Rhode Island · Serial Killers

Mother, daughters found brutally murdered

September 4, 1989
Warwick, Rhode Island
Joan Heaton and her daughters Jennifer (10) and Melissa (8) are found murdered in their home

Joan’s mother grew worried when she hadn’t heard from the family over the Labor Day weekend and visited their home with Joan’s sister on September 4. When no one answered they entered the home and found the bloodied and decomposing bodies of Joan, Jennifer, and Melissa. Police believed they had been murdered September 1. Joan had been stabbed 57 times, Jennifer 62 times, and Melissa 30 times. Melissa’s skull had also been fractured. The brutality of the attack was especially evident by the blades from the knives broke from their handles and were embedded in the bones of the victims.

Investigators noted similarities between the Heaton murders and one of Rebecca Spencer, murdered two years earlier on July 27, 1987. She had been stabbed 58 times. An FBI profiler was brought in who determined the murders were by the same individual, while a local detective noticed a large cut on Price’s head which led to his arrest and confession of both incidents.

Price showed no remorse for the murders and mentioned that once he turned 21 his records would be sealed. His crimes helped change state laws allowing minors to be tried as adults in violent crimes, but the new law could not be retroactively applied to Price. Price pleaded guilty to murder and, because he was a minor, sentenced to 5 years in Rhode Island Training School’s Youth Correctional Center. Over the course of his time behind bars, he has earned additions to his sentence for various infractions including assault and extortion. He claims he has served his debt to society and is being held partially due to racism.

Horrific history from today:
1959: Fictional History: Stand By Me (2017)
1986: Serial killer killed during home invasion (2017)
2013: Spring High School stabbing (2017)
1931: Man executed for robbery and murder goes to death smiling and waving (2018)

Horror-related anniversaries:
Today in Horror History: September 4

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