On August 3rd, 1984 a Bensalem family reported their 14-year-old daughter missing. Nearly two-weeks later Barbra Rowan’s body was found decomposed along U.S 1 and North River Drive.
The case remained a mystery until 2015 when a suspect was arrested in Florida. George Franz Shaw, 57, was charged with first-degree murder, rape, and possession of an instrument of a crime.
Shaw, then 24, lived off Old Lincoln Highway in the Trevose section of Bensalem Township and the Rowan family lived nearby. Barbra was known to frequent neighbors houses to play with their pets and Shaw’s toddler daughter.
The week long non-jury trial will move to the end of July due to Common Pleas Court Judge Wallace Bateman’s request to review the material presented.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Schorn led the prosecution. She called several witnesses to the stand, including a former Montgomery County man who reported Shaw’s role in the alleged murder two years ago.
Robert Sanders, 53, testified he was at Shaw’s apartment in August 1984 to inject methamphetamine. He told police he helped Shaw rid of Rowan’s body.
Sanders painted a picture of that day to the Judge and referred to Rowan as Shaw’s “babysitter”. He said he recalled sitting on the couch, preparing to use, and hearing Shaw in his bedroom making a lot of noise.
He then said Shaw came from the bedroom and said he made a mistake. Sanders described seeing a girl on the bed face down wrapped in black bags.
The only reason Sanders helped the claimed rapist and murderer hide the body was because he knew Shaw could act like “an animal.”
Sanders will be sentenced in September to two felony counts of hindering apprehension or prosecution.
Shaw’s attorney Louis Busico presented no witnesses. He argued that Sanders is unreliable due to years of drug abuse and drinking.
Busico stated there is zero evidence of sexual assault or intentional killing.
The verdict is expected Monday afternoon in Doylestown.