Paper: Syracuse Herald-Journal (NY)
Title: SERIAL-KILLING SUSPECT HELD
Date: January 5, 1990
Watching TV Thursday night, Clem Brown caught a glimpse of the man police believe killed Brown's granddaughter and at least seven other women.
``An eye for an eye,'' said Brown today after television stations here broadcast the first pictures of Arthur Shawcross. ``Give him the electric chair.''Police say the paroled child-killer from Watertown has confessed to being the strangler who has terrorized the city's seamiest streets, killing at least eight of the 14 prostitutes and drug users slain over the past 20 months.
In Rochester City Court today, Shawcross pleaded innocent to eight counts of second-degree murder before Judge John Manning Regan. He is being held in the Monroe County Jail without bail. More murder counts could be filed soon.
Shawcross, 45, a food service worker living in Rochester, was paroled in 1987 from Green Haven Correctional Facility after serving 15 years of a 25-year manslaughter sentence for strangling an 8-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy in Watertown.
``What the hell did they let him out for if he does that?'' Brown asked. ``If he kills kids, he sure as hell would do it to someone else.''
But Shawcross's early release was not unusual. In June, a Herald American study of murderers sentenced to life found the average time served was 17 years, four months. At least a half-dozen lifers are put back on New York's streets each year. A third commit more crimes. Nearly half violate their parole.
Between 1978 and 1982, the state Department of Corrections released 1,228 inmates convicted of first-degree manslaughter. Of those, 355, or 29 percent, are back behind bars, according to state Department of Corrections statistics.
The killings in Rochester began in March 1988. Thursday, Shawcross told Rochester police where to find two more bodies. There are 14 unsolved murders of young women in the Rochester area. Shawcross, apparently, hasn't been linked to all of the slayings.
By midnight Thursday, Rochester officials acting on Shawcross's directions had found another body, in West Creek in the town of Clarkson, but had not located the second.
Frances Brown, Clem Brown's granddaughter, was like the other murder victims. She was a prostitute and cocaine addict.
Her body was found Nov. 11 in a gorge on the east side of the Genesee River. She had been strangled or suffocated. She was the ninth and youngest of the serial killer's victims.
Shawcross reportedly listed his motives for police:
He killed several women for mocking him when he was unable to engage in sex;
He killed another when she broke the gear shift knob in his girlfriend's car.
He killed another because he thought she lied about being a virgin.
He killed another because she pushed him into the Genesee River while they were swimming together.
The bodies, some nude, some clothed, some beaten, some strangled, have turned up on roadsides and in gorges. In December, detectives from a half-dozen police agencies in Central and Western New York met in Rochester for a confidential briefing, held so police might be able to recognize similarities should the killer strike outside the Rochester area. Syracuse police sent two representatives.
Rochester investigators first questioned Shawcross Wednesday when they searched Northampton Park west of Rochester, according to news reports. That day they found the body of June Cicero, 34.
Constanttine, the state police superintendent, said Shawcross was arrested by officers in a police helicopter who saw a car speeding away from the culvert where Cicero's body was spotted, about 12 miles west of Rochester.
Patrol cars stopped the Shawcross vehicle in a nearby nursing home, authorities said today. In the car police found an earring that belonged to Cicero.
SHAWCROSS was released Wednesday, but questioned again Thursday. He confessed to 10 of the killings, according to television station WOKR, which quoted unidentified police sources. That day, the body of Felicia Stephens was also found in Northampton Park.
WOKR reported that Rochester police met with state and county investigators for five hours Thursday afternoon to discuss the case.
About 60 state troopers, forest rangers from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and town of Ogden police searched the Monroe County towns of Ogden, Riga and Sweden for clues into the latest deaths.
Cicero had fit the profile of the serial killer's victims: addicted, vulnerable, a prostitute who worked around Lake and Lyell avenues in Rochester. They are out there all the time.
``They stay out in that cold for six or seven hours, maybe all day or all night,'' said 52-year-old Willie Wilson, who lives above a laundry in the 200 block.
ON AVERAGE, one prostitute a year was murdered in Rochester and police usually made a quick arrest, said Sgt. Roland Marchetti, a police spokesman.
Then, by the summer of 1988, police had three unsolved cases. Nicola A. Gurskey had been shot in the chest, Dorothy Blackburn had been strangled and Anna Marie Steffen's skeletal remains were found in a gorge, the cause of death undetermined.
Police began working on the belief that the three killings were related. Then the body of Rosalie Dolores Oppel was found March 27, 1989.
Until now, Gordon Urlacher, Rochester's police chief since 1985, spoke only in generalities about the murder investigations.
