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Laurie Tackett was one of the four teenage girls that tortured and murdered 12-year old Shanda Sharer on January 11th, 1992, along with Melinda Loveless (the architect of the plan), Hope Rippey, and Toni Lawrence. She participated the second most in the torture-murder, just behind Melinda.

Background

Laurie Tackett was born in Madison, Indiana, on October 5th, 1974. Her mother was a fundamentalist Pentecostal Christian and her father was a factory worker with two felony convictions in the 1960s. Tackett claimed that she was molested at least twice as a child at ages 5 and 12. In May 1989, her mother discovered that Tackett was changing into jeans at school, and, after a confrontation that night, attempted to strangle her. Social workers became involved, and Tackett's parents agreed to unannounced visits to ensure that child abuse was not occurring. Tackett and her mother came into periodic conflict; at one point, her mother went to Hope Rippey's house after learning that Rippey's father had purchased an Ouija board for the girls. She demanded that the board be burnt and that the Rippey house be exorcised.

Tackett became increasingly rebellious after her fifteenth birthday and also became fascinated with the occult. She would often attempt to impress her friends by pretending to be possessed by the spirit of "Deanna the Vampire". Tackett began to engage in self-harm, especially after early 1991 when she began dating a girl who was involved in the practice. Her parents discovered the self-mutilation and checked her into a hospital on March 19th, 1991. She was prescribed an anti-depressant and released. Two days later, with her girlfriend and Toni Lawrence, Tackett cut her wrists deeply and was returned to the hospital. After treatment of her wound, she was admitted to the hospital's psychiatric ward. Tackett was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and confessed that she had experienced hallucinations since she was a young child. She was discharged on April 12th. She dropped out of high school in September 1991.

Tackett stayed in Louisville in October 1991 to live with various friends. There she met Loveless; the two became friends in late November. In December, Tackett moved back to Madison on the promise that her father would buy her a car. She still spent most of her time in Louisville and New Albany, and, by December, spent most of it with Loveless.

The murder of Shanda Sharer

Around midnight on January 11th, 1992, Tackett drove herself and the three other girls to Shanda Sharer's home (they had been there earlier with the promise to bring her to visit her good friend Amanda Heavrin, Melinda's ex-girlfriend who she believed Shanda had "stolen" from her, and told them to return when she could sneak out) and Tackett and Rippey went to retrieve her and informed her that Amanda was waiting for her at a place called the Witch's Castle. Shanda then joined them in the car and they drove off. Loveless, who was hiding under a blanket in the backseat, jumped out and held a knife to Shanda's throat, accusing her of stealing her girlfriend (Amanda.) As they continued onward to the Witch's Castle, Tackett told a local legend that said the house was once owned by nine witches and that townspeople burned down the house to get rid of the witches to further scare Shanda.

When they got to the Witch's Castle, Shanda's hands and feet were bound with rope. Tackett taunted her by saying that the castle was filled with human remains and that hers would soon be joining them. To further frighten her, Tackett went to her car and took out a shirt that had a smiley face design on it. She soaked it in whiskey and lit it on fire, telling Shanda that that's what she would look like by the end of the night. The girls were scared that the fire might attract too much attention, so they left the Witch's Castle and went somewhere else.

Tackett led them to a dark garbage dump off a logging road in a densely forested area. She and Loveless forced Shanda out of the car, forced her to strip naked and took turns beating her. After that, both of them took turns stabbing her in the chest while Hope Rippey held her in place. They then strangled Sharer with a rope until she was unconscious, placed her in the trunk of the car, and told the other two girls that Sharer was dead.

The girls drove to Tackett's nearby home and went inside to drink soda and clean themselves. When they heard Shanda screaming in the trunk, Tackett went out with a paring knife and stabbed her several more times, coming back a few minutes later covered with blood. After she washed, Tackett told the girls' futures with her "runestones". At 2:30 AM, Tackett and Loveless spent sometime driving around the nearby town of Canaan (Rippey and Lawrence stayed at Tackett's house) with Shanda still in the trunk. She continued to make crying and gurgling noises, so Tackett stopped the car. When they opened the trunk, Shanda sat up, covered in blood with her eyes rolled back in her head, but unable to speak. Tackett beat her with a tire iron until she was silent, and then reportedly told Loveless that she could feel Shanda's skull caving in and that it "felt awesome", and forced her to smell the blood on the tire iron.

Loveless and Tackett returned to Tackett's house just before daybreak to clean up again. Rippey asked about Shanda, and Tackett laughingly described the torture. The conversation woke up Tackett's mother, who yelled at her daughter for being out late and bringing home the girls, so Tackett agreed to take them home. She drove to the burn pile, where they opened the trunk to stare at Shanda. Lawrence refused. Rippey sprayed Shanda with Windex and taunted, "You're not looking so hot now, are you?"

Tackett drove the other three to their final destination, a field just off of Lemon Road. When they did, Tackett sodomized Shanda with the tire iron, then she and Hope Rippey took Shanda - who was barely alive - out of the trunk and wrapped her in a blanket, laying her in the middle of the field and pouring a soda bottle filled with gasoline all over her, and then they set her on fire, burning her alive and finally killing her.

Aftermath

Following the investigation into the murder and the subsequent confession from Toni Lawrence, Tackett was arrested on January 12th alongside Loveless. The prosecution immediately declared its intention to try both Loveless and Tackett as adults.

Tackett was sentenced to sixty years in prison at the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis. She was released in 2018, and is serving currently probation. She has expressed remorse for her involvement in the murder of Shanda, and has since kept out of the public eye since her release from prison.

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