November 10, 2008
Albany, New York
Serial killer Arthur Shawcross, The Genesee River Killer, dies in prison
In 1972, Shawcross had accepted a plea deal for the sexual assault, murder, and mutilation of 8-year-old Karen Ann Hill, pleading guilty to her murder in exchange for a lesser manslaughter charge. He also confessed the similar assault and murder of 10-year-old Jake Blake and led authorities to his body, though he was never tried for Blake’s murder. Shawcross was sentenced to 25 years in prison but released on parole after 15.
A year after his release, Shawcross began killing again.
Between 1988 and 1990, Shawcross killed 11 women. Most were strangled and beaten, and many were mutilated. When the body of the final victim, 59-year-old Dorothy Keller, was found, authorities opted to leave her body where it was found, believing the killer to be the type to revisit his kills. Shawcross did return; he was found masturbating in his car near the location of Keller’s body. He was arrested and confessed to the murders of 11 women. He also confessed to the murders and cannibalization of two young Vietnamese girls during the War, though these murders were never verified.
Shawcross was tried in the two counties the murders were committed. In Monroe County, he attempted an insanity plea for ten of the murders. The plea was unsuccessful and Shawcross was sentenced to 250 years in prison. In Wayne County, Shawcross simply pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life.
Shawcross died in prison of a cardiac arrest at the age of 63.