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Richard Fran BIEGENWALD

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Thrill Killer"
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Robberies
Number of victims: 6 +
Date of murders: 1958 / 1981 - 1982
Date of arrest: January 22, 1983
Date of birth: August 24, 1940
Victims profile: Stephen Sladowski, 47 (store owner) / Maria Ciallella, 17 / Deborah Osborne, 17 / Betsy Bacon, 17 / Anna Olesiewicz, 18 / William J. Ward, 34 (drug dealer)
Method of murder: Shooting - Stabbing with knife
Location: New York/New Jersey, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in 1958. Released in 1975. Sentenced to death in 1983. Overturned. Resentenced to life in prison without parole. Died in prison on March 10, 2008
 
 

 
 

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Richard Fran Biegenwald (August 24, 1940 March 10, 2008) was an American serial killer, who committed his crimes in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Between 1958 and 1983, Biegenwald killed at least nine people, and he is suspected in at least two other murders.

Early life

Born in Rockland County, New York, Biegenwald was frequently beaten as a child by his alcoholic father. At the age of five, Biegenwald set fire to their home and was sent for observation at a Rockland County Psychiatric Center.

By the age of eight, Biegenwald was drinking and gambling; at age nine he underwent electroshock therapy at New York's Bellevue Hospital. After his therapy, Biegenwald was placed in the State Training School for Boys in Warwick, New York. During his years there, Biegenwald was accused of theft and inciting other inmates to escape.

During trips to visit his mother in Staten Island, he would steal money from her. When he was 11 years old, he set himself on fire in his mother's home. When Biegenwald was 16 years old, he graduated eighth grade and was released from the Training School to attend high school. Biegenwald dropped out of high school after only a few weeks.

Soon after dropping out of school, Biegenwald went to Nashville, Tennessee, where he stayed for two years. Biegenwald stole a car in Nashville, and was arrested in Kentucky by federal agents for transporting a stolen car across state lines. He was returned to his mother on Staten Island in 1958.

The first murder

After being returned to his mother, Biegenwald stole another car and went to Bayonne, New Jersey. There, Biegenwald robbed a grocery store, shooting and killing the clerk, Steven Sladowski.

Biegenwald fled the state after the murder, but was captured two days later in Salisbury, Maryland, after shooting a police officer there. Biegenwald was extradited to New Jersey, where he was convicted of murder and given a life sentence. Biegenwald was released in 1974 for good behavior after 16 years imprisonment.

Back on the outside

Biegenwald worked odd jobs for the next three years and kept a low profile. In 1977, Biegenwald was suspected in a rape, and was wanted for failing to report to his parole officer. Biegenwald was arrested in Brooklyn in 1980 on the rape charge, but was released after the victim failed to pick him out of a lineup.

Biegenwald got married after being released, and he and his wife moved to Asbury Park, New Jersey. There, Biegenwald was befriended by Dherran Fitzgerald, who would play a role in several of his future murders.

Biegenwald struck again on January 4, 1983, when he shot and killed 18-year-old Anna Olesiewicz in Ocean Township, New Jersey. He had found the young woman walking down the boardwalk in Asbury Park, and lured her into his car.

Olesiewicz's body was found by children playing in a wooded lot behind a Burger King on Route 35 and Sunset Avenue, fully clothed with no signs of sexual assault and with four bullets in her head. A friend of Biegenwald's wife went to police after Biegenwald showed her another young woman's body that he had hidden inside his Asbury Park home's garage.

Capture

Police surrounded Biegenwald's home on January 22, 1983, while Dherran Fitzgerald was visiting. Both Biegenwald and Fitzgerald were arrested, and a search of the home revealed a small cache of weapons and drugs. Police confiscated a pipe bomb, handguns, a machine gun, Rohypnol, marijuana and a live puff adder, as well as floor plans for several area businesses.

