Early Release For Woman Who Took Part In 12-Year-Old's 1992 Torture Killing

By Jeff Tang

(MADISON, Ind.) -- It was the murder case that rocked southern Indiana more than a decade ago. In 1992, 12-year-old Shanda Sharer was tortured and killed by four teenage girls. On Friday, one of her killers will be set free. WAVE 3's Jeff Tang investigates.

Almost everything in life fades away with time. The memory of Shanda Sharer's murder is not one of them.

In 1992, 15-year-old Hope Rippey and three other girls admitted to torturing 12-year-old Sharer, then burning her alive.

Rippey, now 29, was 15 at the time of the murder. She was sentenced to 40 years, with 17-and-a-half years to be served behind bars. But in 2004, a judge cut five years off the sentence for good behavior, allowing her to leave the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis on Friday.

A college student at the time, Miller watched the case unfold in her hometown, never knowing she'd one day become part of it.

"It was horrific," recalls Cherilyn Miller. "I just remembered I was in shock."

Now Miller will supervise Rippey as her probation officer. "I just have to approach it with an open mind like anyone else, regardless of the crime," she says.

Shanda's mother, Jacque Vaught, cannot look at Rippey's release the same way. "I'm angry," she says. "I'm very angry. It never should have happened."

She's angry about what happened to Shanda, and also angry that Rippey is getting out early. "Just serve your sentence," she says. "Be respectful of my child and serve your sentence. She's never been able to do this. She's tried to get out from day one."

After her daughter was murdered Vaught served as a victim's advocate in Floyd County. To her the system that gave her family justice took it away more than a decade later. "She never should have prevailed on this but she did. So she's gonna be out on Friday."

Although the town of Madison will never forget Hope Rippey, it appears she plans to forget Madison.

"She just wants to blend in with the world," Miller says. "She's actually planning on living in Marion County and not returning here to live."

Vaught hopes the world won't forget her daughter. "She was a baby. She was my child. She was 12 years old and that's how I'll always be able to remember her."

Two of the other girls convicted in the case are still serving their prison sentences. Melinda Loveless and Laurie Tackett had the most involvement in the torture and murder of Sharer. The fourth girl, Toni Lawrence, was convicted of lesser charges. She was released in 2000 after serving nine years.

Online Reporter: Jeff Tang

Online Producer: Michael Dever