CRIME HUNTER: Double murder on July 4

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Sally Ann McNelly would never attend the high school prom.


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Instead, her parents would “very carefully” place her prom gown on the 18-year-old’s coffin because “there was nothing to put it on,” just bones.

On July 4, 1988, Sally and her 17-year-old boyfriend Shane Paul Stewart planned to see the big fireworks display at Lake Nasworthy in San Angelo, Texas. The couple had been from time to time, but recently they had gotten back together.

After giving his dad a hug, Shane told him he would be home by 11pm. The couple would never return.

When Sally Ann and Shane were reported missing the next day, a search soon uncovered their prized copper-colored Chevrolet Camaro abandoned in the parking lot with the windows open and the keys still in the ignition. There were no signs of foul play.

Witnesses last saw the couple in the Camaro around midnight, but nothing seemed particularly strange. Inside the car were food wrappers and a note from Sally to her parents, allegedly claiming she was unhappy at home.


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Despite large-scale searches for Sally and Shane, nothing turned up until November, when hunters discovered their skeletal remains in a meadow near Twin Buttes Reservoir in the San Angelo area. His bones were discovered nearby. The location was about 20 miles from where they had been last seen.

Both teens died from gunshot wounds. Both had been shot in the head with a shotgun.

Sally Ann McNelly, 18, and her boyfriend Shane Paul Stewart, 17, were killed in San Angelo, Texas.  BROCHURE / TEXAS RANGERS
Sally Ann McNelly, 18, and her boyfriend Shane Paul Stewart, 17, were killed in San Angelo, Texas. BROCHURE / TEXAS RANGERS

Why would anyone want to murder two children in cold blood? Rumors were rampant, including that the couple were dabbling in the occult and were members of a satanic cult.

Sally’s friends claimed that they had witnessed her attend parties where occult practices and black magic were performed. It was the height of satanic panic and attracted a huge wave of media attention, including an advertisement in Unsolved Mysteries.


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The Standard-Times reported that Sally had been a member for a while and that Shane was trying to help her free herself.

And according to news reports, in March 1988, Sally and Shane turned in a gun to local police. They said a cult member had given them to them on the grounds that they were used in murder. Police discovered that the weapon was stolen.

Detectives have long rejected the idea that the murders were related to the occult.

The case quickly grew cold, and as the years passed, Sally and Shane’s families grew sick with concern that they would never see justice.

In 2013, Shane’s father, Marshall Stewart, sadly lamented on the 25th anniversary: ​​”There were no answers.”

John Cyrus Gilbreath: Person of interest in the double murder.  BROCHURE / TEXAS RANGERS
John Cyrus Gilbreath: Person of interest in the double murder. BROCHURE / TEXAS RANGERS

Until June 2017.

A San Angelo man named John Cyrus Gilbreath, 47, was pulled over at a routine traffic stop after his girlfriend told officers he was in the marijuana trade. A court order was obtained to search his home.


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Gilbreath had been on the detectives’ radar for a long time.

Inside the home, Texas Rangers and the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office discovered personal writings “specific to the murder crime” that included the names of Shane and Sally, along with three audiotapes with “SS” written on them, a search warrant affidavit obtained by stated the San Angelo Standard-Times.

The officers also obtained a lock of hair, a fingernail and biological material believed to be blood, KIDY-TV reported.

Gilbreath remains in federal prison on other charges, but is considered a “person of interest” in the double homicide.

Investigators have long suspected that more than one person was involved in the double murder.

Shane’s father Marshall kept the Camaro for years until it “got too much.”


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As for the killers?

“I just want them to fix themselves and God,” Marshall said in a YouTube video.

Roberta Ferguson: Missing.  BROCHURE / RCMP
Roberta Ferguson: Missing. BROCHURE / RCMP


DATE: AUGUST. 24 of 1988

411: On August 24, 1988, 19-year-old Roberta Ferguson was camping with a group of friends at the SunnySide Campground in Cultus Lake, BC. He left the area on foot around 8pm and is believed to have been heading back to Surrey. According to the RCMP, a witness observed a woman who matched Roberta’s description talking to a man inside a red sports car at the intersection of Vedder Mountain Rd. And Cultus Lake Rd. She is described as of medium height, blond hair. or light brown and a prominent jaw.

Roberta is an indigenous woman, 5ft 5in, 115lbs, with black eyes and medium length black hair to one side. She has octagon-shaped glasses and was last seen in a navy tank top over a black T-shirt, black stretch pants rolled up to the knees, dirty white sneakers, and an army green backpack. Foul play is suspected in his disappearance.

Contact: Anyone with information about Roberta’s disappearance should call the Chilliwack RCMP Serious Crimes Section at 604-792-4611 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222 TIPS (8477).

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