Shelly Boggio was a 14-year-old girl who made the fatal mistake of running with the wrong crowd on the night of May 5, 1985. It was a Sunday, a school night, so most 7th graders would’ve been home, but according to the Tampa Bay Times, Shelly, who was older than most of the other kids in her class, had been chronically truant.
“She missed 67 days of school, then dropped out,” the paper said.
Shelly had moved with her father, Frank Boggio, her twin sister, Stacey, and their older sister, Sherry, to Indian Rocks Beach from Michigan in 1984 with nothing but the clothes they wore, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
It didn’t take long for the girls to make lots of friends and acquaintances from around the beach community, so when Shelly, Stacey, and their friend Stephanie Forsythe went out hitchhiking that Sunday afternoon, they were familiar with the men who picked them up.
Two of those men, James Dailey and Jack Pearcy, would be convicted of Shelly’s murder, and three decades later, Dailey’s case would be taken on by the Innocence Project who say there isn’t any forensic evidence linking him to the murder and his wrongful conviction was based on Pearcy’s and three jailhouse informants’ testimony.
Regardless of who did it, a young girl ended up brutally murdered after a night of partying with people she knew.
Here is a timeline of Shelly Boggio’s final hours:
Shelly Spent Her Last Day Alive at the Beach With Friends & Her Sisters
According to Shelly’s sisters’ depositions, the 14-year-old had a full day of friends and fun. During the first part of the day, Sherry said she and Shelly went to the beach at about 11 a.m. with a group of several friends who normally met up at the beach on Sundays. Sherry said she nor her sister were drinking and Shelly left around 3 p.m.
From there, Shelly went to Stephanie Forsythe’s house to meet up with her twin, Stacey, according to Stacey’s deposition. The girls went hitchhiking around the beach, grabbed some food at an A&W, and were picked up by a stranger asking if they could get him a bag of “reefer.”
The girls said yes and had the man drive them to an apartment complex where he gave them $30 to procure the pot, but the teens ran off with the guy’s money, splitting it three ways — $10 each — Stacey said. It was right after that when Pearcy, Dailey, and a friend of Pearcy’s who was visiting from out of town named Oza Shaw were driving by and picked the girls up.
Shelley and her sister, Sherry, knew Dailey and Pearcy and had hung out with them before, but Stacey hadn’t. According to Stacey’s testimony, Pearcy had even stopped by her house before once looking for Sherry. Frank answered the door and told Pearcy, then 30, he was too old to be hanging out with 14-year-olds. He never went back to the house, she said.
The 3 Girls Hung Out With the Men For Several Hours Before 2 of Them Went Their Own Ways Leaving Shelly Alone With Her Killers
According to what Stacey told investigators, after being picked up by Pearcy, Dailey and Shaw they stopped at a convenience store to buy a couple of 6-packs of wine coolers and beers. They drove around, drinking and smoking pot until Shaw asked to be dropped off back at Pearcy and Dailey’s house where he was staying.
From there, Dailey, Pearson, and the three girls went near a bar called The Driftwood and hung out on the beach drinking and talking. By now, it was dark, Stacey said.
During that time, Stacey told investigators neither men hit on Shelly but they both came on to her. She said they flirted and she described Dailey as “acting weird.”
The group ran out of alcohol and tried to go to a bar called the Quarterdeck, but were told to leave because the girls didn’t have I.D’s, so they all went back to Pearcy and Dailey’s house where they smoked more pot and watched an Alfred Hitchcock movie for a little while.
Stacey said it was about 10 p.m. then. She described Shelly’s behavior at that time as “bubbly.”
The crew wasn’t done partying yet. Someone got the idea to go to Jerry’s Rock Disco. Stacey and Stephanie didn’t want to go, and Shaw wasn’t interested either. But Pearcy’s pregnant girlfriend, Gayle Bailey was in, and so was Shelly, according to court documents.
Pearcy, Dailey, Bailey and Shelly dropped Stacey and Stephanie off at home and went to the disco, where the fake I.D. worked.
According to Bailey, Shelly danced with Pearcy at the club, but not Dailey, court documents say. When the group left they went back to Pearcy and Dailey’s house, where Bailey also lived. When they got there Shaw woke up and asked for a ride to the payphone.
According to court documents Shaw said, “When he woke up Jack Pearcy was leaving with the girl. He asked Pearcy for a ride to the telephone. He got in the car with Jack Pearcy and the girl and they took him to the telephone and dropped him off. He stated he was on the phone for about one hour.”
Shaw walked back to the house when he was done using the phone.
It’s unknown where Shelly and Pearcy were during that time, and Dailey’s defense claims that’s actually when she was killed. Dailey was not in the car with them when they went to the phone.
Yet according to Pearcy, at some point late in the night, he came back home and went to Dailey’s room to get him to go back out, and Dailey agreed. Pearcy’s story, and the one that the courts believed, was that Shelly was with them for this last outing and that’s when she was killed.
Bailey and Shaw told investigators that when both men came home at about 2 or 3 a.m. Dailey’s jeans were soaking wet from the butt down and he was carrying his shirt. Pearcy was not wet.
The Only Tangible Evidence of What Happened to Shelly Came From Her Autopsy Which Showed She Fought ‘Frantically’ for Her Life
Dailey has always denied killing Shelly, but Pearcy changed his initial plea from not guilty to guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. He also testified in the 1980s that Dailey was the one who killed Shelly, only to retract that charge many times in the subsequent years saying he was the lone killer of the teen, according to court records. As late as February 2020 he would change his story again, denying it was him who brutally killed the girl.
What is known is that “Boggio was found floating in the intercoastal waterway of the Route 688 bridge in Indian Rooks Beach,” court records say.
According to the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s testimony, Shelly had fought hard for her life:
The scene revealed that she had been stabbed numerous times in the hands, abdomen and neck and had drowned sometime during the early morning hours of May 6. Later examination by Dr. Joan Wood, Pinellas County Medical Examiner revealed that the victim had suffered at least 31 stab wounds, 18 of them defensive in nature, some having gone completely through her hands. Dr. Wood would later testify that these were the worst defensive wounds she has observed in her career as a Medical Examiner.
The evidence showed the victim fought frantically for her life…Dr. Wood indicated that the ultimate cause of death was drowning…This is significant in that the victim after having endured over 30 stab wounds, remained alive and was thereafter discarded into the water to drown after already having suffered excruciating pain.
While all signs point to rape or attempted rape — her body was found naked with her panties still at the crime scene — it’s not certain that Shelly was sexually violated that night. Medical examiners found no physical evidence of a rape, yet said that some of that could’ve been washed away in the water.
Thirty-five years after Shelly’s murder, her sister, Kalli Boggio told 20/20 that they’ll never stop fighting for justice. Kalli said:
This whole thing has been the James Dailey show, the Jack Pearcy show. No, this is about Shelly Boggio and her life. Her life mattered and it still matters. And it will always matter. And I guarantee you, and I promise you, I promise everybody that me and my family will never stop until we see justice, and see that man go.