November 5, 1988, right before 10 p.m. a bleeding David Greene, who had turned 31 that day, knocked on his neighbor Evelyn Drake’s door. When she answered the door, David collapsed on her floor and pleaded for help. ‘
His childhood friend Sharon Halstead had just shot him, his wife, and his baby son because she thought angels told her to do it.
Snapped Season 25, episode 7 deals with the horrifying story of Sharon Halstead who not only destroyed lives with her deadly attacks, but pinned the blame for her vicious acts on her young sons.
The night of the attack
While David Greene lay bleeding on his neighbor’s floor, his wife Lynn (32) was dead in their home and their young son Nathaniel was shot, but still alive.
Lynn had been shot twice at point-blank range: once in the head, and once in the chest. Baby Nathaniel was shot in the spinal cord and almost didn’t make it. He did pull through but is paralyzed for the rest of his life.
David was shot in the back near his left shoulder, which injured a nerve. Parts of the bullet ended up in his lung and elsewhere in his chest. Doctors didn’t remove the bullet because they feared trying to remove it would do more damage to his body. David remembers feeling like he was in a bad dream he couldn’t wake up from.
David suffered from a lot of remorse about fleeing the home where his wife died, but if he had not survived the attack police may have never found the perpetrator.
When detectives made it to David’s hospital room, he told them that the Greene family was attacked right after they had just returned home from David’s parents’ house after celebrating his birthday. They were quietly preparing for bed and baby Nathaniel was having a snack in his high chair when they had an unexpected visit from their friends Deborah and Sharon Halstead and Sharon’s two children right before 10 p.m.
Although Grants Pass is a small town, it’s crime rate is higher than most small towns because of its location on the I-5 highway between San Francisco, CA and Seatle, WA.
Because of this, it made sense that this could be a brutal slaying from a drifter. However, police started finding clues that suggested otherwise. For example, someone had written “Trust in Jesus” on the bathroom walls in red lipstick.
Another clue is that Lynn’s purse was missing. They also found Lynn’s diary, which gave them information about religious rituals and apocalyptic prophesies about a battle between good and evil that their prayer group thought they had to fight. Their prayer group, which included sisters Sharon and Deborah Halstead, also thought they could speak to angels.
They would get into a circle and one person would say they were speaking to angels. Others in the group would offer up their problems to this person, who would give advice, seemingly from the angel. Usually, the words from the “angel” were comforting and inspiring, but eventually, things took a dark turn when Sharon told the group that her 9-year-old son Leo was an oracle.
David and Lynn Greene were concerned about Leo’s messages because they seemed “outrageous.” The Halstead sisters thought that Leo had a special power to identify people who were possessed by evil.
They thought that when Leo identified someone as evil, they were then free to steal from these people, or even “eliminate them.” When the Greenes brought up their concerns about this to the Halsteads they disappeared from their lives for a while.
They reappeared on November 4, 1988 the day before the attack. Lynn believed that they stole her purse during this visit. When they showed up the following night, November 5, they asked to go to the bathroom.
Lynn was suspicious of them, so she followed them into the bathroom and saw one of the children writing “Trust in Jesus” on the wall. Freaked out by this, Lynn asked the Halsteads to leave.
Deborah then grabbed the phone so they couldn’t call out, and Sharon pointed a gun at them. Her son Harry shouted that the gun was loaded. David’s first thought was that he had to tell someone, so he made a run for the door. Sharon shot him while he was leaving out the back door. He would hear them shooting Lynn as he escaped.
David was injured, but he could still make it to his neighbor Evelyn’s to seek help.
A little back story
David Greene was born in California on November 5, 1957, as part of a strict Seventh-day Adventist family. Seventh-day Adventists were founded in 1844 based on belief in taking seriously the entire Bible. It’s exclusionary of anything that is not found in the Bible and has strict dietary rules. They also tend to look at the world in a very black-and-white, good-and-evil way, ignoring the gray areas of life that most people incorporate into their worldview despite their religious background.
He met his future wife Lynn Sapienza in chemistry class at Seventh-day Adventist University La Sierra University in Riverside, California. She was Roman Catholic, but the couple bonded over the similarities of their beliefs.
