Arthur Shawcross is also known as the Rochester Strangler, since most of his victims were sex workers from that area. He was sentenced to life in prison or 250 years for the murders of 11 people.
Who was Arthur Shawcross, The Monster of the River?
Arthur Shawcross was born on June 6, 1945, in Kittery, Maine, the United States. During his school years, he was diagnosed with a below average intellectual level, and in a declaration to authorities he claimed he had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his mother and sister.
An adolescence marked by an abusive behavior towards his classmates didn’t stop Shawcross from enlisting in the American army; there, after serving on several missions, a psychiatrist told Shawcross’ second wife, Linda, that he felt aroused by provoked fires. For that reason, she decided to file for a divorce, which marked the beginning of Shawcross’ life as a criminal.
His first murder occurred on May 7, 1972, when he sexually abused and killed Jack Owen Blake, a ten-year-old boy; four months later, he murdered Karen Ann Hill, an eight-year-old girl. For that crime, he was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
However, despite the recommendations of the psychiatric specialists, who asked the authorities not to release Shawcross because he represented a danger to society, he was paroled in April 1987.
Second crime wave
Arthur Shawcross’ second murder wave started in March 1988. That year, he decided to look for victims who were sex workers in the area of Rochester, in Monroe County. In only ten months, the Rochester Strangler killed 12 women, although he was only charged with 11 murders.
Among Arthur Shawcross’ victims are: Dorothy Blackburn, Dorothy Keeler, June Stott, Marie Welch, Darlene Trippi, Kimberly Logan and June Cicero. Two days after finding Cicero’s body, the police apprehended Shawcross.
A witness’ testimony was crucial for authorities to be able to stop Arthur Shawcross’ crimes. On January 5, 1990, a person who was walking near Salmon Creek, the place where Shawcross had discarded Cicero’s body, called the police, who quickly acted in order to find the criminal.
One of the detectives assigned to the case assured that one of the reasons why Arthur Shawcross hadn’t been captured before was because many of his killings had a similar modus operandi to other killers.
Trial of Arthur Shawcross
Arthur Shawcross’ trial started in November 1990. His defense team argued that the man, who had been accused of murdering eleven people, couldn’t be incarcerated because he suffered from psychiatric disorders, PTSD and brain damage, while he had also suffered from abuse during his childhood.
In the end, with the help of clinical studies, investigators came to the conclusion that Shawcross had a cyst in the temporal lobe, which affected his ability to make decisions and self-restrain.
Cannibalism and death
In a 2003 interview, The Monster of the River participated in a documentary about cannibalism, where he confessed having cut and eaten the vulva of three of his victims, but he didn’t provide details on his first crime, Jack Blake’s murder.
Shawcross served his sentence in Sullivan’s penitentiary center, in Fallsburg, New York. He died on November 10, 2008, at 63, after an acute pain in the leg. He died in the Albany Medical Center of a heart attack.
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