SISTERS WHO KILL
TWISTED SIBLINGS SHARON AND DEBORAH WERE THE MOST UNLIKELY KILLERS
Thirty-something sisters Sharon and Deborah Halstead, who lived in the quiet rural county of Grants Pass, Oregon, were the last people you’d expect to fear.
The seemingly mildmannered suburban women, members of the Seventh Day Adventist church, blended quietly into their community.
That was until November 5, 1988, when police were called to a mystery homicide case which shocked the county.
The chilling story of these evil siblings, the crimes they committed and the lives they destroyed has even caught the eye of Khloé Kardashian.
The US media star, just 4 years old when the sisters went on a murderous rampage, finds their story so fascinating, she produced a documentary about them for her new crime series, Twisted Sisters.
Explains Khloé: “My series shows how strong the bonds between sisters really are but how twisted they can become!”
Certainly nobody dreamed the two Halstead sisters, who’d had a deeply religious upbringing, were capable of extreme violence.
In 1988, Sharon, 36, had sole custody of her sons Leo, 9, and Harry, 12. After her marriage dissolved, she invited Deborah to move in.
“We lived in a nice neighbourhood, with a cherry tree in the yard,” recalls Harry, now 44. “Deborah was like my second mother. My aunt took it on herself to spoil me to counter the way my mother spoiled my brother Leo.”
The kind couple next door, teacher Lynn Greene, 32, and her husband David, 31, a dental technician, often socialised with the sisters, who shared their religious beliefs.
“I loved Lynn. She was a kind-hearted woman, she’d help me with my maths,” says Harry.
The four adults belonged to the same prayer group, a bizarre gathering frowned on by their local church, as members believed some followers could communicate directly with angels.
“We were trying to talk to God; we all thought we were hearing God at the time,” recalls David Greene.
But the prayer group turned sinister after Sharon began bringing young Leo along to the prayer meetings.
According to Harry, the adults began to believe his brother had special powers and could hear what the angels had to say. Young Leo found that anything he said to the gullible adults was heeded.
He began announcing the angels had said they should steal from local businesses.
Former county prosecutor Tim Thompson recalls that over several months, Sharon and Deborah Halstead stole goods worth about $82,000 from local stores.
“Leo’s stated reason was that the businesses were possessed by demons,” he says.
But then things got worse. Recalls Harry: “One night, we saw some people walking. My mother hit one over the head with a light. She just did it out of the blue. My mother and
“WHAT MOTHER COULD DO THAT? I DIDN’T KNOW THEY HAD THIS DARK SIDE”
aunt felt they had a higher moral authority than everyone else so they felt it allowed them to do bad things.”
Then one day, young Leo pronounced that his uncle Michael – who lived a few miles to the north – had been “demonised” and had to be
killed. Taking the two boys, the sisters promptly drove to their brother’s farm, ready to kill, but he wasn’t home. Instead, they saw ranch hand, Marston Lemke, 58, and decided he should die.
“My mother knocked on the door. And she shot him,” Harry says. As the stunned man lay dying, he murmured, “Why did you shoot me?”
Sharon didn’t reply, just kept shooting. The women then drove with the boys back to Grants Pass in a stolen ute.
On the drive, young Leo told his mum and aunt that the Greenes, their beloved neighbours, must also die.
The four then headed next door. “They rang the door. It was my birthday,” recalls David, now 64, who was enjoying a night at home with Lynn and their toddler son Nathaniel.
Assuming the family had come to wish him a happy birthday, he opened the door with a smile. But the foursome made a beeline for the bathroom where young Harry wrote “Trust in Jesus” on the wall.
“Lynn then went to the bathroom and asked them to leave. That’s when they got resistant. They started surrounding us,” says David.
Sharon then held up a gun. “Then I knew I was in trouble,” David recalls.
“My first thought was, ‘I need to get out of this house, because if I don’t survive this, no-one will find out who did it.”
He unlocked the door and tried to flee, but Sharon shot him in the back and he fell to the ground in agony. Sharon then turned her gun on 2-year-old Nathaniel.
“My mother had no emotion at all. It’s like she had trained her whole life to do something like this,” Harry shakes his head. “My aunt, she could have put a stop to it. But she didn’t.”
As for Lynn, “That woman fought to defend her son and herself,” Harry recalls. “But they surrounded Lynn, and my mother shot her in the head.”
David recalls the “bloodcurdling scream” before his wife died. His son survived, but was paralysed for life.
David says he’s been haunted with guilt over running out of the home, leaving his wife and baby son to be shot, but says, “I had no idea they were planning to execute Lynn. Much less, why shoot a 2-year-old? What mother could do that? I didn’t know they had this dark side.”
Sharon was later convicted of murder and sentenced to 75 years in prison. Deborah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and served only three years in jail.
Harry and Leo, who were never charged with any crime as they were children, say they feel no guilt.
“I hold my mother responsible,” says Harry of the shocking case still being talked about 32 years on.
• Twisted Sisters airs on Sundays from April 26, 8.30pm, on Investigation Discovery.