other circumstances appropriate for consideration” – including his cooperation with police and the waiving of his right to remain silent. They said in court that a stepfather raped Conley at age 7 or 8. The same man physically abused Conley’s mother and walked around the house in front of Conley with a gun in his mouth, threatening to kill himself if Conley’s mother, Bridget, left him, lawyers said. “Based on all of the mitigators presented, Mr. Conley should be sentenced to 45 years in prison, the statutory minimum for murder,” Sorge and Watson said. “Mr. Conley’s age is a significant mitigator under the life-without-parole analysis.”

On the night of Nov. 28, with their parents working overnight shifts at area riverboat casinos, the brothers wrestled. Conley put his brother in a forearm choke hold from behind, causing him to lose consciousness. He dragged his brother into the kitchen – where Conner’s blood would clean easier from the tile floor than from carpet – knelt over him and strangled him for a good 20 minutes, he told investigators. He then placed a white plastic shopping back over Conner’s head and fastened it with black electrician’s tape. He then dragged his brother feet first down a flight of steps. Before hoisting his brother’s lifeless body into the trunk of his 1995 Honda Accord, Conley retrieved a black garbage bag and put it over Conner.  Conley told police he was a fan of the television drama “Dexter,” about a forensic lab worker turned serial killer who hunts criminals who slip through the legal system.  Conley also told police he had fantasized about killing someone since he was in eighth grade.


Greg Ousley Is Sorry for Killing His Parents. Is That Enough?

Ethan Levitas for The New York Times

Greg Ousley, who is serving a 60-year sentence for murdering his parents at age 14.

It was a normal day at his junior high school, but when Greg came home, he fought with his parents and defiantly locked himself in his bedroom. Greg’s father, Jobie, knocked on the door for a minute or two, and when that had no effect, he returned to the couch to watch television.

In the prison where Greg told me this story, he gave a quick chuckle. “Well, there’s no way my mom was gonna let that stand,” he said, “so after she had a try and I still wouldn’t come out, she got a hairpin and just picked the lock.”

Bonnie Ousley found Greg lying on his stomach, refusing to speak or even look at her. She sat on the edge of the bed and began stroking his back. In the telling, Greg slid into present tense, pantomiming his mother’s caress. “And she keeps saying: ‘What’s wrong, honey? What’s going on with you? Talk to me. Just talk to me.’ ”

The 14-year-old boy told his mother that he was scared, that all he ever thought about was murder and suicide.

“And as soon as I say that, she takes her hand off my back.” Greg, who is now 33, yanked his hand into the air, as if scalded. “She jumps up — ‘You’re just watching too many movies’ — and walks out the room.”

His face crumpled. Over the many hours I had spent with him, he rarely showed emotion, and the abruptness with which this came on seemed to startle and embarrass him. He took a minute to compose himself, then said: “I remember lying there thinking: Man, this is just never going to change. Mom and Dad, they are never, ever gonna listen to me. I’ve got no choice, I’ve got to go through with it.”

“Go through with it?” I asked.

Greg gave a slow shrug of his shoulders. “Kill them.”

Four nights later, at about 11:30, Greg went into his parents’ bedroom with a 12-gauge shotgun and shot his father once in the head. Moments later, as his mother rushed for the telephone in the dining room, he killed her with two more shots. Greg then drove the family pickup truck to his best friend’s house three miles away. He told his friend what he had done and swore him to secrecy. Then he drove back to his home around 4 a.m., parked the pickup in the garage, placed the gun in the kitchen doorway and ran to a neighbor’s house to raise the alarm.

The story Greg told the police — that he returned home from a late-night joy ride to find the shotgun on the floor and his mother lying dead just beyond — had holes in it from the outset, and those holes became gaping once his friend revealed what he knew to investigators. By midafternoon the next day, Greg finally broke down at the Kosciusko County sheriff’s office in Warsaw, Ind., and provided a full confession.

“I had been thinking about killing them every time I get mad,” he told his interrogator. “They don’t seem to understand me.” Indicative of either his youth or his mental state at that moment, Greg made a forlorn request of the detective: “Please don’t tell my family.”

Despite Greg’s age, his case was swiftly waived into the adult justice system. Facing the possibility of life in prison, he accepted a plea agreement of guilty but mentally ill. In early 1994, Greg, then 15, entered the Indiana penitentiary system to begin serving a 60-year sentence. He was one of the youngest adult inmates in the state’s history.