Panel recalls serial killer Gerard Schaefer whose victims ended up on Hutchinson Island TC Palm News
STUART — Five panelists closely tied to the conviction of one of the first coined “serial killers” met to reflect on their involvement Monday evening.
Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder, State Attorney Bruce Colton, attorney Bob Stone, writer Yvonne Mason and reporter Joe Crankshaw spoke in a community forum at the Blake Library about their work in the Gerard Schaefer case.
In April 1973, the remains of victims Susan Place and Georgia Jessup were found on Hutchinson Island in St. Lucie County. Schaefer was charged with their murders, linked to at least 30 missing women and girls by authorities, and given two life sentences in prison. The Fort Lauderdale resident was brutally killed by a fellow inmate in prison in 1995.
Schaefer also worked for the Martin County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy for 28 days alongside Crowder.
“I think it just made law enforcement more aware of the existence of serial murderers,” Crowder said. “It made us aware of things to key on when we have a crime like this there is the potential for it being one perpetrator and multiple victims.”
More than 50 people showed up to hear the panel’s stories for the event that helped kick off National Victims Rights Week.
Mason, whose 2008 book “Silent Scream” chronicles Schaefer’s murders and conviction, undertook the project to give Schaefer’s numerous victims a voice.
“The victims are not the only victims,” Mason said. “The victims are also the families. The victims are also the law enforcement who work these cases. None of these people who worked this were ever the same. I’m not the same.”
The panel described Schaefer as unremorseful and meticulous as he picked up hitchhiking women, took them to remote locations and violently murdered them. He kept their jewelry and teeth as trophies of his work.
“Ted Bundy was nothing compared to Schaefer,” Stone said. “He was cocky as hell. This was a game to him.”
And more than 30 years later, it’s still not definite how many victims Schaefer killed.
“Probably the case is not completed, and never will be,” Crowder said. “I would not be surprised if there are dozens of more victims out there that we just don’t know about. We’ll just never know.”