During questioning, Fitzgerald told of a body of a third young woman that Biegenwald had showed him hidden in his garage. Fitzgerald told police that he helped Biegenwald transport the body to his mother's house in Staten Island and bury it in the basement. Fitzgerald went on to say that while he was digging in the basement, he exhumed a body that Biegenwald had buried there some time before. Fitzgerald led police to three other bodies in addition to the two buried in Staten Island.

As the investigation went on, police located a ninth victim, William Ward, who was buried in a shallow grave in Neptune City, New Jersey. Ward was a prison escapee whom Biegenwald had befriended. The friendship was apparently short lived, as Biegenwald shot Ward five times in the head and then disposed of the body.

Police only had enough evidence to charge Biegenwald with five counts of first degree murder. Fitzgerald turned state's evidence and his testimony was crucial in convicting Biegenwald. In return for his testimony, Fitzgerald was only charged with one count of possession of a weapon and one count of accessory to murder after the fact, and served a 10-year prison sentence. Fitzgerald was released from New Jersey State Prison in 1994.

Sentencing

A Monmouth County jury found Biegenwald guilty on all five counts of first degree murder. Biegenwald was sentenced to death by lethal injection, but the sentence would later be overturned by an Appellate Court. Until his death, he was serving four life sentences without the possibility of parole at New Jersey State Prison.

Death

Biegenwald died at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, New Jersey, said Corrections Department spokeswoman Deirdre Fedkenheuer in an interview to the Associated Press. An autopsy revealed that Biegenwald died of respiratory and kidney failure.

Known victims

  • Stephen Sladowski -- Shot to death in 1958 after a robbery attempt in Bayonne, NJ.

  • Maria Ciallella -- Shot and dismembered on November 1, 1981. She was buried at Biegenwald's mother's house.

  • Deborah Osbourne -- Stabbed to death on April 8, 1982. She was buried on top of Ciallella's body at Biegenwald's mother's house.

  • Anna Olesiewicz -- Shot four times in the head on August 28, 1982 after being lured away from the Asbury Park boardwalk. Her body was left behind a Burger King in Ocean Township, NJ.

  • William Ward -- Drug dealer shot and killed by Biegenwald at his home in Asbury Park in September 1982

Wikipedia.org


Richard Biegenwald

Born in 1940, Biegenwald was the victim of severe, countless beatings from his alcholic father. At five, he torched the family home and was sent off for observation at the Pyschiatric Center in Rockland county, New York. By age eight, he was drinking and gambling, by nine, he had received a series of electroshock therapy treatments at New York's Bellevue Hospital.

His next institutional stop was at the State Training School for Boys at Warwick, New York, where he was accused of theft and inciting other inmates to escape. On his visits home to State Island, he stole money from his mother, and at age eleven he sat himself on fire. He was released in time to graduate from eighth grade, at age sixteen.

Biegenwald dropped out of high school after only a few weeks. Soon after dropping out he left for Nashville, Tennesee, where he stole a car, and was arrested by federal agents for transporting the vehicle across state lines. In 1958, a few months after being relased from Kentucky officials, he stole another car on State Island and drove to Bayonne, New Jersey where he tried to hold up a grocery store. In the process, he killed Stephen Sladowski.

Biegenwald and his male partner were picked up in Maryland two days later after Biegenwald shot a Salsbury police officer and fired a shotgun at state troopers who pulled him over for speeding. He was convicted of murder, and given a life sentence. Richard was released after serving only 17 years in 1974.

Back on the street, Beigenwald worked odd jobs, and met a pretty 16 year old girl who was a neighbor of his mother. The girl was a normal, outstanding student, who's parents were shocked when they found out she was engaged to a scarfaced ex-con who was more than twice her age. By this time, Richard had not reported to his parole officer since mid 1977, and was suspected in a rape as well. He was arrested in Brooklyn in June 1980, and married his girlfriend in the Brooklyn House of Detention.

