Real Name: Joan Rochelle Malone
Location: Plains, Virginia
Date: October 18, 1992
Details: Thirty-seven-year-old Shelly Malone was a capable horseback rider. On October 18, 1992, while riding with friends, she was discovered lying on the ground in a wooded area, apparently injured in a riding accident. As paramedics struggled to save her life, her boyfriend, George Carhart, and two friends, Erica Stumvoll and Carter Wiley, could only stand by helplessly and watch. Erica allegedly witnessed the accident; she claimed that Shelley had fallen off of her horse and had been repeatedly trampled by the horse. One blow was apparently strong enough to rupture her heart. Tragically, she later passed away. However, Shelly's family considers the accident highly questionable. They felt it impossible for this to happen as she was such an experienced horse ride.
Shelly had moved to the Plains area in 1988 due to her love of horses. A benefactor, Cecil Altman, set her up in business and reportedly gave her an allowance of $5,000 per month. She lived in a small house in the country where she stabled her two horses. In 1990, she and George started dating. He lived in New York, but visited her often. However, by 1992, she told her parents that their relationship had become strained.
On Friday, October 16, two days before her death, she allegedly had an impromptu romantic encounter with a local attorney. Her family believes that George found out about the affair and came to visit that weekend. On Sunday afternoon, October 18, she had plans to go riding with Erica. George and Erica's boyfriend, Carter Wiley, stayed behind at the house.
According to Erica, the two alternately walked, trotted, and galloped the horses through several fields and trails. They were about 100 yards into a new field when their horses became spooked. Erica was thrown off of her horse but was not seriously hurt. However, Shelly was thrown off of her horse as well. Erica witnessed Shelly's horse repeatedly stomping on Shelly's body. She checked her pulse and noticed that her cheek was turning blue. Erica immediately went to seek medical attention. However, she claimed that she got lost trying to find her way back. It would be an hour-and-a-half before paramedics arrived.
George called Shelly's mother to tell her of the accident. When her family went to view her body at the morgue, they were shocked by her injuries. To them, it appeared that she had been beaten or attacked by a human, not a horse. Her face was severely swollen and her eyes were black and blue. However, the coroner ruled the death an accident.
Two days after the funeral, Shelly's family arrived at her home and found a pickup truck backed up to the porch with some of her belongings in the truck bed. Inside, they found that George and several others were packing up the rest of her belongings. George apparently made several insensitive comments to them. He also placed most of her belongings in black trash bags. The next day, George took her family to the dump to look for the clothes that she was wearing at the time of her death. Although they never found her clothes, they did find two dozen boxes from Tiffany and Cartier, all empty.
When her family asked George about the missing jewelry, he claimed that she was hocking her jewelry. Her family did not believe this. However, some found it credible, especially due to Shelly's past. In 1979, she had been convicted on drugs charges. Also, during the 1980s, she allegedly had ties to a savings-and-loan scandal.
Shelly's family was surprised when they examined her truck and found apparent blood stains in it. A Florida detective tested the stains and determined that it was human. He believed that it came from a head wound. The truck was returned to Virginia where more testing was done on the stains. However, DNA was not taken from blood found in her truck due to the restricted police budget.
Shelly's family is convinced that she was murdered and that her death was staged to look like an accident. A horse expert examined the case and does not believe that Shelly's horse would have acted the way that Erica described. He does not believe that a horse would accidentally or intentionally step on their rider.
Despite this, the local police department and the office of the Medical Examiner in Washington, D.C., continue to maintain that the death was an accident.
Suspects: Shelly's family suspects that her boyfriend, George Carhart, her friend, Erica Stumvoll, and Erica's boyfriend, Carter Wiley, were all involved in her death. They believe that either George or Carter struck her in an argument and then staged her death to look like an accident. They believe that they punched her and used horseshoes to cause the injuries and impressions on her body.
Her family believes that she was killed because she was cheating on George at the time of her death. They also suspect that a financial motive may have been the reason for her death.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the May 3, 1996 episode. The local police and Shelly's friends declined to be interviewed for the case.
Results: Unsolved. In 1998, Shelly's body was exhumed for another autopsy. However, the new examiner found no evidence of foul play; her death was again ruled an accident. Shelly's family is still convinced that she was murdered.
- Shelly Malone on Unsolved.com
- (1999 Article by the Washington Post)The Horse Whisperers
- Shelly Malone at Find a Grave