Death of Innocence - The Murder of Young Shanda Sharer
In the spring of 1994, Toni Lawrence received her GED. Four years later, on Nov. 10, 1998, she was denied early release from prison. During 2000, she received an associate's degree, which reduced her prison sentence by nearly one year.
In March 2000, Crime Library reporter David Lohr sent a letter to each of the convicted murderers asking for their opinion as to why someone would kill. Only two responded, Laurie Tackett being the first:
"I've often wondered what motivates someone to commit murder myself. No murderer has the same motivations as all the rest in my opinion. I believe (killers) are really deep individuals who are searching for some kind of release. Whether it be mental, physical or spiritual, it's always release. There's always a purpose for one's actions...there could be many reasons.
"Let's say, for instance, I know a couple of people who kill simply for the fear that they see in their victim's eyes, and for the sight of blood on their bodies...my opinion is that they do it to feel superior or high on the victim's fear, and they're thirsty for the spill of blood."
The only other reply came from Toni Lawrence. In some ways her views were similar:
"I think the first time one kills, they kill to get that high that they could never obtain any other way."
But it is a separate, more telling paragraph that catches the attention:
"So you write Laurie? How about Hope Melinda?...I don't mind about Laurie please tell her I think of her daily and that I'm ok."
The above statement leads one to seriously question some of Toni's statements regarding her relationship with Laurie and her participation in the murder of Shanda Sharer. It seems odd that someone would want to send best wishes to a person whom they claimed ruined her life by brutally murdering an innocent girl.
Regardless of her level of guilt, on December 14, 2000, 24-year-old Toni Lawrence walked out of prison on parole after serving nearly nine years of her 20-year sentence. Following her release, Lawrence spoke briefly with Louisville television station WAVE before heading back to Madison with her parents.
"I didn't stop it, I couldn't stop it. I don't care what anyone else says. If I had tried anything different, I would've been dead, lying there with her, and they would never know."
Toni remained on parole until December 2002.
On Saturday, April 21, 2001, 45-year-old reporter for The Courier-Journal Michael Joseph Quinlan, author of Little Lost Angel: The True Story of the Teenage Conspiracy to Kill Twelve Year Old Shanda Sharer, died at his home in Lawrenceburg, Ky., from brain cancer. Following his death, Kathy Quinlan started the Michael Quinlan Brain Cancer Foundation.