This is an article from our October 2013 Issue. Grab a copy of our new March issue today!
When I moved to Rochester, I never suspected that I would be living less than a stone’s throw away from where self proclaimed cannibalistic serial killer, Arthur Shawcross, hung his hat. If he even had a hat, that is. For those of you just tuning in and my not know a single solitary shred of information about Arthur Shawcross, allow me to fill you in on some of the history of Rochester’s own “Genesee River Killer.”
Shawcross was born June 6, 1945; at the US Naval Hospital is Kittery, Maine. His mother, Bessie Shawcross, packed up the infant Arthur soon after he was born, and they both shipped out to live at his Aunt’s home in Watertown, New York. In interviews, Shawcross claims early childhood sexual abuse from both his mother and aunt, which the family later denied. He also stated that he sexually assaulted his own sister as well. In school, it was reported that Shawcross was a bully, gifted with a whopping 86 IQ. He dropped out of school by the time he reached the ninth grade. At age nineteen, he enlisted into the Military and was shipped off to Vietnam.
There is something I should mention about Shawcross before I go any further. It is firmly believed that most of the claims Shawcross made about his time in both Vietnam and as a serial killer are greatly exaggerated if not fabricated entirely. In video tapped interviews with prosecution psychiatrist, Dr. Park Dietz, Dietz argues that Shawcross was faking mental illness to avoid being sent to prison. With that being known, be ready to take everything that Shawcross states, with a big, meaty, shaker of salt.
It was while in Vietnam that Shawcross supposedly developed his taste for Long Pork; Human meat to those who don’t get out much. He claimed to savagely murder and cannibalized two young Vietnamese women, a statement that has zero evidence to back it up, aside from his skewed word.
In 1972, Shawcross took his first documented victims, both in Watertown, New York. The first was ten year old Jake Blake, in May, followed by the second, Karen Anne Hill, age 8, in September of the same year. It had been concluded that both Chilean had been sexually assaulted by Shawcross before death. The Blake charges where dropped, and the Hill charges were reduced to manslaughter, getting Shawcross twenty five years in prison. He was released on parole March 1987, a total of fifteen years served.
Shawcross’s serial killing spree didn’t begin until after he was released on parole. Apparently, one round in the big house wasn’t enough to set ‘ole Arty straight. After he was chased from Watertown, because nothing says “upstanding citizen” like child rape and murder, Shawcross found himself in our fair city of Rochester on June 29, 1987.
He first stayed at the ever enduring little grease trap of society called “The Hotel Cadillac, before moving to The Brownstone on Alexander Street, next to this author’s very home, The Normandie. From the roof of The Normandie, (where upon writing this, I was sitting and consuming my weight in cigarettes) I could look down at the aging three story, brown, brick building. Fire escapes were grafted to the side of the brown edifice like braces on a prepubescent teen. A pink looking marshmallow building was growing half out the back of it, and if you were to walk around it, you could see an odd, almost misplaced tower jutting from the side. A patch work nightmare, fitting for a cannibalistic serial killer.
It is here where Shawcross spent his days, while he spent his nights putting a dent in Rochester’s prostitute population from 1988 till 1990. Eleven woman total fell to his strangle happy hands. Shawcross was apprehended in what has to be one of the most embarrassing ways in serial killer history. In 1990, the police caught him returning to the scene of one of his final murders by the Genesee River, a favorite dumping ground of his.
You may ask, “What is the climax to this tale? How did it all end for Shawcross?” For those you who know….don’t spoil the punch line. The police found Shawcross masturbating over the spot one of his victims. Gives a whole new meaning to “Getting caught with your pants down.” He was sentenced to 250 years in prison (overkill?) in 1991.
During his trial, it came to light that Shawcross supposedly (again, most thought he was faking to avoid prison) believed that his mother’s voice told him to commit the murders (a bit too “Psycho”) and that he was possessed by a 13th century cannibal named “Ariemes,” (way too “Exorcist.”) A British documentary crew interviewed Shawcross in prison, to which he bragged to the crew that he ate the genitals of his first victim, Jake Blake, and of three of the prostitutes he killed. Experts believe that this too was an embellishment to impress the reporters and viewers. Shawcross died in prison on November 10, 2008. I guess he couldn’t last until that parole date in 2240.
Unfortunately this author was unable to get into contact with the current tenant of B101, so instead I can only ponder what those walls say, if they could talk?
Would they be able to shed light on the truth of Arthur Shawcross, or lead us to more of his lies? Would the walls perhaps tell us stories of half eaten human flesh sitting in the fridge, or did Shawcross not crap where he ate? Would they tell us tales of how he and his wife (believe it or not, the woman murdering nut-bag had three of them in his lifetime) took their vows in front of the old brick fire place? Would they whisper in the familiar tones of Bessie Shawcross or the out of time, spirit cannibal, Ariemes?
If those walls could talk, would they scream?