After nearly three years without a murder, Hartselle has had two in one weekend, along with a suicide. In both cases, domestic problems appear to be the possible cause of the violence. On Saturday, neighbors of Elaine Pannell Shepherd, 67, went to her home at 1207 Gemini Circle to check on her because they had not seen her or her dogs in several days. At about 10:45 a.m. they entered her unlocked front door and found her body lying a few feet away.
The dogs were also in the house for Termite Inspection. According to Hartselle Police Lt. Ron Puckett, a neighbor saw her ex-husbands car in Shepherds driveway on Wednesday. Puckett noted at a press conference Monday that they had two possible addresses for John Shepherd in Phoenix, Arizona. They requested help from the Phoenix Police Department in checking those out. On Tuesday morning, Hartselle Police received a call from Phoenix saying Shepherd had been found dead at 3719 West Butler Street in Phoenix of an apparent suicide.
On Sunday morning, Tracey Michelle Sharp, 18, went to visit her father at 1620 Marks Drive, just east of Highway 31 off Moss Chapel Road. According to Hartselle Police Chief Ferrell Vest, her mother began getting worried in late afternoon when her daughter had not returned home after what was usually a short visit. The mother called the fathers home several times and got no answers. She then drove by the house and saw that her daughters car was still in the driveway so she called Hartselle Police and asked that they make a welfare check on her daughter.
According to neighbors, the Shepherds had been divorced for about two weeks. That call to police arrived at about 7:20 p.m. Sunday night. Shortly after, they arrived at 1620 Marks Drive police found the bodies of Sharp and her father, Donnie DeWayne Sharp, 49. It appeared that the father had killed the daughter with at least one shot from a pistol and then turned the gun on himself. Tracey Sharp graduated from Hartselle High School last May and was a student at Wallace State Community College.