1982 Murder Investigation of 16-Year-Old Sharon Thor Reopened


Sharon Thor.jpg
Sharon left for ballet lessons and was never seen again alive

It was 27 years ago that 16-year-old Sharon Thor was slain after preparing to leave her home in Franklin Township, New Jersey, for one of her twice-weekly ballet lessons.  When she left at 5:30 p.m. on October 26, 1982, she was never seen again alive.

Prior to leaving home that evening, Sharon received a telephone call and appeared to be pleased to hear from the caller. The conversation was brief, but it was obvious that she had wanted her privacy with the caller — she took the corded phone as far as it would reach, to the stairway that led to the cellar, so that her parents could not hear…

As soon as she hung up the phone, she told her mother that she would be
right back as she rushed outside to the street. She climbed into the
passenger side of a vehicle that had pulled up in front of her house,
according to a child who had been playing in his front yard.

According to the young witness, the vehicle that Sharon had gotten into was occupied by two white males, and at least one had dark hair. The witness also said the car was noisy, as if it had a loud muffler. When she failed to return home to go to her ballet lesson, her family notified Franklin Township police and a missing person report was taken.

Three days later, a team of searchers found Sharon’s body discarded in a wooded area about a quarter-mile from her home. It was obvious that an effort had been made to conceal her. An autopsy showed that her cause of death had been from blunt force trauma — she had been beaten do death about an hour after she left home. A bloody cinderblock and a piece of lumber found near her body were later determined to have been the weapons used to kill her.

Although the area had been posted as off-limits to private vehicles, it was popular with teenagers who liked to party and socialize, and was used by hunters and those who liked to ride dirt bikes.

Because of new information, the case was recently reopened by Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne J. Forrest.  According to Forrest, new leads now suggest that there may have been more than one perpetrator and that Sharon may have known her attacker or attackers. The new leads also suggest that the men seen picking her up were likely in their late teens or early 20s, and probably lived in the Franklin Township area.

The newly reopened investigation is being handled by the Major Crimes Squad of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, the Franklin Township Police Department and the FBI.  Crime Stoppers of Somerset County is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment(s) of the person(s) responsible for the slaying of Sharon Thor.  Anyone with information about the case should call the Crime Stopper’s Tip Line at 888-577-8477.  Tipsters can also provide their information online at www.888577tips.org or www.scpo.net.