Review: A&E Biography on Arthur Shawcross

on January 29, 2011 in Serial Killers, Video Reviews by

Mrs. SK Podcast and I were flipping channels last night, and as we went by the Biography Channel, we saw that the Biography episode on Arthur Shawcross (aka the Genesee River Killer) was just starting. As neither of us had seen the episode, nor were particularly familiar with Shawcross, we decided to watch.

Shawcross was primarily a killer of prostitutes, not unlike Gary Ridgway, Joel RIfkin, or the more recent Kensington Strangler (Antonio Rodriguez). Like most of that type, he was uneducated and scored low on IQ measurements, but had street smarts to spare.

He was caught when a helicopter engaged in aerial surveillance for Genesee River Killer victims spotted Shawcross sitting in a vehicle near a body. The helicopter followed the car, and when the car parked, Shawcross was picked up by units on the ground.

After a couple of rounds of questioning and some investigation into Shawcross’s background, he confessed to the murders.

The interesting twist is that Shawcross had actually already been convicted of manslaughter in the early 1970’s. That manslaughter conviction was actually a plea agreement after he killed two children. He killed 10-year-old Jack Owen Blake in May 1972, and then raped and killed 8-year-old Karen Ann Hill.

The plea was in exchange for showing where Jack’s body was buried.

He was sentenced to 25 years, and served 14 1/2. For a pair of murders. Of children. With a little rape thrown in.

Naturally, the Genesee River community was outraged when all this was learned, but I’ll let you learn about that yourself if you watch the episode.

To me, the most interesting thing about these video biographies are the interviews with the perpetrator himself. They reveal things you just can’t pick up on from books.

The most revealing (and disturbing) moment is this episode was when he talked about murdering an elderly house cleaner he employed. My wife and I simultaneously picked up on a slight look of joy in his eyes as he discussed killing her.

He clearly enjoyed the killing, and relished the memory. He didn’t have even a hint of regret.

You can purchase a copy of this DVD at If you use this link to purchase, a small percentage of your purchase price will come back to the Serial Killers Podcast to help cover our costs.

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