HOUSTON — More than seven weeks after her naked body was found dumped on the side of a Houston road, authorities have confirmed that Instagram influencer Alexis Sharkey was strangled to death.
The death of the 26-year-old has been ruled a homicide, according to Michele Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
Sharkey, whose maiden name was Alexis Leigh Robinault, was found dead the morning of Nov. 28, more than 24 hours after she had last been seen or heard from by family, authorities said.
According to Houston police officials, Sharkey was found along the side of a road off an Interstate 10 service road about 17 miles west of downtown Houston.
Solid waste supervisor John Richardson told ABC 13 in Houston that one of his garbage truck drivers first spotted Sharkey.
“(The employee) called me and said, ‘Man, I think I see a body, but I’m for not sure, or a mannequin or something,’” Richardson told the news station in November. “He really didn’t know because he didn’t stop.”
Richardson told the man to continue his route. The supervisor and another worker drove out to the 1000 block of Red Haw Lane, where they confirmed that the driver had seen a body.
“So we’re looking, and we see feet,” Richardson said. “The feet were in the road.”
Friends told KHOU that Sharkey had spent Thanksgiving with them. They’d all planned to watch movies together that Saturday but she didn’t show up.
“She is attached to her phone. She is a social media queen. She is an influencer. She works from her phone,” one of her best friends, Tanya Ricardo, told the news station.
Sharkey’s friends’ and family’s worst fears were realized when her body was found. Sharkey’s mother, Stacey Robinault, told multiple media outlets that she believed her daughter was slain.
“I do. I do believe she was murdered,” Robinault told ABC 13 in November. “From what I’ve been able to gather, as well as a mother’s gut.
“I learned very young as a mom to trust my gut. It’s not let me down.”
Sharkey, the oldest of three daughters, grew up in Pennsylvania, Robinault told KPRC in Houston. After graduating from college with a biology degree, she planned to go to medical school but decided to take a year off.
That gap year “knocked her onto a different path,” her mother said. Sharkey moved to West Texas, where she met and married her husband. She also became a full-time social media influencer.
“She loved what she did,” Robinault said. “She had been working with an online company and was selling all health-based haircare and body-care products.”
Robinault told KPRC that she learned from her daughter’s husband, Tom Sharkey, and some of her friends that she was missing, and that the police had been notified.
“One friend said, ‘I ran over to her apartment and she’s not there, and we were supposed to meet up,’” Robinault told the news station. “When you start to hear these stories and you just know that’s not right, something’s wrong. She’s never that far away from her device; (she’s) standing up her friends; (her) husband doesn’t know where she is, all of that. All of that strikes fear.”
One friend, whose name was not disclosed, told ABC 13 in Houston that Alexis Sharkey had expressed her own fears for her safety during a trip together in October.
“She confided in me that night ... she (was) petrified,” the friend said. “This girl (was) scared for her life.”
It was unclear what Sharkey was afraid of, but friends said she and her husband had been having marital problems.
“Recently, she opened up to us about it, and divorce was being filed,” Ricardo told KHOU. “She was a very private person. She didn’t share a lot about what was going on at home.”
Sharkey’s body was found about three miles from the couple’s apartment, which Robinault told KPRC her daughter had left after an argument. She left her car at home and apparently had no identification with her when she was found.
Tom Sharkey mourned his wife on social media — and criticized those who believed he was involved in her death.
“You all should be ashamed of yourselves! I have been assisting the deputies and making phone calls to find out what happened to my wife,” he wrote on Facebook. “Next time, stop and think! And realize! You don’t know it all!”
He has since made his posts private.
Ricardo, who last spoke to Sharkey around 6 p.m. the day she vanished, lamented the way her friend was found.
“(They) just threw her on the side of the road, naked, like garbage. I just, I don’t get it,” Ricardo told KHOU. “No one gets away with something like this. No one.”
She said the late influencer’s friends will not let her death go.
“Whoever did this, we’re going to find them,” Ricardo said. “We’re going to do everything it takes so everyone can put her to rest in peace.”
Anyone with information on Sharkey’s death is asked to call the Houston Police Department Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.