The Rape charges were dropped when the victim failed to identify him in a lineup, but he still served six months for his parole violation. When released he moved into an apartment with his wife in Asbury Park, New Jersey. On January 4, 1983, the body of 18-year old Anna Olesiewicz was found behind a restaurant in Ocean Township, north of Asbury Park. She was shot four times in the head, and was fully clothed, with no signs of rape.

After hearing about the murder, a friend of Biegenwald's wife notified police, claiming Richard as a suspect in the murder. She said that she had accompanied Biegenwald on several trips to the boardwalk, trolling for victims, and he had once shown her a young woman's body hidden in his garage, and even gave her a ring as a present that belonged to a victim.

On January 22, police surrounded his and Dherran Fitzgerald's apartments, surprising them. A search of the house turned up pipe bombs, pistols, a machine gun, knockout drops, marijuana, a live puff adder snake, and floor plans of various local business's. In custody, Fitzgerald began to tell of Biegenwald showing him a body in the garage, saying that she had been killed "for business reasons." He helped bury that body at the home of Biegenwald's mother, on Staten Island, accidentally uncovering a second dead body as he was digging the grave. Fitzgerald led police to the bodies of three more bodies.

As the investigation went on, charges were filed against Richard in the death of a prison escapee named William Ward, who was shot five times in the head and buried outside Neptune City, New Jersey. He was also suspected, but not charged in two additional murders.

Richard was indicted by New Jersey authorities on five counts of first degree murder. Fitzgerald turned state's evidence, pleading guilty on counts of weapons possession and hindering Biegenwald's arrest (helping bury bodies), and recieved 5 years for each count. Biegenwald was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the murder of Anna Olesiewicz, and for the murder of William Ward, he recieved a life sentence.


Biegenwald, Richard

Born on Staten Island in 1940, Biegenwald was the target of countless beatings from his alcoholic father. 

At age five, he torched the family home and was packed off for observation at the Psychiatric Center in Rockland county, New York. Drinking and gambling by age eight, a year later Biegenwald received a series of electroshock-therapy treatments at New York's Bellevue Hospital. Richard's next institutional stop was the State Training School for Boys at Warwick, New York, where he was accused of theft and inciting other inmates to escape. 

On visits home to Staten Island, he stole money from his mother and, at age 11, set himself on fire. He was released from custody in time to graduate from the eighth grade, at age sixteen. Biegenwald lasted only a few weeks in high school.

Soon after dropping out, he drifted to Nashville, Tennessee, stole a car there, and was arrested by federal agents for transporting the vehicle across state lines.

Released from custody a few months later, during 1958, he stole another car on Staten Island, drove to Bayonne, New Jersey, with a male accomplice, and there tried to hold up a grocery store.

In the process, he killed proprietor Stephen Sladowski, a father of four who was also Bayonne's assistant prosecuting attorney. Biegenwald and his partner were picked up in Maryland two days later, after firing a shotgun at state troopers who stopped them for speeding. 

Convicted of murder and sentenced to life in New Jersey, Richard served seventeen years before his parole in 1975. Back on the streets, he worked odd jobs and developed a curious relationship with a pretty 16-year-old neighbor of his mother's.

The girl was an outstanding student, seemingly normal in all respects, and her parents were stunned when she announced her engagement to Biegenwald, a scarfaced ex-convict more than twice her age.

By that time, Richard had more trouble on his hands. He had not reported to his parole officer since mid-1977, and he was suspected of rape on the side. Arrested in Brooklyn during June 1980, Biegenwald married his girlfriend in the Brooklyn House of Detention. Rape charges were dropped when the victim failed to pick Biegenwald out of a lineup, but he served six more months on a charge of parole violation.

Upon release, he found work as a maintenance man, moving his wife to an aging apartment house in Asbury Park, New Jersey. One of their neighbors was Dherran Fitzgerald, a prison acquaintance and career criminal now on parole, sought by police on charges that included shoplifting and interstate gun-running. 

