Arthur John Shawcross died on November 10, 2008, at the age of 63 while serving a life sentence for the murder of 11 women, born in Kittery, Maine on June 7, 1945, the first of four children of Arthur Roy Shawcross and Elizabeth (nee Yerakes) Shawcross.
His family moved to Watertown in New York State when he was young, he was an American serial killer, also known as the Genesee River Killer in Rochester, New York.
His family moved to Watertown in New York State when he was young.
While several later tests showed Shawcross’ intelligence to be sub-normal or even “borderline retarded”, he received As and Bs in his first two years of grade school, but was later tested to have an I.Q. of 86, signifying low average intelligence.
However, when tested in the army, Shawcross scored just above average in intelligence tests, scoring 105 upon entry and 108 at discharge.
In April 1967 he was drafted by the Army at age 21.
After his discharge from the Army, Shawcross moved with his wife (who would soon divorce him) from Oklahoma to Clayton, New York, where he began committing crimes such as arson and burglary.
His offenses earned him a five-year sentence at Attica Correctional Facility, and later Auburn Correctional Facility.
After serving 22 months he was granted early release in October 1971, in part due to his role in the rescue of a prison guard during a riot.
On May 7, 1972, he sexually assaulted and murdered 10-year-old Jack Owen Blake after luring the boy into some woods in Watertown.
Four months later, on September 2, he raped and killed eight-year-old Karen Ann Hill, who was visiting Watertown with her mother for the Labor Day weekend.
Arrested in October, he confessed to both murders.
Under the terms of a plea bargain he agreed to reveal the location of Blake’s body; in return he was permitted to plead guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter in the Hill case, all other charges were dropped, and he received a 25-year sentence at Green Haven Correctional Facility.
After serving less than 15 years of this sentence, he was released on parole in April 1987.
The well-publicized resettlement of a child killer in the Binghamton area of New York State was greeted by a public outcry, and he was forced to leave the area after a few months along with his new girlfriend, Rose Whalley.
The discovery of the body of another prostitute, Anna Steffen, on September 9, 1989, linked several of the victims.
She died of asphyxia, and her body had been dumped in a similar manner to Blackburn’s corpse.
Her body, however, was found far from the original murder scene, so again the possibility that a serial killer was at work was not recognized.
With the body count mounting, the police sought assistance from FBI profilers.
They divided the 11 unsolved prostitute murders into sub-groups according to method and position.
They developed a profile that described the killer as a white male in his 20s or 30s, who was strong, probably with a previous criminal record, familiar with the area, and comfortable enough with the victims that they would enter his vehicle without question.
In November 1990, Shawcross went on trial for the 10 murders that had occurred in Monroe County.
The last victim, Elizabeth Gibson, had been killed in neighbouring Wayne County.
The trial was a national media event, extensively televised and widely viewed.