Tabatha Lynch, a 38-year-old insurance adjuster from Tulsa, tragically passed away from natural causes, leaving behind her four children, aged 4 to 18, as well as a brother, nephews, and nieces. The entire family was grappling with the untimely loss when an unexpected and unsettling incident unfolded during Tabatha’s wake.
Prior to the arrival of other mourners, Tabatha’s immediate family gathered at the funeral home to privately pay their respects. However, as they approached the viewing area, they noticed an unfamiliar woman standing beside the casket. The woman claimed to be a skilled makeup artist hired by the funeral home to provide the final touches to the deceased. Expressing condolences, she requested that the family step out briefly to allow her to complete her work. When they returned, the woman had vanished.
Shortly thereafter, Robert Gardner, the funeral director, heard a scream emanating from Tabatha’s viewing room. Assuming it to be an outpouring of grief, he initially dismissed it. However, his perception changed when two girls rushed into his office, visibly horrified, and recounted an unsettling encounter. They revealed that the mysterious “makeup artist” had pulled a clump of hair from Tabatha’s head, dropping it on the floor in front of the casket. They also observed smudged makeup on Tabatha’s face, indicating a further disturbance of her appearance.
Tabatha’s mother, Charlotte Wheeler, entered the room next and informed Mr. Gardner that the stranger had slashed her daughter’s face from the hairline to the tip of her nose. “Her face was covered in smudged makeup and lipstick, and her hair was disheveled,” she lamented. The police were promptly summoned to investigate the matter.
Upon arrival, the authorities confirmed the family’s claims—evidencing the cut, and the hair on the floor—yet found no significant leads regarding the identity of the mysterious makeup artist. It wasn’t until later, during the funeral parlor’s attempt to restore Tabatha’s appearance, that the full extent of the woman’s desecration came to light.
In addition to altering Tabatha’s face, the perpetrator had gruesomely removed her breasts and a toe, while even absconding with her shoes. The missing body parts remained elusive.
Following standard procedure, the police proceeded to Tabatha Lynch’s apartment for further investigation, where they coincidentally encountered the very same “makeup artist” who had previously tampered with the casket. Apparently unsatisfied with her earlier actions, she had broken into Tabatha’s apartment to take personal mementos.
During a search, the police discovered a folding knife containing hair matching Tabatha’s, as well as scissors, a box cutter, and various cosmetics in the possession of the culprit, identified as Shayna Lauren Sims from Miami. A subsequent background check provided insight into her motives: Sims believed that her husband had cheated on her with Tabatha and sought revenge, which Tabatha had previously refused. The two women were known to have a complicated relationship, often engaging in rivalry.
Sims’ defense attorney intended to pursue an insanity plea, citing her history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, neither the doctors nor the judge were convinced. After a forensic psychologist determined Sims to be mentally competent, the trial proceeded as planned.
Sims faced multiple charges, including larceny, knowingly concealing stolen property (related to the stolen shoes), first-degree burglary (for deceitfully entering the apartment), unauthorized dissection, and unlawful removal of body parts from a corpse. She pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The prosecution received some support from a separate case pending against Sims at the time of her arrest. Two weeks prior, Sims had pled guilty to an assault and battery charge for aggressively harassing a woman named.