“How’d You Rather Die?”: ’20/20′ Reports on Skylar Neese Homicide April 12 2024

The chilling episode of ABC 20/20 titled “How’d You Rather Die?” airs on April 12, 2024, delving into the harrowing murder of 16-year-old Skylar Neese by her closest friends. This two-hour special, guided by correspondent Ryan Smith, unravels a narrative that struck at the heart of a tight-knit West Virginia community, unveiling the dark capabilities of teenage killers. Featuring exclusive insights and interviews with key figures closely related to the case, the program offers an in-depth exploration of a crime that defied the typical understanding of motive, betrayal, and consequence.

Disappearance and Initial Investigation

On the night of July 5, 2012, after completing her shift at Wendy’s, Skylar Neese returned to her family’s apartment in Star City, West Virginia. Surveillance footage from her apartment complex revealed a pivotal moment at 12:30 a.m. on July 6: Neese sneaking out and entering a sedan, marking the last time she was seen alive. Despite leaving behind her cell phone charger and an open bedroom window—a sign she intended to return—Neese vanished without a trace.

Initially dismissed as a potential runaway by authorities, the disappearance of Skylar Neese did not trigger an immediate law enforcement response. Misleads and the lack of an Amber Alert compounded the urgency of the situation. It wasn’t until the involvement of the FBI and West Virginia State Police that the investigation gained momentum, unraveling the devastating truth behind Neese’s last moments.

The Confession and Unraveling the Truth

The case saw a significant breakthrough six months post-disappearance, with Rachel Shoaf’s confession to plotting and executing the murder alongside Shelia Eddy. The motive, chillingly simple, was rooted in a desire to sever ties with Neese, propelling the investigation forward and leading to the grim discovery of Neese’s body. This confession unveiled not only the calculated brutality of the crime but also the shocking betrayal by those Neese considered her closest allies.

The critical role of surveillance footage and the persistence of the Star City community played a pivotal part in piecing together Skylar’s final hours. Interviews with law enforcement and community members highlighted the integral contribution of technology and collective effort in uncovering the truth, setting a precedent for future investigations in similar cases.

Legal Proceedings and Sentencing

The legal proceedings following the confessions of Shoaf and Eddy were marked by a mix of plea deals and trials that culminated in significant prison sentences for both. Shoaf’s eventual remorse, contrasted with Eddy’s lack of it, underscored the complex psychological landscapes of the perpetrators. Their sentencing not only brought a semblance of justice for Skylar Neese but also emphasized the severity with which the judicial system treats juvenile offenders involved in heinous crimes.

Skylar Neese’s murder precipitated significant legislative change, most notably Skylar’s Law. This amendment to the West Virginia AMBER Alert system underscored the importance of immediate action in missing children cases, irrespective of the presumed circumstances of their disappearance. The law’s unanimous passage reflected a community and legislative body galvanized by tragedy, aiming to prevent future occurrences through proactive measures.

Reflection and Aftermath

The episode “How’d You Rather Die?” serves as a poignant exploration of the depths of human betrayal and the resilience of a community shaken by loss. The murder of Skylar Neese, and the subsequent trial and legislative outcomes, highlight the need for vigilance, empathy, and reform in handling cases of missing youth. Through interviews, legal analysis, and a detailed examination of the events leading to Skylar’s death, ABC 20/20 offers a comprehensive look into a case that continues to resonate with audiences and serves as a cautionary tale about the complexities of teenage relationships and the potential for darkness within.

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Ryan Gill

Ryan is a passionate follower of true crime television programs, reporting on and providing in-depth investigations on mysteries in the criminal world.

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