Shelley Boggio was only 14-years-old when she was murdered in Indian Rocks Beach in Florida in 1985. Two men she’d spent the last night of her life with — men in their 30s — were convicted of killing her — Jack Pearcy and James Dailey.
Pearcy initially plead not guilty, but eventually changed his plea to guilty and testified against Dailey to avoid the death penalty. Dailey has maintained his innocence for three and a half decades.
Dailey’s case was picked up by the Innocence Project who is working to prove he did not kill the teen. According to the Innocence Project, “no eyewitnesses or forensic evidence has connected Dailey to the crime.
“The case against him depended largely on unreliable jailhouse informant testimony, including that of Paul Skalnik who has faced charges of fraud, grand theft, and child sexual abuse himself.”
But jailhouse informants weren’t the only ones who said Dailey stabbed and drowned Boggio to death. Pearcy also told prosecutors it was Dailey.
Pearcy is the only other person known to be alone with Boggio when she was killed in the early morning hours of May 6. Yet years later Pearcy retracted, saying he was the one who murdered Boggio…and then he changed his story again saying it was Dailey.
Boggio had been with Dailey and several others that night as the group drank and smoked pot, bouncing around from the beach to a bar where Boggio her twin sister, Stacey and another friend, Stephanie Forsythe were turned away for not having i.d. They ended up at Pearcy and Dailey’s home for a little while before going back out.
Stacey and Stephanie had gone home later in the evening, but Boggio stayed with the group, borrowing a fake i.d from Pearcy’s girlfriend, Gayle Bailey, according to court records. Boggio, Bailey, Pearcy and Dailey went to Jerry’s Rock Disco, where Bailey would tell investigators that Boggio danced with Pearcy.
It was around 2 or 3 a.m. when Boggio found herself alone with Dailey and Pearcy parked at Indian Rocks Beach, according to court records. Yet whether Dailey was really there at that point at all is up for debate, and those that believe Dailey wasn’t there are working to prove his innocence.
There was a window of time in which Pearcy and Boggio took a friend to a payphone and dropped him off there, according to court records. He walked home after about an hour on the phone, he said, so Pearcy would’ve been alone with Boggio during that time.
Sometime later Pearcy went back to the house and woke up Dailey to go back out and have some more drinks and hang out. It was Pearcy’s testimony that Shelley was still with them.
Pearcy Told Police The Entire Murder Was Dailey’s Doing
According to Pinellas County court records, Pearcy told police in 1985 that Dailey was “necking” with Boggio in the backseat of his car prior to her brutal murder. According to Pearcy:
“When we left the Beach Pub, both of them got in the back seat. He told me, “Let‘s go down there.” They were necking. Then we pulled down in there and then they got out of the car. And I remember I just sat there drinking a wine cooler and kicked my seat back and was listening to the radio and eventually remember hearing a noise.
I remember hearing somebody and looking over and Jimmy D. was sitting on top of Shelly. And it looked like Shelly, she was face down. I got out of the car. I could see Jimmy D’s back and I could see his right arm making an up and down motion. And he was just kinda on his knees or sitting on her back or something like that.
At this point I seen he was holding her up, sitting on her back. She was facing down. He had a hold of her hair. I could see him making a stabbing motion. I could see the knife in his hand. She was holding onto his hand or to the knife.
I went up and tried to grab him. I remember trying to grab him and somehow went off the bank in front of him and into some bushes. Then crawled up out of there and by this time she was turned over and I tried to reach for her but he grabbed her, grabbed her feet and started pulling her away, back behind the car.
I could see she had jeans on but they were pulled down around her knees. I come back up and remember trying to grab her and that is when he tried to pull her because she was only a few feet from the edge of the bank where I had fallen over. And he was dragging her off by her feet.
And I come up over the bank and remember seeing her. She was all bloody. Her whole face and neck and the upper part of her body was covered with blood.
That is when I started throwing up. I got sick. It took me a couple of minutes to get done vomiting. I did see him stick her body somewhere at that point after I was throwing up when it started over there again.
Then he started dragging her again and fell down to one knee or something like that — just tripped and fell down. I was still having convulsions, dry heaves. I was still throwing up or whatever.
They were already in the water. I could see him waist up or see him in the water. I could see something by him in the water which was her, I’m sure.
And then at this point went around and got in my car. I think might have thrown up right by the car before got in it. I was still being sick — couldn‘t get in yet. Then I got in and started the car. The way I had pulled in couldn’t drive on straight out. You have to back up towards where he had drug her to the point and remember backing up and I, think he may have jumped in when backed the car up there.
When we were driving away, he had a knife and a shirt one in each hand. I just started driving out of there. I cursed him and cussed at him…I just called him a son of a bitch or something like that and he just said, “Sorry, Jack.”
I remember saying something about, “You know, you killed her, and they electrocute people down here for that.” I said, “You know, you killed me, too.” And he just was sorry. It was like sorry I got you into this.
In 1993 Pearcy Gave a Sworn Statement Saying He Lied About Dailey Killing Boggio Only to Retract That Statement in 2020
In a case that is already muddied by hearsay and a lack of forensic evidence, Pearcy changed his story and admitted that he lied several times.
In 1993 he gave a sworn statement saying that he lied about Dailey killing Boggio saying:
All the facts are the same except for in my statement I said Shelly was present in the car when came back and picked Jim up, which she wasn‘t, and I said Jim, her, and I left and then said made a statement as to what Jim had done, exonerating myself, which all of it, it was just a self-serving statement to exonerate myself…at that time, Jim wasn’t even in custody. I was in custody and they were moving to charge me and was just trying to qet around it all, lay the blame somewhere else.
Those who are trying to prove Dailey’s innocence or at least get him off of death row are working to compel Pearcy to testify to that 1993 change of story, but he has consistently refused.
In December 2019 Propublica reported that Pearcy signed an affidavit which stated, “James Dailey had nothing to do with the murder of Shelly Boggio. I committed the crime alone. James Dailey was back at the house when I drove Shelly Boggio to the place where I ultimately killed her.”
In February 2020 Pearcy attorneys interviewed Pearcy again to have him state he killed Boggio alone. This time, he said, “I didn’t kill Shelly. I didn’t stab Shelly. didn’t know Shelly was going to be hurt in any way, shape, or form. I didn’t move Shelly’s body,” according to court records.
Pearcy told attorneys, “Yeah, I lied plenty of times but told you why did it, to keep y’all working, digging up stuff.”
Pearcy claimed he changed his story so that investigators would keep looking for clues that would help his own case. Other times he said he recanted that Dailey killed Boggio to get him off of death row.
When pressed to testify about the truth of what happened to the 7th grader in 1985 he said, “The truth that he did it, yeah, I’ll give that testimony. No, would —— really wouldn’t even do that. I’m not going to testify against him. Once they convicted me of a crime didn’t commit, I’m not testifying against him to get somebody else for the same crime.”
Pearcy is now 65 and serving a life sentence at the Sumpter Correctional Institute in Central Florida.
Dailey, now 74, remains on death row at Florida’s Union Correctional Institute after his November 7, 2019 execution was stayed, Propublica reported. His defense team is still working to get his sentence overturned.
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