Real Names: Shane Paul Stewart and Sally Ann McNelly
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: San Angelo, Texas
Date: July 4, 1988
Details: Sixteen-year-old Shane Stewart and eighteen-year-old Sally McNelly seemed to be normal teenagers growing up in San Angelo, Texas; they began dating in fall 1987. However, they allegedly began dabbling and participating with a local Satanic cult in 1988. Sally's mother, Pat Wade, became concerned when she began sneaking out late at night. One night, she confronted her, but Sally refused to tell her where she had been. Pat called one of Sally's friend's parents 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, Shane and Sally moved into an apartment together. In March, 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. He determined that it was stolen, although he was unable to connect it to a murder. Shane and Sally told him that they feared that they would be harmed by members of the cult. Six weeks later, they 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 told him that nothing was wrong. The next day, Independence Day, Shane and Sally mysteriously vanished, shortly after they attended a 9pm fireworks show at Lake Nasworthy. Later that night, a witness reported seeing them six miles away at Isabel Harte Park near O.C. Fisher Lake. A pickup truck approached them. The witness then heard Sally tell its occupants that they did not want to be involved with "that" anymore. This was the last confirmed sighting of them. The next morning, Shane's car was found abandoned in a different section of the park. Fast food wrappers were on the front seat, the keys were on the dashboard, and he and Sally were nowhere to be found.
At first, authorities believed that Shane and Sally had run away. However, Marshall believed that they had met with foul play. He remembered that Shane had mentioned a specific teen whom he did not get along with. He allegedly stated that if they were to come in contact with each other, they would get into a serious fight. Marshall went to the teen's home to question him. He noticed that he had several scratches on his face, as if he had been in a fight. However, he refused to speak to Marshall about this case.
Four months later in November, authorities changed their opinion on this case when Shane and Sally's skeletal remains were found in a pasture seventeen miles away, near the Twin Buttes Reservoir. Both had been 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 them while at the lake, took them to the area seventeen miles away, and murdered them. To this day, this case remains unsolved.
Suspects: Members of the cult that Shane and Sally were involved with are considered suspects in their deaths. Marshall is especially suspicious of the teen that did not get along with Shane, who had scratches on his face after Shane and Sally's disappearance.
Based on the location of Shane and Sally's remains, investigators believe that the killer was from the San Angelo area.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the September 18, 1991 episode.
Results: Unsolved. In 1994, a DNA profile was recovered from evidence found next to Shane's car. It was uploaded to the national database, but no matches have been found so far. In July 2014, the Sheriff's department announced that this case had been reopened and that they had two major developments: a person of interest has been located in a foreign country, and Shane's remains had been exhumed for DNA purposes. Investigators also planned on getting DNA samples from persons of interest in this case; however, it is not known if any matches were made to the crime scene evidence.
In February 2016, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that they were asking for the public's help in solving this case. It was also announced that a reward was being offered in it.
In June 2017, police identified a possible suspect in this 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 it, however, they found evidence that connected him to Shane and Sally's murders. Some of it included three audio tapes with "SS" written on them, handwritten notes and ledgers mentioning them, a lock of hair, a fingernail, other documents mentioning them, and biological material that might be blood.
Investigators have confirmed that John has been a suspect in this case from the beginning. He was one of the members of the "group" that Shane and Sally were a part of. He was seventeen at the time. He had previous convictions for felony theft and delivery of marijuana. In 2018, he 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 "person of interest".
- Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly on Unsolved.com
- Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly on Wikipedia
- Remembering Shane and Sally Facebook Page
- Sally McNelly on Texas Rangers
- Unsolved murder haunts father, investigators - May 23, 2010
- Kin, officials seek answers in double homicide - July 2, 2013
- DNA evidence eyed in 1988 slayings - May 6, 2014
- Clues to a 1988 double homicide come as anniversary approaches - July 1, 2014
- Sheriff's Office Announces Developments in 26-year-old Double Homicide - July 2, 2014
- DPS Seeks Leads to 1988 Double Murder Case - February 8, 2016
- Reward: San Angelo murders remain unsolved after 27 years - February 8, 2016
- DPS Seeks Leads in 1988 Double Murder in San Angelo - February 9, 2016
- Special FBI Unit joins cold case investigation - June 15, 2017
- New Evidence Found in Cold Case from 1988 - June 21, 2017
- New evidence found in 29-year-old cold case - June 22, 2017
- Blood, fingernail found at home of Texas man link him to 1988 slayings of 2 teens, authorities say - June 25, 2017
- Warrant: Texas man person of interest in 1988 death of teens - June 26, 2017
- Search of Texas man's home leads to gruesome discovery linking him to 1988 cold case murder of teens - June 27, 2017
- Double Homicide Suspect in Cold Case Appointed an Attorney Wednesday - August 31, 2017
- Friends and family celebrate birthday of homicide victim, Sally McNelly - March 26, 2018
- 30th Anniversary of the Unsolved Murders of Shane and Sally Remembered - July 4, 2018
- Shane Stewart and Sally McNelly on Find a Grave