By her senior year, Sharon Marshall was among the top students in her class at Forest Park High School near Atlanta, Georgia. She was an avid reader, studied hard, served as a Lt. Colonel in the ROTC, and was focused on winning a full scholarship to Georgia Tech University, where she would study aerospace engineering. No one questioned why this was the fourth high school in the last year alone for this blonde, blue-eyed, and good-natured young woman.
Sharon Marshall's story is one of the most baffling cases in the annals of American law enforcement. Sharon's excellent behavior and grades kept anyone from examining the stranger aspects and conflicting stories of her personal life. She insisted that she arrive home by 4:30 PM every evening to cook, clean, and care for her ailing father. She told some her mother had died of cancer, and others she was killed in a car accident. The provocative clothes she wore did not match her wholesome persona. Sharon was carrying horrible secrets about the murderous felon predator she called her father. In truth, she knew little of her past, real parents, or the very different life she could have led.
She was unable to escape the man who raised her as his daughter. If Sharon made a friend, or if questions were raised about, the father and daughter they changed identities and moved - to Oklahoma City, Ok; Louisville, KY; Atlanta, GA; Phoenix, AZ; Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL, New Orleans, LA, and Tulsa, OK - keeping Sharon isolated. Later, Sharon had a baby boy, Michael, born into the reign of terror that seemed to have no end.
Before the Missing Children Act of 1982 was signed into law, missing children were not considered a government priority, and there was no national registry for local governments to share information about children lost and found. A dedicated FBI agent and law enforcement officials, reveal Sharon's story and the heinous crimes committed by her "father," Franklin Delano Floyd.
And thanks to the work of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, information has been discovered that could lead to Sharon's identity. If Sharon's story increases public awareness about the plight of the thousands of missing and exploited children reported each year, her tragic life will not have been in vain.
A Beautiful Child by Matt Birkbeck -- It's the true story of Sharon Marshall, a gifted student in Georgia in the 1980's who lived alone with her father, Warren. Only her name wasn't Sharon and Warren wasn't her father. He was a murderous felon named Franklin Delano Floyd who kidnapped Sharon when she was a toddler and raised her as his daughter. It's a truly remarkable story, one of the most bizarre in the anals of law enforcement and the missing children movement. Who, in fact, was she?
Matt Birkbeck is a veteran journalist and author of A Deadly Secret: The Strange Disappearance of Kathie Durst, the inside story of Robert Durst , heir to a New York real estate empire suspected of several murders. Birkbeck's recent work has appeared in The New York Times , Reader's Digest , People, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among others. He lives in Pennsylvania.