If there’s one thing Alexis Sharkey’s friends and family can agree on, it’s that the 26-year-old was always with her phone and never missed a message.
So when the Texas influencer with over 21,000 Instagram followers—who’d recently expressed her desire to divorce her husband of less than a year—went radio silent on Friday evening after spending Thanksgiving with friends, alarm bells went off.
“I instantly knew something was off,” the 26-year-old’s best friend, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, told The Daily Beast on Monday. “She has never been known to disappear or not answer her phone. I don’t think we have ever gone more than six hours without texting.”
Another friend said, “Lex would never run off and she always had her phone as it’s how we ran our business,” referring to their marketing and social media work for the hair-care company Monat.
“Her life was social media—so her phone was her life,” a third friend added.
Their worst fears were confirmed Sunday morning when the Houston Police Department announced the discovery of a naked body tucked away in some bushes on the side of a road about four minutes from Sharkey’s house. Hours later, authorities matched her DNA to the remains, ending a frantic two-day search for the 26-year-old that made waves on social media.
“It’s with deeply broken hearts that Mike and I want to let you all know that Lexi’s body has been found. We cannot begin to thank you all for your love and the kind words you’ve extended to our family!” Stacey Robinault, her mother, wrote on Facebook Sunday night. “Please give us this time to grieve this incredible loss to our family and this world!!! We will miss you, Love!!!!”
On Monday, Robinault added to ABC13 that she believes her daughter “was murdered,” based on what she has “been able to gather as well as a mother’s gut.”
Authorities, however, have not yet provided details on how Sharkey died—pending an autopsy by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences—but a police spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast she was found with no visible wounds and that homicides detectives are involved in the investigation.
A self-described “mentor,” Sharkey frequently posted about her glamorous trips and interest in health and wellness. In her last post on Nov. 22, the 26-year-old described her desire to move to Tulum, saying she’d fallen in love with “the sinks and overall aesthetic” of the popular Mexican vacation destination. Sharkey also had about 54,600 followers on TikTok, where she spent time creating videos about hair care and fashion.
Despite her sunny online persona, multiple friends said the 26-year-old had a troubled relationship with her new husband, Tom Sharkey, whom she married in December.
“Her and her husband were going through a divorce,” one friend said. The decision to end her marriage, the friend said, came after a girls’ trip to Marfa, Texas, last month, where Sharkey claimed her husband “had been putting hands on her.”
“Throughout the trip, he was sending really awful, nasty messages to her,” the friend said. “But one night when she and I were talking alone she said, ‘He strangles me and chokes me out and I blackout and wake up on the bathroom floor every single time.’”
Two other friends also told The Daily Beast that Sharkey had complained about physical abuse and said her husband could be “controlling and manipulative” in group settings.
While it’s unclear if Sharkey had actually filed paperwork to dissolve her marriage, friends said that her behavior had changed over the last month. She wasn’t posting on social media quite as much, and she always wanted “to be around her friends all the time to avoid going home.”
“I know they were going through some things,” Kendra Martin, one of Sharkey’s friends, told The Daily Beast. “She had mentioned being separated even though they were still living in the same apartment. I actually pulled her aside two weeks ago to let her know I’m here for her, and that I know something is going on because her demeanor had changed over the last month.”
Her hardships at home prompted Sharkey to spend Thanksgiving with her friend Tanya R. and her family. Tanya told The Daily Beast that Sharkey had “a wonderful time,” laughing and playing board games.
The 26-year-old’s mom, who lives in Pennsylvania, told ABC13 she briefly spoke to her daughter on Thursday, but that the holiday “was a busy day on her end and our end so it was just one of those passing, type of ‘Love you’ things.”
“Then Friday...honestly, Friday got away. [It was a] busy day. We never talked, and then she went missing Friday night and I have not seen her or heard from her since,” Robinault said.
Sharkey’s friends said they became worried when she stopped responding to messages around 6 p.m. on Friday. Hours later, they filed a police report and contacted her parents.
“Please share this post!!! My daughter, Alexis Sharkey, is missing!!” Robinault wrote on Nov. 28. “No one has heard from her for over 24 hours and the police are involved. She has lived in Houston Texas since January and that was where she was last seen. Please help us find her and bring her home safely!! We are so very desperate!!! Please share!!”
Two friends said Tom Sharkey told them he had gotten into an argument with his wife before she went missing and claimed she had “hopped over their patio fence and into a car.”
Following the news that Sharkey’s body had been discovered by a city worker who had reportedly noticed feet coming out of bushes just off a highway on Saturday, her husband began posting a series of photos on social media in tribute.
In one post, which included a photo of his late wife in a wedding dress, Tom Sharkey wrote: “You made life so incredible! Made sense of my existence! My purpose! And showed me how to truly love!” In another, he added: “My world! My everything! I’m so lost right now! My one and only!”
Minutes later, the 49-year-old blasted all the “crap talking,” which he said was wasting time while he was trying to locate his wife. “And if my wife would of seen this she would be disappointed in your actions!” he wrote. “You all should be ashamed of yourselves! I have been assisting the deputies and making phone calls to fine out what happened to my wife. Next time.... stop and think! And realize! You don’t know it all!”
The Houston Police Department has not named any suspects or persons of interest in connection with Alexis Sharkey’s death. Tom Sharkey did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s multiple requests for comment.
“Alexis had a beautiful, carefree spirit. I considered her a little sister to me. We met about a year ago, both of us had moved to Houston within the same month, and then our friend group began to grow,” Martin said. “She was a bright light, she had this warmth about her that was indescribable, everyone she met was drawn to her loving nature. She was always full of joy and had so much life. This girl loved her oysters and sushi dates, I think I will miss those the most. My sweet friend is missed by so many, and we will get justice for this horrible crime.”