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Floyd County

January 11, 2009

New Albany memorial focuses on Shanda, not her murder

Worldwide candle lighting brings awareness to youth crime

If Shanda R. Sharer’s mother could say one thing to her daughter today, it would be, “I miss you.”

Shanda was killed in 1992 at age 12 when four teenage girls, then ages 15 to 17, abducted, beat and raped her before burning her to death.

Pyke-Calloway Mullineaux Chapel, of New Albany, hosted a ceremony in Shanda’s honor on Sunday.

The memorial became a worldwide event — candles and a moment of silence took place at 3 p.m. — Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Mexico and other parts of the United States participated. The idea started after 7,000 signatures were added to a petition on the Web site Justice For Shanda, owned by Sue Nyberg.

Nyberg and others hope to help pass laws, stopping the pre-release of convicted juvenile offenders who committed adult crimes such as murder. Two of Shanda’s assailants have been released from prison — one female convicted of pouring gas on Shanda now works at a factory, and another female obtained a bachelor’s degree.

Many things have changed since Shanda’s death, however her memory remains constant. When Shanda was alive, the Internet was just becoming popular and big hair was in style. Many questions remain about Shanda and her death - Would she have married? What career would she have chosen? Could school resource officers or bullying programs have helped prevent her death? “Kids are so different now than when we were 12,” Brandi Dalton Milan, Shanda’s childhood friend said. “I have a teenager now.”

“She does know all of it,” Jacque Vaught said during an interview with The Evening News and The Tribune when asked what she thought Shanda might think about Sunday’s service and The Shanda Sharer Scholarship.

“She is always with us,” Vaught said.

Two scholarship awards will split $3,000 between two Prosser School of Technology students.

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