``We have devoted a large percentage of the patrol force to give special attention to this area,'' he said during an interview a few weeks ago. Detectives have written down license plate numbers of the johns -- the men who patronize prostitutes. Johns were stopped and sometimes arrested.
``Police and reporters are falling all over themselves out there,'' Urlacher said.
Indeed, in November one police investigator wrote an angry memo to his deputy chief, Terrence M. Rickard. Police had seen one driver pick up a prostitute and drive away. He would return and pick up another, and another. Police spent a lot of time watching him.
He turned out to be a television station's news director seeking interviews with hookers. Other reporters had sought interviews, but they did it out in the open, not in cars. Someone scrawled a note on the memo, ``I've just about had it with this guy.''
The police department resisted attempts by various institutions to set up a reward for information leading to the killer's conviction because rewards sometimes lead to too many erroneous tips.
ROCHESTER DETECTIVES also contacted police in New Bedford, Mass., where 11 young women have been murdered. Six of the bodies have turned up in a neighborhood populated by drug addicts, pimps and prostitutes.
Urlacher doesn't think Rochester's cases are related to those in New Bedford. He points out that police in Seattle and Kansas City also have serial murder cases pending.
Alnora Carter echoed Clem Brown's thought about what to do with the killer if he's convicted.
``Like some people say, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,'' said Carter, the mother of Jacqueline Dicker, whose body was found Aug. 27 on the shoulder of Route 204 in the nearby town of Gates. She had been strangled.
``He deserves to get the electric chair,'' said Carter. ``That's what I feel.''
CARTER'S DAYS start early now because she is caring for the four children her daughter left behind. Their ages range from 2 to 8.
She doesn't like it when the media in Rochester describe what Jacqueline Dicker did for a living.
``She is my daughter. The only thing I dislike is calling her a prostitute. She has a name. They all have names. I named her Jacqueline.''
Before Shawcross was arrested, people had many theories about the killer's motive. In the laundry on Lyell Avenue, Willie Wilson and 53-year-old Martin Baer bounced around some ideas.
``It could be drugs,'' said Baer. ``I can't really say for sure, but I think what's going on is the prostitute is getting the drug, and they ain't got the money to pay for it. So this guy is killing 'em.''
``Somebody could have caught AIDS or something from one of 'em,'' said Wilson, ``and figures he ain't got long to live. He might be out there thinking, `If I ain't got long to live, why should I let them live.' ''
THERE WERE other possibilities, Wilson said. ``People keep saying it's a man,'' he said. ``It could be a woman. 'Cause you got different types of women who fool with one another.''
Dr. Russel Barton has been a general psychiatrist for 40 years and was director of the Rochester State Hospital from 1970-77. He says serial killers are people who did not have a loving relationship with a mother or mother figure in the early years of life. They suffer from ``lovelessness,'' he said.
Among other things, they have a contempt for rules. They are irresponsible and willing to violate the rights of others. They have little capacity for love and no loyalty to friends. And, as they overpower their victims and make them plead, they equate that power with sexual potency, Barton said.
Barton says he understands why some people want the killer put to death, even though New York state has no death penalty.
``I can understand people being so angry and incensed, especially when there's such viciousness and cruelty,'' he said. ``But I couldn't pull the rope myself so I shouldn't ask anyone else to.''
Some of the other murder victims were Linda Lee Hymes, 35; Kimberly Denise Logan, 30; June Stotts, 30; and Elizabeth A. Gibson, 29. And even more.
Jo An Schlicker doesn't advocate the death penalty for the person who killed her daughter. Patricia Ives, 25, was the eighth victim. Her body was found Oct. 27 near the gorge behind a YMCA.
``I don't think they should ever let him on the street again,'' Schlicker said. ``He'd probably be let out on some technicality. He's killing the same type of girl over and over. He's probably killing somebody who did him dirty.''
Patricia Ives had a cocaine habit. She had convictions for prostitution. She also liked to write in a journal.
After her death, her mother found a journal entry written in 1986. It's interesting, she says, but probably not important to the police case.
``Friday night at work,'' it began, ``a man came in. He was strange, probably a social psychopath. He was ugly, stuttered very much and talked like he was a woman hater.
``He scared me; chills ran up and down my side and made me aware of the dangers that I sometimes face in everyday life.''
Schlicker, after reading her daughter's journal, wrote a letter that was printed in a Rochester newspaper. It was an open letter to the killer:
``When my daughter died,'' Schlicker wrote, ``she was alone, vulnerable, and no one could help her. Did she ever see you before that fatal day?''