I've Been Thinking About Murder Lately.
Shaw is not your average serial killer, though. Described by friends and family as an “explosive” young man prone to violence who once shot a television set and threatened his roommate’s life during an argument over doing the dishes. Shaw learned to hide his violence and turn it into different channels.
His first victim was probably Jay Rickbeil, the man for whose murder Shaw was sentenced today. Rickbeil, a paraplegic and proselytist for New Age beliefs, was found dead in his Southeast Portland apartment on July 3, 1991. His carotid artery was cut and he had bled to death. Rickbeil was known as someone who invited strangers to his home to talk and may have given his killer a card with his address on it.
The police had no suspects in Rickbeil’s death until police matched his DNA with a blood sample from Rickbeil’s home in 2001. By that time Shaw was already in jail, sentenced to two life terms for the murder of Donna G. Ferguson, 18, and Todd A. Rudiger, 28, in their Southeast Portland mobile home on July 17, 1992.
Police had no suspects in the 1992 killings until Shaw was connected, again through DNA, to a southeast Portland rape in 1995. The reason Shaw was able to elude police for so long is that he did not know his victims. That’s why he killed them.
In July, 1991 Shaw was suspended from his job at Paragon Cable for making frightening or offensive statements. In a rage he decided to act out his fantasy of killing someone. He decided the best way not to get caught would be to kill someone he didn’t know. That same day he killed Jay Rickbeil.
A year later Shaw was working as a security guard and became very angry at two coworkers. He was so angry he wanted to kill them, but knew that he would be the main suspect if he did. Instead he picked a couple at random and murdered them in their home.
When Shaw was arrested police seized his diary. It became clear from his writing that he had been thinking about killing for quite a while before he acted. An entry from February 1991 said, “I’ve been thinking about murder lately.” Another entry read, “My soul, now rotten, only wants to spread rottenness to others… Damn this creature I have become, for it is a dark beast.”
In 1994 Shaw was arrested driving a stolen car. In the trunk police found a blindfold, plastic ties, pepper mace, a throwing knife, a roll of duct tape, a lead weight tied in the end of a sock, two ski masks, six packages of surgical gloves and three sexually explicit magazines. In 1995 a woman was raped in her apartment near the Safeway on Hawthorne Blvd. where Shaw worked as a checker.
Police suspected Shaw right away, but couldn’t tie him to the crime. They asked Shaw for a DNA sample, but he refused to give it. They eventually got his DNA from a cigarette butt he threw away and they tied him to the rape. Shortly after that the Ferguson-Rudiger killings were also matched to his DNA.
In 1998 Shaw was indicted for the murders of Ferguson and Rudiger. He offered to confess to a “package” of murders. Skeptical detectives took Shaw’s offer seriously because of the nature of his crimes; selecting strangers, stalking them and preparing carefully before the killings.
Robert Gebo, a retired Seattle police homicide detective and serial killer expert, after examining the evidence in Shaw’s case concluded that Shaw is a dangerous predator who probably has killed other vicitms. "In our business, we would say the probability of him just sitting on his hands in the intervening years and doing nothing is slim to none," Gebo said.
In 2000 Shaw plead guilty to the Ferguson-Rudiger murders, avoiding the death penalty. By then he was not willing to talk to the police about other victims and they had not been able to connect him to any other cases. Then came the DNA match in the Rickbeil case. How many others are there? Only Shaw himself knows and he’s not talking any more.