1978 Closed case of fmr. BYU student reopened

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The Provo Police Department is reopening the 1978 case of Marla Scharp.

“Her loss was something that I never got over,” said Leah Scharp, Marla’s sister. “None of our family ever got over.”

Scharp’s family made the announcement Saturday on the steps of the department.

“Somebody killed my sister and they need to be brought to justice,” said Scharp.

The 26-year-old was raped and murdered inside her apartment on June 29, 1978. An auto shop and parking lot now sit in the area of 45 West 200 South in Provo where Scharp’s home was once located.

“I had never believed that Henry Lucas committed the murder,” said Valerie Colgain, Marla’s cousin.

Earlier this year, Colgain reached out to the Utah Cold Case Coalition with her doubts.

Now at the core of the case, a unique beer tap left at the scene.

“This side of the beer tap is six inches long, said Karra Porter of the Utah Cold Case Coalition. “Had the Budweiser on one side, and Bud on the other.”

This evidence is part of details the coalition says led it to the conclusion
infamous serial killer Henry Lee Lucas didn’t commit Marla’s rape and murder as well as nearly 100 others.

They include the 1980 murder of Janelle Hanna Peet’s father in Texas.

“He was shot four times,” said Peet. “He owned a convenience store, and it was at closing. They tried to make it look like a robbery, but there was still money under the shelf, under the register. He still had his wedding ring on, money in his pockets. It seems like it was personal, and I would like to know who did it and why.”

Peet agreed to be at Saturday’s press conference to help bring awareness to other cases the coalition is disputing.

“The Cold Case Coalition is calling on law enforcement agencies throughout the United States to please reopen and re-examine any case that was closed with a Henry Lee Lucas confession,” said Porter.

According to documents included in a media handout from the coalition, police in 27 states have confirmed killings by Lucas.

Lucas died in a Texas prison from natural causes on March 12, 2001. 

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