On January 4, 1983, the body of 18-year-old Anna Olesiewicz was found behind a restaurant in Ocean Township, north of Asbury Park. Shot four times in the head, the girl was fully clothed, and police found no evidence of rape. She had last been seen alive on Labor Day weekend, 1982, along the crowded boardwalk at Asbury Park.

Upon hearing the news, a girlfriend of Biegenwald's wife placed an urgent call to police, fingering Richard as a suspect in the murder. According to the caller, she had accompanied Biegenwald on several trips to the boardwalk, trolling for victims, and he had once shown her a young woman's body hidden in his garage, giving her one of the victim's rings as a present.

Police surrounded the apartment house on January 22, surprising Biegenwald, his wife, and Dherran Fitzgerald. A search of the premises turned up pipe bombs, pistols, a machine gun, knockout drops and marijuana, a live puff adder snake, and the floor plans of various local business establishments.

In custody, Fitzgerald began to sing, remarking that Biegenwald had once shown him a woman's corpse in the garage, explaining that she had been killed "for business reasons." Fitzgerald had helped bury the victim at the home of Biegenwald's mother, on Staten Island, accidentally uncovering a second dead woman as he was digging the grave. 

Following his directions, police unearthed the remains of 17-year-old Maria Ciallella, last seen in October 1981, and Deborah Osborne, also 17, missing since April 1982. Ciallella had been shot twice in the head, while Osborne had been stabbed in the chest and abdomen. 

Another field trip with Fitzgerald brought officers to the grave of 17-year-old Betsy Bacon, shot twice in the head, at a point north of Asbury Park. As the investigation proceeded, new charges were filed against Biegenwald in the murder of prison escapee William Ward, shot five times in the head and buried outside Neptune City, New Jersey. 

Biegenwald was also suspected, but never charged, in two other killings. One involved the shooting death of John Petrone, an exconvict and sometime police informer, unearthed -- minus his jawbone -- on a remote New Jersey wildlife preserve. 

The other case involved Virginia Clayton, 17, abducted and killed on September 8, 1982, her body found three days later, four miles from the site where Petrone was buried. 

Richard Biegenwald was indicted by New Jersey authorities on five counts of first-degree murder. Dherran Fitzgerald turned state's evidence, pleading guilty on counts of weapons possession and hindering Biegenwald's arrest (by concealing bodies), receiving a sentence of five years on each count. 

Upon conviction of murdering Anna Olesiewicz, Biegenwald was sentenced to death by lethal injection. 

A second conviction, in the case of William Ward, earned him a sentence of life imprisonment.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Jersey Shore 'Thrill Killer' Richard Biegenwald accused of killing five in early '80s

By Mara Bovsun - NYDailyNews.com

Sunday, October 31, 2010

When Maria Ciallella, 17, set out on the evening of Oct. 31, 1981, it was likely she was going to run into all manner of ghosts, goblins and ghouls, all in the spirit of Halloween.

But Ciallella never dreamed that she was also about to encounter a real-life monster.

At around 6 p.m., the bright, athletic high school student told her father she was going out and would return around midnight. Soon after the clock struck 12, she was seen walking along Route 88, toward her home in Brick, N.J.

A patrolman on a radio call spotted Ciallella and made a mental note to offer her a lift on his return. He was back within 10 minutes, but by that time, the girl had vanished like a ghost in the night.

It would be about a year and a half before anyone would find out what became of her on that Halloween night.

"Dig Up 2 Bodies; Link to 3 Others," was the Daily News front page on April 20, 1983.

Police found Ciallella's corpse, cut into three pieces and buried in the yard of a rundown blue house in the Charleston section of Staten Island. She was not alone. The shallow grave held the remains of another girl, Deborah Osborne, 17. She had disappeared from a Point Pleasant, N.J., bar the previous April.

