Cold Case KO, The Unsolved Case of William Sharkey

What do you get when you cross a boxer with a blazing car? You get a 24-year-old cold case.


Austyn Mizgorski, Author & Historian

I: Introduction

And we’re back again baby, Season 2, Episode 3! Welcome back to Tea Time with a Side of Crime, the Hamptonian’s one and only true crime series. As the air gets chillier and the temperature drops, I thought it’d be a fun idea to cover something as equally cold. You know them, you love them — cold cases. Cases that, as far as we know, are left unsolved. There’s this level of excitement present when researching a case that has no conclusive ending. Some people love cases that have a clear killer and clear sentencing. Unfortunately, we aren’t always going to catch our killers, so I thought it’d be fun to serve up a case to my Talbot peers that is up to interpretation. Subverting the expectations, if you will, since I serve to make people angry. I was scrounging around in my secret crime lair, looking through manilla file after manilla file. I wanted something juicy, something oozing with potential, and most importantly, something flat out weird. Thus, my case hunt lead me to discovering this hidden gem of a cold case from 24 years ago.

This isn’t just any other case, no dear reader, this is probably the strangest homicide case I’ve ever covered. Then again, not all details are crystal clear, so expect a lot of speculation moving forward. This was so bizarre that there was no way I wasn’t going to cover it. A guy found in the trunk of his own burnt up car? That screams Tea Time episode potential. Not only is this case juicy, but if we manage to crack it, perhaps we can give closure to the victim’s family. I don’t normally get real like this, but I take this job very seriously. Sure, I joke around a topic that is honestly quite brutal, but I care so much about the cases I cover. My whole heart goes out to all those affected by this disappearance, and I hope to possibly shed some theories as to what happened to this missing man. Me getting sappy aside, let’s dive in, shall we?

II: Our Contender: William Michael Sharkey

I suppose we can start our deep dive off with our victim, since that’s your only real starting point in a cold case. While Sharkey isn’t a Pennsylvania native, coming from New York, he was still in the state when his crime scene was discovered. William Michael Sharkey was once a professional boxer from Queens and once his career had ended, he chose to take residence in PA’s Pocono Mountain area with his wife and son. According to the records I found from, Sharkey had quite the career under his belt. Starting his career in ’74, out of 30 professional matches, he won 22 of them.  As soon as Sharkey entered the fray, he managed to accumulate a winning streak of 15 before being knocked out.

A postcard of sorts featuring a picture of Sharkey in his boxing era. Photo taken from

Unfortunately, all wasn’t too bright for Mr. Sharkey. Once he got his final KO at the fists of one Frank Bruno, him and his family decided that it was time to call it quits. Leaving New York, they headed to Pennsylvania, settling in Pocono County. At the age of 49 on October 24th, 1998, his corpse was discovered in. . . quite an odd manner. He was locked within the trunk of his own burnt vehicle; no source of mine could tell what kind of car he was driving. His car was left on the side of National Park Drive, present in Upper Mount Bethel Township in Monroe County — 16 miles from his house. Police state the car was intentionally set on fire, leaving his corpse burnt. Beforehand though, he had been shot multiple times, thus the belief he was already dead before he was placed in the trunk. Perhaps the killer was trying to destroy the body? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, and just dive right into the theories.

III: Break Time

Put your aluminum caps on my dears, because it’s time to get theorizing. Let’s all be frank; there’s no way that Sharkey had to have done that himself. Sure, he might’ve been a strong guy (he’s a boxer afterall), but no human being can shoot themselves at least twice, set their own vehicle on fire, then lock themselves in the trunk. What purpose would Sharkey have to do that to himself? Maybe his final KO got to him, though that seems highly unlikely. It’s plausible, however, I don’t buy it. It’s much more likely someone did that to him, but who?

That’s where things get much, much harder — I can’t tell you who. There are no major suspects that were listed on any source I could find on the case of William Michael Sharkey. Normally, cold cases at least have one or two, but the information on Sharkey’s bizarre murder was so scarce that I could hardly find any details. My theory, however, remains a possibility. There’s no way that he could pull that off by himself, so somebody had to have killed him. There isn’t much to work with here, unfortunately. I’m just gonna wing it and come up with a theory that, while probably incorrect in many ways, may give us an idea of what may have happened.

III-I: My Personal Theory

Sharkey’s body was supposedly 16 miles away from his Pocono County residence, past the Monroe County line. He could’ve either been coming home from work, or was perhaps lured to Monroe County by the killer. There’s also always the possibility of the car being simply left there, and Sharkey may have been skilled somewhere else but I’m taking creative liberties here. Whoever killed him was one of two things; insane or genius. They knew what they were gonna do and they did it without hesitation. The sources I found had no information about the damage to Sharkey’s vehicle other than the fact it was burnt, so we cannot be sure if he was shot while he was in the driver seat or if he was shot outside of the car. Either way, Sharkey gets shot; now we gotta hide the body. The killer most likely chooses to hide it in Sharkey’s trunk rather than his own car since. . . well, common sense. If he’s left in his own car, that gives a sense of ambiguity that may clear the killer’s name. What better way to destroy the evidence by burning it? Thus, Sharkey’s car was set on fire. My theory was the killer’s intent was to try and destroy the body, perhaps even burning off the fingerprints so authorities couldn’t tell it’s Sharkey. After all, his boxing career must’ve been known by at least some.

Thus, my (most likely) incorrect theory is complete. There’s several other theories that can be tossed around, such as accidental drive-by shootings, boxing rivalries taken a smidge too far, and so on and so forth. While this is merely speculation, I implore you all to do some research as well. I’d love to hear what you all find, and perhaps we can solve Sharkey’s murder as a collective. You all are so, so smart, so let’s put our detective brains to work. If you or someone else you know have information about William Sharkey’s murder, please contact the Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers Toll Free at 1-800-4PA-TIPS (8477) or online at Let’s bring the Sharkey’s closure.

IV: Ding Ding Ding!

Phew boy, this was a hard one. It’s my hope that, by publicizing a case that doesn’t have much information, I can start the relaunch of the investigation. I cannot fathom how hard it is for Sharkey’s friends and families to have gone 24 years with no sense of closure from the death of their beloved.  I send all my love and prayers their way, and I plan to help them find the answer they’ve been seeking for so long. If I find more information on this case, perhaps I’ll make a sequel for this episode; a Tea Time first. Feel free to pitch your own theories in the comments, I wanna see those theory gears grinding! With that aside. . .

This has been Tea Time with a Side of Crime, where Pennsylvania’s most gruesome tales are served with a complementary cup of tea. Thanks for reading.