After graduation, David moved to Grants Pass, Oregan and they had a long-distance relationship for a while. On April 12, 1981, they got married. David and Lynn joined a prayer group led by David’s father, and soon became a leader in the group.
At some point, David thought that part of their spiritual mission was to help a couple of his childhood friends who had recently moved to Oregon: Deborah and Sharon Halstead. Both families were part of four generations of Seventh-day Adventists.
Unlike the Greens, the Halsteads had drifted away from their faith. At age 27, Sharon defied her family had eloped with a blacksmith named Tex Shively, a man over twice her age and who was not religious. They had two sons: Harry and Leo, but divorced in 1984. That’s when Sharon and her sons moved to Grants Pass, Oregon to be near to her parents.
Sharon’s parents had actually moved to the small Oregon town because of David and Lynn Greene. Around the same time that Sharon moved her sister, Deborah also moved to Grants Pass because she was becoming disillusioned with her secretarial jobs in Hollywood. She moved in with Sharon and her sons.
In 1985 David and Lynn had their son Nathaniel, and at that time their prayer group, which included Sharona and Deborah, was thriving. They had no idea that their comfortable and loving life would be destroyed by their friends and some of the beliefs they had developed in the prayer group had nothing to do with Seventh-day Adventist doctrine.
The Halsteads had killed someone else two days before
Two days before the shooting, Deborah and Sharon’s brother Michael Halstead had called 911 because someone had ransacked his apartment. They threw the contents of his fridge all over the floor and wrote “You’re dead Michael, J.C.” on his walls. Michael, who lived on a farm, checked on his fellow ranchhand, 58-year-old Marston Lemke and found him dead in his trailer.
At first the “J.C.” initials were a mystery, but sfter the shooting at the Greene residence, detectives determined that they probably stood for “Jesus Christ.”
They found Deborah, Sharon, and Sharon’s sons, 9-year-old Leo and 12-year-old Harry, at their home. The boys spoke to police about how Leo was told by the women that he could talk to angels and God. They let the detectives know that Leo had never said that he could see and hear angels, but that this had been suggested to him by the adults in his life.
AFter Leo was told he could speak to angels, the Halsteads’ life started to revolve around Leo and his supposed special powers. The Halstead sisters believed that people had “demons” in them, making them “totaled,” and if you were “totaled” you were fair game to be robbed and killed.
The police then linked the Halsteads to a number of crimes around town, including robberies and tire slashing. Eventually, the boys’ mother and aunt convinced them that their uncle Michael and the Greene family were “totaled” and therefore needed to die.
They said that when they went to Michael’s house to kill him, Sharon Halstead was disappointed that he wasn’t there. She instructed the boys to trash his place. Then, they went to his neighbor’s house where they witnessed their mom shoot Marston Lemke.
Harry remembers that Marston ask his mother why she was shooting him. Sharon didn’t answer, but continued to shoot him until he was dead. The women then stole the red pickup truck from the farm.
Then, they made plans to attack the Greenes. They stole Lynn’s person the next day, on November 4. The day after that they returned to kill them. Harry says his mother was convinced they were possessed by demons.
After Sharon brutally shot the Greenes in cold blood, she went to McDonald’s and then went home and went to bed.
The boys were placed in foster care after they spoke to the police about their terrifying experiences with their mom and aunt.
What happened to Sharon and Deboarh Halstaed?
The Halsteads were initially going to enter an insantiy defense. On May 12, 1989 Deborah changed her plea to “guilty of conspiracy.” She was sentenced to 20 years in prison with the possibility of parole in only 9 years.
On August 16, 1989 Sharon made a plea deal. She pleads guilty to “attempted murder, murder, and aggravated murder,” but she still blamed her 9-year-old son Leo for convincing her to do it.
Harry says that this wasn’t true, that the boys never wanted to kill anyone. Leo is incredulous that his mother put this on him because she pulled the trigger.
As part of her deal, Sharon avoided the death penalty. She was, however sentenced to the maximum sentence of 75 years and will never get out of prison. She still hasn’t apologized to her sons for what she put them through.
David remembers his wife Lynn as a “loving, sweet, gentle person.” She was also “creative” and could have “done so much good as a teacher.” He doesn’t think there’s an answer to anyone of this, but this horrifying experience has convinced him that “evil exists.”