The house belonged to a bewildered, elderly woman, Sally Biegenwald, 68, mother of the key suspect in the killings of the two girls, as well as three other murders in New Jersey.

Her son, Richard Biegenwald, 42, had been in trouble since he was 5, but she still stood behind him.

As backhoes dug up her yard and investigators swarmed all over, Mrs. Biegenwald poured her heart out to reporters from The News. "Only God in heaven knows what he's done or the reasons for it," she said. "But he is still my son and I will care for him and visit him. I guess that's what they mean by a mother's love."

Over the years, that love had been tested many times. Her husband, Alfred, was a bitter, abusive alcoholic and her boy, Richard, was a demon from day one. At the tender age of 5, he tried to set fire to the family's Rockland County home and landed in a psychiatric hospital for troubled kids. His childhood was one reform school after another, but none did much good. Biegenwald became wilder and more dangerous with each passing year.

In 1955, at 15, Biegenwald was set loose and sent back to the bosom of his family, which now included only his mom, who had divorced her ornery mate and moved to Staten Island.

Biegenwald enrolled in high school, but nothing in the standard curriculum piqued his curiosity. He was more interested pursuing higher learning in the art of crime, robbery and car theft to start. Within three years, he graduated to murder.

On Dec. 18, 1958, the terrible teen stole a car in Staten Island and, with another young thug, James Sparnroft, 18, stopped at a Bayonne, N.J., deli. Behind the counter was Stephen Sladowski, 47. Sladowski's day job was as Bayonne's assistant municipal attorney, but he was moonlighting as a clerk in the store he bought for his wife four months earlier.

Biegenwald entered the store, leaving his accomplice in the car. Moments later there was a gunshot and Biegenwald bolted from the store and into the car, yelling, "Let's get out of here!"

Police caught the fugitives in Maryland, after a gun battle. Biegenwald was found guilty of murdering Sladowski with a bullet to the chest and was sentenced to life in prison.

Just 17 years later, he was out on parole. He made some half-hearted attempts at a normal life, including wooing and marrying a pretty young woman, Dianne Merseles, over the violent objections of her father and trying his hand at honest work.

But old habits die hard. By 1981, Biegenwald had reconnected with a jailhouse buddy, Dherran Fitzgerald, 52 and began raising hell again.

Just how much hell would not be known until Jan. 14, 1983, when two boys spotted a body in the underbrush behind a Burger King in Ocean Township. It was Anna Olesiewicz, an 18-year-old who, on Aug. 28, 1982, had gone looking for fun on the Asbury Park boardwalk and disappeared. She had been shot four times in the head.

Working on a tip, police ended up at the Asbury Park house occupied by Biegenwald and his wife and Fitzgerald. Police snagged Fitzgerald first and he readily told all, pointing to the locations of two more bodies in Jersey - Betsy Bacon, 17, who had disappeared on Nov. 20, 1982 and William J. Ward, 34, a drug dealer who vanished in September 1982. Finally, Fitzgerald brought investigators to Sally Biegenwald's backyard and the bodies of Ciallella and Osborne.

Police said that Fitzgerald had finked on his old jailhouse pal because Biegenwald had killed his pet cat. Fitzgerald became the key witness for the prosecution when, on Nov. 28, 1983, Biegenwald's trial opened for the murder of Olesiewicz, one of the five people he was accused of killing. The prosecutor maintained that the motive was simply that Biegenwald "wanted to see someone die." He became known as the Jersey Shore "Thrill Killer."

After five hours of deliberation, the jury voted guilty and, after 6-1/2 more hours, chose a sentence of death by lethal injection. In February 1984, a second jury found him guilty of Ward's murder but deadlocked on the question of death or a life sentence. The judge gave him life.

In September, he pleaded guilty to the murders of Ciallella and Osborne and got two more 30-year prison terms.

The cooperative Fitzgerald got off with five years.

