Sharon Ray Murder: How Did She Die? Was the Killer Found?

When a couple of sightseers stumbled upon the lifeless and half-buried body of Sharon Ray on the beach in 1983, they called the police immediately in a state of horror. In Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder in the Heartland: Living Among Liars,’ we get a detailed account of Sharon’s murder case, including the investigation that followed. Moreover, the interviews with Sharon’s loved ones and the experts provide the viewers with some intricate details about the case.

Sharon Ray Was Found Partially Buried on the Beach

Born in the early 1960s, Sharon Ray grew up under the umbrella of the love and support of her parents or guardians. She was supposedly a vibrant and kind-hearted girl who had her whole life in front of her when she was brutally murdered. Just 19 at the time of her demise, she was a college student with a bright future. But tragically, on October 30, 1983, two sightseers discovered the partially buried body of Sharon Ray, poking out of the sand at Pescadero State Beach, north of Pescadero Creek.

Immediately, the police were called, and when they rushed to the crime scene, they learned that Sharon was sexually assaulted before she was strangled to death by the perpetrator. After taping the scene of the crime, the authorities got busy searching for critical pieces of evidence or clues that could lead them to the killer responsible for the brutal murder of the 19-year-old girl.

John Joseph Scott Was Falsely Accused of Sharon Ray’s Murder Thrice

Upon collecting the evidence, the police next held interviews with Sharon Ray’s loved ones to paint a clearer picture of her life around the time of her murder. After interrogating some witnesses and friends, the authorities discovered that Sharon was last seen in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood the day before her body was found, that is, on October 29, 1983.

Image Credit: CBS News

Witnesses claimed they saw Sharon enter a station wagon with the then 35-year-old man, John Joseph Scott. Without any delay whatsoever, since the police believe John was allegedly the person she was last seen with, he was arrested under suspicion of her assault and murder. However, there was not enough evidence to back up the claim at the time, so he was released, and the case did not go to prosecution. After that, the investigation of the Sharon Ray murder case went cold for several decades.

After more than three decades, John Joseph Scott came under the radar of the detectives yet again as the 1983 murder case of Sharon Ray was reopened. In the hopes of catching a break in the case using modern and advanced technologies, they sent all the pieces of evidence related to the case to the San Mateo County Forensic Lab for further analysis. Once the biological evidence was located, the lab results yielded a DNA profile of the suspect, linking John Joseph Scott to the murder of Sharon yet again. However, they did not reveal the reason for the reopening of the case and the evidence that linked John to the murder.

Backed up by evidence, in November 2015, the police arrested John Joseph Scott, aged 67 at the time, in the small community of Topock in Mohave County, Arizona, where he resided and booked into prison on a $5 million arrest warrant. When the trial of John commenced, he maintained his innocence and was quite confident that the charges against him would not stick. As per John’s claims, it was his third time getting charged with the murder of Sharon Ray. He stated, “I beat this case twice already. This is the third time they’ve picked me up on this.”

The following month of his arrest, in December, he was extradited to San Mateo County. Then, a month later, in January 2016, the 68-year-old suspect was cleared of the charges against him yet again due to insufficient evidence and was released from a San Mateo County prison. Elaborating on the release of John Joseph Scott, the San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe stated, “We acquired some additional information. The evidence does not support that he’s the killer.”

While Joseph was relieved to have been released, he said that he felt terrible that Sharon was killed and the police still hadn’t been able to get to the actual perpetrator. After his release, John was flown to the closest airport to his Arizona home and escorted to his place of residence conveniently. Meanwhile, the police continued the investigation and delved deeper into the murder of Sharon Ray. Steve Wagstaffe further added, “We are in the middle of some fast investigative work. But at this point, we’ve concluded it is not John Scott.”

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