George Franz Shaw, 57, was sentenced to 13.5 to 27 years in state prison on October 2 for the sexual assault and murder case of a 14-year-old Bensalem girl in 1984.
“You have truly been a beneficiary of the delay in bringing you to justice,” Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Wallace Bateman told Shaw, who continues to deny his guilt and declined to make a statement at his sentencing.
“You are a murderer,” the judge continued. “You have lived 30 years without paying your debt to society [while] the Rowan family has been given a life sentence by your hand … The bottom line is, you took the life of such a young girl, and then you got to live your life.”
Shaw, of Geneva, Florida, was convicted in July of third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime and attempted indecent assault of Barbara Rowan, 14. The non-jury trial found Shaw guilty and gave him the maximum possible sentence under the laws at the time of the 1984 incident.
The case went cold until 2015 when Shaw’s friend and accomplice told authorities he was present during the murder and helped move Rowan’s body. Robert Sanders, 57, was sentenced in September.
Shaw, 24 at the time, and the young girl lived along Old Lincoln Highway in the Trevose section of Bensalem in neighboring residences. Shaw, a methamphetamine abuser, killed the teen and enlisted his fellow user to load Rowan’s body into his trunk and dump it in an overgrown area along U.S 1 and North River Drive.
The girl’s badly decomposed body was found 13 days later, less than a mile from her home. Rowan’s body was found unclothed from the waist down, arms restrained behind her back with wrists and ankles wrapped in industrial-strength tape, as well as her nose and mouth. According to the prosecution, evidence shows signs of asphyxiation and sexual assault. But Shaw was acquitted of a rape charge.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Schorn prosecuted the case. Unchanged by the time was the pain of Rowan’s family, many used for testimony in court.
Rowan described as a red-haired, slender girl was innocent and trusting and sometimes visited Shaw’s apartment to play with his toddler daughter.
“I hope the guilt eats at you for the rest of your life,” Ruth Zielinski, Rowan’s aunt, told Shaw. “May you suffer the same scene over and over in all your thoughts and nightmares.”
Two months after the assault, Schorn told the court, Shaw was caught looking through the window of a teenage Montgomery County girl who lived on the same block as an elderly victim who Shaw sexually attacked and robbed. He pleaded guilty to burglary and indecent assault.
Bateman paid tribute to the work of Bensalem Police Detective Christopher McMullin and Bucks County Deputy Chief of Detectives Michael Mosiniak, who reactivated the investigation more than a decade ago and ultimately solved the case.
“If not for the efforts of Detective McMullin and Detective Mosiniak, there might never have been justice in this case,” the judge said.
McMullin and Mosiniak were assisted by additional members of the Bensalem Township Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives, and the case was prosecuted by Schorn and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Bryant.