Then the appeals began. Biegenwald's first death sentence was overturned, but in January 1989, a new jury again sentenced him to death. The case became a flash point for controversy over the death penalty and his case made it to the State Supreme Court.

In August 1991, the sentence was again overturned and Biegenwald was tucked away in New Jersey State Prison. This time, the monster stayed inside the box, until he died, at age 67, of natural causes on March 10, 2008.


New Jersey Serial Killer Biegenwald Dies

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) Richard Biegenwald, the "Thrill Killer" who took the lives of at least five people but quashed the state's attempts to execute him, died Monday, a state official said. He was 67.

Biegenwald died at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, said Corrections Department spokeswoman Deirdre Fedkenheuer. He had been ill, but the cause of death was not determined Monday, she said.

Biegenwald tried to burn down his family's home at age 5 and was taken to a psychiatric hospital in New York. Three years later, records from a private school for disturbed children showed he had a drinking problem, according to a 1983 New York Times article.

Biegenwald was 18 when he killed Stephen Sladowski, a store owner in Bayonne and an assistant city prosecutor, in a robbery in 1958. He was paroled in 1975 and spent the next several years in and out of jail for parole violations.

In 1980, he married and moved with his wife to Point Pleasant Beach and later Asbury Park. But eventually, he killed again.

He was convicted of killing three female teenagers and a man, drug dealer William Ward, in 1981 and 1982. A prosecutor once said Biegenwald lured Ward to his car and shot him four times in the head because he wanted to see someone die.

The bodies of two of his victims, Maria Caillella and Deborah Osborne, were found dismembered and buried in the same shallow grave in the yard of Biegenwald's mother in New York City's Staten Island.

He was also suspected in at least one other killing but was never charged with it.

He was sentenced to death twice for the killing of Anna Olesiewicz, whom he lured from the Asbury Park boardwalk with the promise of marijuana. It was among the earliest death sentences handed down in New Jersey after the state reinstated the death penalty in 1982.

The state Supreme Court overturned the death sentences, and last year the Legislature abolished capital punishment. The state did not execute anyone in the 25 years that it had the penalty.

Biegenwald remained incarcerated for the rest of his life.


Jersey Shore 'Thrill Killer' Richard Biegenwald accused of killing five in early '80s

By Mara Bovsun - Nydailynews.com

October 31, 2010

When Maria Ciallella, 17, set out on the evening of Oct. 31, 1981, it was likely she was going to run into all manner of ghosts, goblins and ghouls, all in the spirit of Halloween.

But Ciallella never dreamed that she was also about to encounter a real-life monster.

At around 6 p.m., the bright, athletic high school student told her father she was going out and would return around midnight. Soon after the clock struck 12, she was seen walking along Route 88, toward her home in Brick, N.J.

A patrolman on a radio call spotted Ciallella and made a mental note to offer her a lift on his return. He was back within 10 minutes, but by that time, the girl had vanished like a ghost in the night.

It would be about a year and a half before anyone would find out what became of her on that Halloween night.

"Dig Up 2 Bodies; Link to 3 Others," was the Daily News front page on April 20, 1983.

Police found Ciallella's corpse, cut into three pieces and buried in the yard of a rundown blue house in the Charleston section of Staten Island. She was not alone. The shallow grave held the remains of another girl, Deborah Osborne, 17. She had disappeared from a Point Pleasant, N.J., bar the previous April.

The house belonged to a bewildered, elderly woman, Sally Biegenwald, 68, mother of the key suspect in the killings of the two girls, as well as three other murders in New Jersey.

Her son, Richard Biegenwald, 42, had been in trouble since he was 5, but she still stood behind him.

As backhoes dug up her yard and investigators swarmed all over, Mrs. Biegenwald poured her heart out to reporters from The News. "Only God in heaven knows what he's done or the reasons for it," she said. "But he is still my son and I will care for him and visit him. I guess that's what they mean by a mother's love."

