(Read Part 1 and Part 2) On July 6, 2012, three years ago today, Skylar Neese was brutally murdered by the two girls who had been her best friends freshman year of high school. The three girls began smoking pot together 21 months earlier. Shelia Eddy was quite depressed, but wild and rebellious. Her stepfather bought her a car which she used when sneaking out at night to smoke pot.
In early 2013, before she stopped using Twitter, Shelia Eddy posted several tweets about getting stoned. Prophetically, she even stated: “this generation is fucked. imagine what it’ll be like when our kids have kids.” Isn’t she referencing the damage to young brains on pot?
In Pretty Little Killers, authors Berry and Fuller summarize the investigation, the trial and how the discovery of Shelia Eddy’s and Rachel Shoaf’s guilt unfolded. Rumors and online speculation ran rampant for months. Finally the two trials reached a conclusion about a year ago. Rachel pleaded guilty to 2nd degree murder and will be eligible for parole in 10 years.
Shelia pled guilty to first degree murder and will be eligible for parole in 15 years. It is very disturbing that Shelia actually had helped Skylar’s parents after she was missing, took part in the search and covered up her role in the murder. News magazine programs, such as 20/20 and Dateline NBC, looked into the investigation and trial. The book provides more substantial coverage of the story.
Confession and Remorse
Rachel felt remorse after 6 months, had a breakdown and confessed. The book makes it clear that Shelia’s dishonesty and lack of remorse after the murders continued while Rachel could not hold up the disguise. Rachel is described as a sociopath and a “follower” in the book. Shelia, with a lack of conscience, is described as psychopathic. Shelia also she smoked the most pot of the three, but the authors don’t attempt to connect the pot to her psychopathology.
There was a similar lack of remorse in the recent trial of Boston bomber Johar Tsarnaev, who also smoked a great deal of weed during his teens. Casey Anthony also lacked feelings of guilt which can be compared to Shelia’s callous emotion. According to a friend of Casey Anthony, who allegedly killed her young daughter, Caylee, marijuana was the only drug she used.
Youth under age 25 are particularly vulnerable to the assault of THC on the brain and these girls were easily lured into it. Weed was the reason Skylar agreed to go out with Shelia and Rachel on the fatal night, even though she had vowed not hang out with them any longer. The pull of getting high was true strong.
Marijuana and Depression and Addiction
More than one quarter of all high school students are described as depressed. With the stresses of today—academic pressures, relationship problems, moving, parental divorce, etc., it’s not surprising many students seek the escape route of mind-altering drugs. If someone is depressed, the relief of marijuana is temporary. In the meantime, the drug is causing powerful changes to brain chemistry.
Of the three girls, Shelia was clearly the depressed one, if we follow the evidence in the book. She obsessed about weed so frequently that it’s likely she had an addiction to pot. One in 6 who begin before age 17 will become addicted. She smoked using a sheet over toilet paper roles to hide the smell from her mom and step-dad.
While some people who are depressed turn on themselves, others will take out the depression and rage on others. Marijuana allows one to detach from emotions.
While alcohol may heighten the emotions, weed is described in some users as having the opposite effect, being like an anesthesia. Before Jaylen Fryberg shot his cousins and classmates at a high school in Washington, he wrote a Tweet about smoking a ton of weed to get over the girlfriend who broke up with him. Also on the Twitter feed is a revelation that she broke up because pot made him stupid.
Not all teen pot users are troubled before they start. Not all depressed teens who use pot to cope will become murderers. However, temporary relief from marijuana will compromise the ability to work through the problem or issue. A long-term study from Australia and New Zealand showed that teens who use marijuana are 7x more likely to attempt suicide, a fact which should force American policymakers to stop ignoring the many risks of young people using marijuana.
The nature of the teen years is to break away, to try new things and expand one’s horizons. Experimentation will happen, but to arm our children with greater knowledge and information before trouble happens should be our goal. Pot use in adolescence prevents the normal development and maturation process, and it can blunt the conscience. Why is the U.S. government doing nothing to educate our young people against using pot?
Recently, a 19-year old in Sheboygan, WI, was convicted of killing his father over a dispute about his marijuana smoke. How did he develop the rage that would him to commit such a hideous crime at age 17? Is it marijuana’s influence on his brain, as in Eddy and Shoaf.
The Pretty Little Killers, Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf, join a list of notorious youth whose inexplicable behaviors may be attributed to pot use during the growing years — Casey Anthony’s murder of her daughter; Amanda Knox who laughed about her roommate’s murder; Jaylen Fryberg of the Marysville, Washington, shootings, and Johar Tsarnaev. Fryberg was popular. Johar Tsarnaev was considered just an easy-going pot smoker, but when his brother killed a friend and two others on 9/11/11, he slashed the bodies and covered them in 8 lbs of weed. Remember, today’s pot is 4x more potent than it was 30 year ago.
If Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf had never started smoking pot, it’s likely that Skylar Neese would be alive today and in college. Shelia and Rachel would be looking forward to a brighter future, perhaps with college, career and family instead of jail. (Our sympathy to the parents. We put the blame squarely on the weed, not the parents.)
Our conclusion pulls together scientific evidence that pot dramatically changes young brains. Subscribe to get that part of the story.