November 29, 2008 by

Arthur Shawcross


Categories: Criminals

Arthur John Shawcross, a serial killer who terrorized the Rochester, N.Y., area from 1988 to 1990, died on Nov. 10 of a heart attack. He was 63.

Born in Kittery, Maine, and raised in Watertown, N.Y., Shawcross was an awkward child who frequently fought with other children, a practice that earned him a reputation as a bully. He dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, and enlisted in the Army, serving a tour of duty in the Vietnam war.

Upon his return to the states, Shawcross moved back to Watertown. In 1972, he lured Jack Owen Blake, 10, into the woods and sexually assaulted and murdered the boy. Four months later, he raped and killed an 8-year-old girl named Karen Ann Hill.

Shawcross later confessed to these slayings, but avoided a life sentence by cutting a deal with the prosecutor. In return for leading police to the bodies and pleading guilty to killing Hill, he would receive a 25-year sentence and no charges for the Blake murder. Shawcross spent 15 years in prison before being released on parole in 1987.

The following year, he settled in Rochester, N.Y., and began a killing spree that would earn him the name: “The Genesee River Killer.”

From 1988 to 1990, Shawcross murdered 11 women: Patricia Ives, Frances Brown, June Cicero, Darlene Trippi, Anna Marie Steffen, Dorothy Blackburn, Kimberly Logan, June Stotts, Marie Welch, Elizabeth Gibson and Dorothy Keller. Most of his victims were strangled and beaten to death; several were also mutilated, their body parts consumed. The press gave Shawcross the ominous moniker because most of the women’s bodies were dumped near the Genesee River.

With the assistance of several FBI profilers and experts, the police set up surveillance on the body of the final victim and caught Shawcross hanging out near the dump site. He confessed to the killing spree while in custody, telling police he was “takin’ care of business,” but later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

During the 13-week televised trial, the defense offered testimony from psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis that claimed Shawcross suffered from multiple personality disorder, brain damage and post-traumatic stress disorder. The jury didn’t buy the argument and found him guilty and sane after only 6 1/2 hours of deliberations. He was sentenced to 250 years in prison, one of the longest sentences ever handed down in New York state.

Shawcross’ crimes were chronicled in the 1992 book “Arthur Shawcross: The Genesee River Killer” by Joel Norris, which included a recording of his confession, and in the 1993 book, “The Misbegotten Son” by Jack Olsen. He was also featured in several programs dealing with serial killers as well as the 2003 HBO documentary, “Cannibal: The Real Hannibal Lecters.”

While behind bars, Shawcross married and later divorced Clara D. Neal. He also reconnected with his only daughter, Margaret Deming of Brooklyn, N.Y., and began painting portraits that were included in an annual inmate art show at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, N.Y. The “Corrections on Canvas” show, which had been staged for 35 years, was discontinued in 2002, after the public protested that Shawcross was profiting from the sale of his pictures.

17 Responses to Arthur Shawcross

  1. kate whitehead

    well arthur, we were writing to each other for a while, and although many might not have agreed with me, ill still miss the letters we shared. Maybe you did change before the end, or maybe you were just the same as you were when you committed the horrendous acts, no one will ever no, but you. i just hope you did. I hope you find somekind of peace now, and i hope the familys whose lives you tore apart also can find some peace, bye Art! kate

  2. Rachael

    I have been wondering if you received my letter before you past away. In the past few letters that you wrote to me you said that you had been unwell, but was getting better! I can’t believe that you are now gone.
    My boys have the pictures that you drew for them on the wall – thank you once again.
    I know we had some funny times and I know that you have changed from the person that you was – and i know the reason why you did what you did.
    I will miss you Arthur and the letters that we shared.
    My God take care of you and may you now rest in peace.
    I will never forget you:)
    Rachael xxxx

  3. rachel shallcross

    what? you lot are just as sick as him!! child muderin bastard. he dont deserve no tributes. you say people cant write anythin nasty about him, well what else can people say about him? there aint anythin nice about him. if any of the people who have wrote nice things about him, well if you have kids, would you like someone to rape and murder them? yeah think about that one. HOPE HE IS SUFFERING IN HELL, WHERE HE BELONGS!!!!! JUST LIKE THAT LITTLE GIRL AND BOY SUFFERED

  4. Witter Cheng

    Arthur, thanks for the countless emails, drawings, and 4 leaf clovers. We sure do miss hearing from you as we did look foward to everyone of your letters…almost weekly.

  5. Courtney

    Arthur I will always love you. I’m just sorry we didn’t get to get married like we both talked about before you went into the hospital. I will cherish the ring that you sent me.

  6. MichiganGhoul

    Arthur and I were friends for 10+ years. I don’t condone his killings but I felt he was a great individual deep down inside. He was always a cool person to me and I’ll miss our visits and his letters.

  7. Susan

    A tribute??! Are you kidding? And you stupid females actually wrote to this psycho…. Whoa! I just finished a book about this weirdo and parts were so horrendous I had to skip over the paragraphs.
    I am always amazed at the idiots that communicate with these killers. It says a lot about their mental state….

    • Normandie Kent

      Woman who write to and defend these sickos, usually have mental deficiencies themselves and have very low self esteem. They can’t have normal man/ woman relationship, and get off on the sick acts that their chosen sicko commited against their Child or woman victims. They fantasize that if he ever gets out they will live together happily ever after, and that they will be special because only their love can rehabilitate their chosen sicko. These delusional women have low IQ, and some are borderline retarded mentally and emotionally. They are nothing but serial killer groupies, they are a dime a dozen, because all imprisoned serial killers have them, and there is nothing special about them. They are just as sick and pathetic as their chosen sicko. These women cannot understand why normal people loathe them, because they have deluded themselves in thinking this is normal behavior on their part, and they know that deep down inside their chosen mutilater is a good person. We normal people know that this is bullshit, and that the serial killer is the Devil incarnate.

  8. Summer

    What a sick and twisted individual you were and Im so0o happy you are gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!You murdered my Husband’s mother when he was just 8 years old and she was made to leave this earth because of you! My husband is emotionally damaged because he never grew up with a mother. I hope you rot in hell for eternity and forever more. Lot’s of beautiful children and they will never know their grandmother. Karma is a bitch and u finally got what was coming to you

  9. Summer

    By the way my father worked on all some of your crime scenes when he was a police officer. Your truly an emotionless parasite.

  10. Bailey J

    I hope that this sick, psychopathic pedophile burns eternally in hell where he belongs. If only he had been given the chair or the rope..that would have been justice. You people that wrote him are all insane and brainless!

  11. Lori

    Tributes?!?!?!?!?! Are you fucking insane? Those of you who corresponded with that monster should be locked up as well. He RAPED and MURDERED CHILDREN. Then he defiled and mutilated innocent women. Dear Jesus, you people are sick!!! The mother who commented on this site should have her children taken away. What kind of mother corresponds with a child killer? Oh my god, I can’t believe how sick some people are.

  12. DR Craine

    I lived in Rochester during his reign of terror. I find it really dissapointing that people are really saying nice things about this man. People who believed he changed are completely forgetting the fact that he had brain damage. Even if he wanted to change, he couldn’t. Arthur I hope you have gotten what you deserve. You died from a heart attack. What a cowardly way to go. You should have felt some of the pain you inflicted on so many of those people. Oh, and Courtney, you are just as delusional as he was. Freak!

  13. Julia

    Arthur im going to miss our communications, you truly were one of the good guys, missunderstood and punished for acts you had no control over. You are now safely in the arms of Jesus, away from the wicked and cruel world of satan who used you as a tool for evil. Wait for me at the pearly gates my darling.

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