Over the years, that love had been tested many times. Her husband, Alfred, was a bitter, abusive alcoholic and her boy, Richard, was a demon from day one. At the tender age of 5, he tried to set fire to the family's Rockland County home and landed in a psychiatric hospital for troubled kids. His childhood was one reform school after another, but none did much good. Biegenwald became wilder and more dangerous with each passing year.

In 1955, at 15, Biegenwald was set loose and sent back to the bosom of his family, which now included only his mom, who had divorced her ornery mate and moved to Staten Island.

Biegenwald enrolled in high school, but nothing in the standard curriculum piqued his curiosity. He was more interested pursuing higher learning in the art of crime, robbery and car theft to start. Within three years, he graduated to murder.

On Dec. 18, 1958, the terrible teen stole a car in Staten Island and, with another young thug, James Sparnroft, 18, stopped at a Bayonne, N.J., deli. Behind the counter was Stephen Sladowski, 47. Sladowski's day job was as Bayonne's assistant municipal attorney, but he was moonlighting as a clerk in the store he bought for his wife four months earlier.

Biegenwald entered the store, leaving his accomplice in the car. Moments later there was a gunshot and Biegenwald bolted from the store and into the car, yelling, "Let's get out of here!"

Police caught the fugitives in Maryland, after a gun battle. Biegenwald was found guilty of murdering Sladowski with a bullet to the chest and was sentenced to life in prison.

Just 17 years later, he was out on parole. He made some half-hearted attempts at a normal life, including wooing and marrying a pretty young woman, Dianne Merseles, over the violent objections of her father and trying his hand at honest work.

But old habits die hard. By 1981, Biegenwald had reconnected with a jailhouse buddy, Dherran Fitzgerald, 52 and began raising hell again.

Just how much hell would not be known until Jan. 14, 1983, when two boys spotted a body in the underbrush behind a Burger King in Ocean Township. It was Anna Olesiewicz, an 18-year-old who, on Aug. 28, 1982, had gone looking for fun on the Asbury Park boardwalk and disappeared. She had been shot four times in the head.

Working on a tip, police ended up at the Asbury Park house occupied by Biegenwald and his wife and Fitzgerald. Police snagged Fitzgerald first and he readily told all, pointing to the locations of two more bodies in Jersey - Betsy Bacon, 17, who had disappeared on Nov. 20, 1982 and William J. Ward, 34, a drug dealer who vanished in September 1982. Finally, Fitzgerald brought investigators to Sally Biegenwald's backyard and the bodies of Ciallella and Osborne.

Police said that Fitzgerald had finked on his old jailhouse pal because Biegenwald had killed his pet cat. Fitzgerald became the key witness for the prosecution when, on Nov. 28, 1983, Biegenwald's trial opened for the murder of Olesiewicz, one of the five people he was accused of killing. The prosecutor maintained that the motive was simply that Biegenwald "wanted to see someone die." He became known as the Jersey Shore "Thrill Killer."

After five hours of deliberation, the jury voted guilty and, after 6-1/2 more hours, chose a sentence of death by lethal injection. In February 1984, a second jury found him guilty of Ward's murder but deadlocked on the question of death or a life sentence. The judge gave him life.

In September, he pleaded guilty to the murders of Ciallella and Osborne and got two more 30-year prison terms.

The cooperative Fitzgerald got off with five years.

Then the appeals began. Biegenwald's first death sentence was overturned, but in January 1989, a new jury again sentenced him to death. The case became a flash point for controversy over the death penalty and his case made it to the State Supreme Court.

In August 1991, the sentence was again overturned and Biegenwald was tucked away in New Jersey State Prison. This time, the monster stayed inside the box, until he died, at age 67, of natural causes on March 10, 2008.


SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: CE/PC/Sex.

MO:  Shot victims during robberies and after rape.

DISPOSITION: Jailed 1958-75; 1983 death sentence commuted to life.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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