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Two men charged over brutal murder of teen babysitter, after 31-year investigation

Police say they’ve solved the shocking 1984 murder of 14-year-old Barbara Rowan.

shawsanders George Shaw (L) and Robert Sanders (R) Source: PA

TWO MEN HAVE been arrested in the 1984 rape and strangulation of a 14-year-old Pennsylvania girl, whose body was found in the woods two weeks after she vanished, police said on Friday.

Authorities said George Franz Shaw was high on methamphetamine when he raped and killed Barbara Rowan, a neighbour in the town of Bensalem, a suburb of Philadelphia.

At the time, she used to babysit his three-year-old daughter.

Robert Scott Sanders, of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania was charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution.

A police affidavit said Shaw, now 55 and living in Florida, was questioned repeatedly by police after Barbara’s body was found, and investigators recovered tape from his home that was similar to the type used to bind the victim.

The break in the three-decade long investigation came last month when, court records show, Sanders told a grand jury he was in Shaw’s home the night Barbara disappeared and saw Shaw take her into his bedroom for about 20 minutes.

The affidavit states:

Sanders said that he saw the bedroom was ‘disarrayed’ and that he saw Barbara Rowan laying on the bed and she was not moving.

Sanders testified that Shaw moved his car to the back of the apartment, went alone into the closed bedroom and then drove away, police said.

barbararowan Undated file photo of Barbara Rowan. Source: Bensalem Police

However, in a subsequent interview with detectives last Friday, Sanders told them Barbara’s body was inside a black bin bag when he went into the room and that Shaw asked him for help.

Sanders, now 51, said he helped Shaw carry her corpse to the car and place it in the trunk, according to police said.

Sanders said they removed the body from the trunk and carried her into the brush on the right passenger side of the vehicle and placed her on the ground.

Barbara was missing for about two weeks when her body was found less than a quarter of a mile from her home by a man looking for his dog.

Local newspaper the Bucks County Courier Times reports that Barbara was about to enter high school, and had just begun wearing makeup at the time of her killing.

She liked reading, Jordache jeans, cats, dogs and hamsters, a family member said.

Bensalem Police Detective Chris McMullin told the Philadelphia Inquirer he had held off on informing Barbara’s family about the arrests until very recently.

I didn’t want to stir up old wounds until we had something to tell them.

Court officials said Shaw was in custody in Florida, and Sanders was in jail in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press

Read: Bodies found in cars in Oklahoma lake may solve decades-old mystery>

Read: Ireland’s cold case detectives say ‘it’s never too late’>

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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