Real Names: Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: San Angelo, Texas
Date: July 4, 1988
Details: Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly seemed to be normal teenagers growing up in San Angelo, Texas, and began dating each other in the fall of 1987. However, they allegedly began dabbling and participating with a local Satanic cult in 1988. Sally's mother, Pat Wade, became concerned when Sally began sneaking out late at night. One night, she confronted her, but Sally refused to tell her where she had been. Pat called the parents of one of Sally's friends and found out that they may have been involved with a Satanic cult.
Sally began attending ritualistic parties regularly, and on one occasion invited her friend, Helen. Helen became concerned when Sally appeared to enter a trance during the ritual. Helen decided to leave but was still concerned about her safety. Shane's father, Marshall, also noticed that he began changing when he became involved with the cult. He apparently began getting into fights with other teens. One time, he had gotten into a serious fight and was thrown in a river.
In January 1988, Sally and Shane moved into an apartment together. In March 1988, Sally called the police and claimed that some members of the cult were involved in criminal activity. They gave an investigator a gun that a cult member claimed was involved in a robbery/murder. The investigator determined that the gun was stolen, although he was unable to connect it to a murder. The couple told this investigator that they feared that they would be harmed by members of the cult. Six weeks later, the two moved out of their apartment and left town separately. However, by early summer, they both returned to San Angelo. In mid-June 1988, Sally called Helen and told her that they were afraid that they were going to be killed.
Around noon on July 3, Shane received a phone call that Marshall believed was about money and the cult. However, Shane claimed that nothing was wrong. The next day, Independence Day, he and Sally mysteriously vanished, shortly after they attended a 9 pm fireworks show. A witness reported seeing them at a park later that night, and saw a pickup truck approach them. The witness heard Sally say to its occupants that they did not want to be involved with "that" any more. This was the last confirmed sighting of them. Shane's car was found abandoned near Ocee Lake the next day. Fast food wrappers were on the front seat, the keys were on the dashboard, and the couple was nowhere to be found.
At first, authorities believed that they had ran away. However, Marshall Stewart believed that they had met with foul play. He remembered that Shane had mentioned a specific teen whom he did not get along with. Shane allegedly stated that if he and this teen were to come in contact with each other, they would get into a serious fight. When Marshall went to this teen's home to question him. He noticed that the teen had several scratches on his face, as if he had been in a fight. However, he refused to speak to Marshall about the case.
Four months later, authorities changed their opinion on the case when the couple's skeletal remains were found seventeen miles away, shot to death with a shotgun. Their families and authorities are convinced that the occult-type activities that they were involved in might have lead to their murders. Marshall believes that several of the cult members abducted Shane and Sally while at the lake, took them to the area seventeen miles away, and murdered them. To this day, the case remains unsolved.
Suspects: Members of the cult that Shane and Sally were involved with are considered suspects in their deaths. Marshall Stewart is especially suspicious of the teen that did not get along with Shane, who had scratches on his face after the couple's disappearance.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the September 18, 1991 episode.
Results: Unresolved. In 1994, a DNA profile was recovered from evidence found next to Shane's abandoned car. The DNA was uploaded to the national database, but no matches have been found so far. In July of 2014, the Sheriff's department indicated that the case has never been closed and that they had two major developments. It has been revealed that they have tracked down a person of interest to a foreign country. The remains of Shane Stewart have been exhumed for DNA purposes as per the new investigation.
In June of 2017, police identified a possible suspect in the case: John Gilbreath. He was arrested for marijuana possession and his girlfriend told officers that more drug-related evidence was at his home. When they searched the home, however, they found evidence that connected him to Shane and Sally's murders. Some of the evidence included: three audio tapes with "SS" written on them, handwritten notes and ledgers mentioning both victims, a lock of hair, a fingernail, other documents mentioning the victims, and biological material that might be blood.
Investigators have confirmed that Gilbreath has been a suspect in the case from the beginning. He was one of the members of the "group" that the victims were a part of. He was seventeen at the time. Gilbreath was convicted of marijuana and firearm possession charges and is currently serving time in federal prison. As of yet, he has not been charged with murder but police consider him a suspect.
- Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly on Unsolved.com
- Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly on Wikipedia
- Remembering Shane and Sally Facebook Page
- Unsolved murder haunts father, investigators
- DPS Seeks Leads to 1988 Double Murder Case
- DNA evidence eyed in 1988 slayings
- Sheriff's Office Announces Developments in 26-year-old Double Homicide
- New Evidence Found in Cold Case from 1988
- Friends and family celebrate birthday of homicide victim, Sally McNelly
- Sally McNelly and Shane Stewart at Find A Grave