Kendall Francois, New York City USA

Eat Shit And Die

Eat Shit And Die

★Filthy European★
A.K.A.: "The Poughkeepsie Killer"

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Hid the bodies in the house that he shared with his parents
Number of victims: 8
Date of murders: 1996 - 1998
Date of arrest: September 1, 1998
Date of birth: July 26, 1971
Victims profile: Wendy Meyers, 30 / Gina Barone, 29 / Catherine Marsh, 31 /Kathleen Hurley, 47 / Mary Healey Giaccone, 29 / Michelle Eason, 27 / Sandra Jean French, 51 / Catina Newmaster, 25 (prostitutes)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Poughkeepsie, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 8 consecutive life sentences on August 11, 2000
Eat Shit And Die

Eat Shit And Die

★Filthy European★
The Disappeared

During the late 1980s, when Argentina was experiencing a great deal of political unrest, opponents to the government suddenly began to vanish off city streets. Frantic relatives appealed to the authorities who would do little or nothing to help them. A strong suspicion developed that the government was deeply involved in the abductions. In truth, these people were kidnapped by the police themselves who frequently tortured or murdered the unfortunate victims. Many were never seen again. They were called "los desaparecidos," the disappeared.

Something similar happened in Dutchess County in upstate New York during the years 1997 and 1998. But "los desaparecidos" in this case were not being abducted for political reasons. There were much darker motives. And when the truth emerged, it would leave in its wake at least eight women dead and a frightened, angry community that was dumbfounded that a serial killer could live and work undetected within their midst.

The Women

In October 1996, one Wendy Meyers, age 30, was reported missing to the Town of Lloyd Police, in Ulster County, New York. She was described as a white female, with a slim build, hazel eyes and short brown hair. She was last seen at the Valley Rest Motel in Highland, a small town situated near the banks of the Hudson River just south of Kingston.

Two months later, in early December, 1996, one Gina Barone was reported missing to the police by her mother, Patricia Barone. Gina was 29 years old and had a small, petite build, brown hair and an eagle tattooed on her back. On her right arm she had another tattoo that read simply "POP." She was last seen November 29, 1996 in the City of Poughkeepsie on a street corner apparently having a dispute with a man.
Eat Shit And Die

Eat Shit And Die

★Filthy European★
Downtown Poughkeepsie

Poughkeepsie is a small city of 28,000 located 90 miles north of New York City. Dutchess County has a long and dramatic history that can easily be traced back to the Revolutionary War. Like any other modern municipality though, Poughkeepsie has its problems. There is a small but persistent drug trade centered in the downtown area that periodically erupts into violence. Prostitutes can often be seen working the same area and shootings are not at all uncommon. Some say Gina was arguing over drugs on that November 29. But in any event, it was the last time anyone could remember seeing her alive.

The missing persons report was filed with the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department and assigned to the Detective Division. On January 1, 1997, the Divison came under the command of Det. Lt. Bill Siegrist, a 29-year veteran of the department. Although Wendy Meyers' disappearance was filed with the Town of Lloyd Police Department, she was well known to Poughkeepsie Police and frequented the downtown area of the City. Lt. Siegrist became interested in the two cases. It seemed implausible that two girls who traveled in the same circles in the same city should suddenly disappear. "It seemed like more than a coincidence," he said recently.

Then in January 1997, Kathleen Hurley, 47, disappeared. She was last seen walking along Main Street in the downtown area of Poughkeepsie. Kathleen, like the others, was white, had brown hair and a small build. The letters "CJ" were tattooed on her left bicep. Although it is not unusual for police to receive missing person reports, the three cases, Hurley, Meyers and Barone, seemed related. But people are reported missing for many reasons. Family disputes, simple runaways, drugs and a nomadic lifestyle are just a few of those reasons. Sometimes people are arrested in other jurisdictions and they neglect to notify their families. In other cases, people will simply move on to new areas only to return a short time later. In most cases, the missing person turns up within a few days and the report is subsequently cancelled.

Nevertheless, the City of Poughkeepsie Police were already interested in the cases. Lt. Siegrist made an inquiry to the Neighborhood Recovery Unit (N.R.U.), which is the department's narcotic unit. N.R.U., like most police narc units, spends a lot of time on the streets and deals extensively with confidential informants (c.i.), drug dealers, convicted criminals, prostitutes and other street dwellers almost on a daily basis.

Usually, these units are a wealth of current information. N.R.U. reported back to Lt. Siegrist that some of the Main Street prostitutes were complaining of a local man who was rough with the girls and had been known to be violent during sex. They said his name was Kendall Francois who lived over on Fulton Avenue in the Town of Poughkeepsie, just minutes from the city's downtown area. Lt. Siegrist, upon hearing this information, then contacted the Town of Poughkeepsie Police and made an inquiry about Francois. They reported that Francois had recently been the subject of an assault complaint by a prostitute.

Armed with this information, detectives decided to maintain a video and periodic surveillance of Francois' home at 99 Fulton Avenue. But after several weeks of watching the residence in January 1997, no new information was developed. One prostitute cooperated with the police and allowed herself to be wired up and meet with Francois. The girl worked her usual spots in the city's downtown area until Francois arrived in his white Toyota Camry. Although she had clear instructions not to get into his vehicle, the girl engaged Francois in conversation on a number of occasions. Police monitored these meetings but again, no useful information was obtained.

