‘Like a nightmare’: Family grieves mother found dead at Cobb construction site

Credit: Family contributed photo

Credit: Family contributed photo

Deborah Moon had just gotten home with pizza for dinner earlier this month when she learned her youngest daughter had been found dead at a construction site in north Cobb County.

The body of 40-year-old Bartow County resident Amanda Sharpe, a mother to a 14-year-old boy, was found Oct. 14 at the Ajax Construction area in Acworth. It was later discovered she died two days earlier at a motel in Kennesaw before being wrapped in hotel bedding and taken to the construction area about five miles away, according to investigators.

Moon didn’t have her phone with her when she made the pizza run, so it was family who took the call from police. When they broke the news to her, she called them liars.

“I said, ‘No, she’s not (dead)! Why do y’all tell me that?’” she recalled. “(They) told me, ‘No, Deborah. It’s true.’ I just started screaming. I didn’t know what to do. I cried and cried. It’s just — it’s like a nightmare.”

The youngest of three siblings, Sharpe had always been the caregiver of the family, her mother and niece Lacie Michelini said. She helped raise Michelini for a time, and she helped Moon care for multiple terminally ill family members over the years.

Credit: Family contributed photo

Credit: Family contributed photo

Being a stay-at-home mom, Sharpe didn’t get out much, her family said, but they became concerned about her behavior in recent months after she and her husband of 16 years separated. She was going out more and spending extended periods of time at friends’ houses without saying where she’d be. The family was worried she might be mixing with the wrong crowds and was too trusting of people she didn’t know.

“I think, as all of us, we end up wanting to get out of the house and explore a little bit,” Michelini said. “She had never been out before, and I think maybe she got a little (too) excited.”

Moon tried to warn her daughter to be more cautious.

“She would get mad at me and not want to talk to me,” Moon said. “I told her one day, I said, ‘Amanda, you’re gonna meet a stranger one of these days and they’re gonna hurt you. People are mean out here today.’”

Her fear became reality when she learned her daughter’s fate, though a cause and manner of death have not been determined.

“I’ve cried in every store I went into,” Moon said. “It bothers me that — is there something I could have done? I don’t know. I tried to tell her to stay away from people like that, but it didn’t work.”

One suspect, 27-year-old Jake Stephen Schell, has been arrested on suspicion that he moved Sharpe’s body to the construction site. He faces multiple charges, including concealing the death of another and tampering with evidence, but a murder charge is not among them. No others have been arrested in the case as of Thursday.

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Sharpe’s family said they didn’t know Schell, and they weren’t sure how long Sharpe had known him.

“It’s just a real big shock to everybody,” Michelini said. “It’s been hard to process or even try to grieve.”

Sharpe’s death has hit Michelini especially hard because she works at a restaurant not far from where the body was found.

“It started messing with me to think that that Friday — just to know that I actually passed her body headed to work ... (it) really bothered me,” she said, fighting back tears.

The family won’t know how Sharpe died for another few months as the medical examiner awaits more testing, they said.

Sharpe’s son, Layton Mitchell, has been staying with his grandparents, where he and his mother had been living, as the family focuses on raising enough money to lay Sharpe to rest. They’ve been holding a yard sale in Cartersville that they have promoted on social media and have organized a motorcycle ride and raffle for Nov. 12.

Her visitation will be Saturday from noon until 2 p.m. at Georgia Funeral Care on South Main Street in Acworth, followed by the funeral. Interment will be at Emerson City Cemetery.