Early life of Arthur Shawcross
He was born in Maine, but the family moved to Watertown in New York State when he was young. Shawcross dropped out of school in the ninth grade, and when he was 19 he enlisted in the army. He fought in the Vietnam War where he was to later confess he had murdered and cannibalized two young Vietnamese girls, although there is nothing to back up this claim.
Back in civilian life, living in Watertown once more, Shawcross married four times, but his wives invariably left him after a short time because of his violent and erratic behavior. It was there, in May 1972, that he murdered 10-year-old Jake Blake. He lured the boy to some woods where he assaulted and strangled him. Four months later, he raped and killed an eight-year-old girl named Karen Ann Hill.
Arrested for these crimes, Shawcross confessed to both murders but was later able to obtain a plea bargain with the prosecutors. He would plead guilty to killing just Karen Ann Hill on a charge of manslaughter, instead of first-degree murder, and the charge of killing Jake Blake would be dropped. With little evidence to go on, prosecutors went along with this, and the self-confessed double child killer was given a 25-year sentence.
Shawcross served 15 years before he was released on parole in March 1987. He had difficulty settling down as he was chased out of homes and fired from workplaces as soon as neighbors and employers found out about his criminal record. Eventually he settled in Rochester, New York, and lived with a woman named Clara.