Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 24, 2013

W.Va. dad demands Pa. coroner give back daughter

Associated Press

MORGANTOWN — The parents of a 16-year-old West Virginia girl allegedly murdered by her best friends last summer are planning a protest outside the office of the Pennsylvania coroner who they say refuses to return or even let them see their daughter’s body.

Dave Neese said Monday that he and wife, Mary, are frustrated and confused about why Greene County Coroner Gregory Rohanna won’t give them access to daughter Skylar. Rohanna apparently wants to do more tests, Dave Neese said, but it’s been nearly a year since his daughter was killed and six months since authorities recovered her remains.

Rohanna didn’t immediately return a telephone call or email messages to his office in Waynesburg, Pa.

One of Skylar’s friends — 16-year-old Rachel Shoaf — has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the slaying last July in Wayne Township, Pa.

Shoaf admitted planning the murder with another girl who hasn’t been identified because her case remains in juvenile court. Skylar Neese was an honors student at University High School, and her father said the three girls were close.

But Shoaf, police and prosecutors have all refused to offer a motive for the attack, and Dave Neese said he still has more questions than answers.

His lawyer, State Police and prosecutors have all advised Neese not to protest outside Rohanna’s office Monday afternoon, but he said he planned to go anyway.

“This guy is telling me he needs to do further tests. ... He doesn’t have the facilities to do more tests,” Neese said. “He couldn’t even determine the cause of death. Well, all he needs to do is look at the police reports to see the cause of death.”

Police reports aren’t included in Shoaf’s court file, but during her plea hearing last month, she admitted that she and the other suspect drove the victim to a secluded spot in Pennsylvania and stabbed her to death at an agreed-upon moment.

They tried to bury Skylar but hid her body under branches when they couldn’t.

The cold calculation and brutality of the plot shocked a small town already frustrated by the slow pace and secrecy surrounding the case. Investigators have said nothing publicly about the case since announcing the charges against Shoaf on May 1.

Prosecutors say in the court documents they plan to recommend a 20-year prison sentence and will oppose any move to have Shoaf sentenced as a juvenile. But she could get as many as 40 years under the law. 

Shoaf’s family issued a public apology through a lawyer but has made no further statements.