Two months later, on March 7, 1997, a woman named Catherine Marsh was reported missing by her mother. Catherine was last observed November 11, 1996 also in the City of Poughkeepsie. Four months had passed since she was last seen alive which made her case very difficult to investigate. Like the other girls, she was white, small build, blue eyes and brown hair. Her clothes and personal items were still at her apartment. Teletypes from across the nation were checked for recently discovered D.O.A.s who had not been identified. It is a routine practice for police to attempt to match up unidentified bodies with reports of the missing. Rap sheets were requested on all the missing girls to ascertain if they were in custody somewhere.

Canvasses were made of the neighborhoods where the women frequented and arrest records were checked and re-checked. Specially trained cadaver dogs from the Ramapo Rescue Squad were utilized to search areas in and around the city. The case came to a frustrating standstill with no workable leads and no viable suspects. But as Lt. Siegrist pointed out: "We had no evidence of criminality." So on the surface, the cases were simply a series of missing persons reports. But on another level, the Detective Division was convinced something had happened.

In April, 1997 Poughkeepsie Police made a decision to contact the F.B.I. for help. The F.B.I. has a vast network of resources and national experts that often assist local police agencies in criminal investigations. Although the F.B.I. investigators were interested, they were limited by the circumstances of the case. In order to establish a profile of a suspect, they needed a crime scene. In this instance, there was no crime scene and worse, it had not been established that a crime had even occurred. Simply put, there was not much the F.B.I. could do.

On October 9, 1997, Michelle Eason, 27 years old, was reported missing in the City of Poughkeepsie. She too was last seen in the downtown area but unlike all the others who were white, Michelle was an African American. She was also slight of build, barely 5'2 and 115 lbs.

Then, just one month later, on November 13, Mary Healy Giaccone, 29 years old, was reported missing. But this report was actually initiated by the police. Mary's mother died in October 1997. Mary's father, a retired New York State corrections officer, came to the police to ask for help in locating her so he could give Mary the bad news. But police soon discovered that Mary was actually last seen alive in February, 1997 on the same Poughkeepsie streets as some of the others. And like all the others, Mary was small, 5'4" and weighed 110 lbs.

Police increased their efforts on the case. The similarities between the girls were striking. All the girls lived in or near Poughkeepsie, all had the same physical build, several of the girls had been arrested for prostitution and most did not have regular contact with their families. But all shared one common bond: they had simply vanished.
Eat Shit And Die

Eat Shit And Die

★Filthy European★
The Investigation

For the next few months, the police tried many different tactics to locate the missing women. Helicopter searches were made of the Dutchess County area by air. The Hudson River was searched on a regular basis by the State Police and municipalities along the shores. Police informants were pressed for any information on the case. Hundreds of people were interviewed. With no hard evidence and above all, no bodies, police were stumped. Although they realized the suspicious nature of the disappearances, the investigation was at a standstill.

But there was an ominous feeling among the detectives. A former F..B.I profiler, Gregg McCrary, told the Associated Press that the disappearances "were well beyond suspicious". And because some of the women were prostitutes made the situation worse because prostitutes get into cars with just about anyone at anytime.

To complicate the situation further, different suspects continuously drifted in and out of the case. One man, who had arrived in the Poughkeepsie area in the summer of 1997 from the South became a suspect when it was revealed he was a convicted rapist. He was also mentioned in a missing persons case down South. Almost to the very end of the case, this individual was considered a suspect in the disappearances. Another city resident came to the attention of the police when prostitutes said that he was very rough with the girls during sex.

In June of 1997, another local man was arrested for the rape and assault of a Poughkeepsie woman. Later he was found to be in custody during the disappearances of the first three women. A boyfriend of one of the missing was also considered suspect because he had an extensive criminal record and assaulted women in the past. But as various suspects were developed and abandoned, Kendall Francois remained on the list.

Slowly, the public grew more concerned. A story on the case was published in The Poughkeepsie Beat in April, 1999. Another article appeared later in The Poughkeepsie Journal in November, 1997. Criticism of the police was growing. There was a feeling in the community that the police were not taking the reports seriously since the missing women may have been prostitutes. Early on, street people were well aware of the situation since they were accustomed to seeing these women on a daily basis. The disappearances were very obvious to them. But the police rejected the criticism. Lt. Siegrist said "These girls don't have set schedules. It took time for the families to realize something was wrong, and then they even thought for a while they might turn up" (Albany Times Union, p. A1).

By the time the stories began to appear in the papers, the City of Poughkeepsie Police were already working the case for more than 8 months. Of course, the public could not be told of the details of that investigation. For now, the police had to take criticism mostly in silence.

In early January, 1998, Poughkeepsie Police made a decision to interview Francois about the missing women. They began to stake out the Francois home at 99 Fulton Avenue. Police soon discovered that Francois had a routine that he often followed. In the morning he would take the family car, drive his mother to work at a nearby psychiatric center, where she was a nurse, drop her off and then return to downtown Poughkeepsie where he would cruise the streets.

On a cold morning in January, Lt. Siegrist and his detectives pulled over Francois and asked him to come into the police department for an interview. Francois, who had a calm and respectful demeanor, readily agreed and drove his own car over to the police station. Francois was interviewed over a period of several hours and answered all questions police asked of him. Of course, police still had no concrete ideas exactly what had happened to the missing girls and no clue where they could be found. But Francois was easy to talk to and cooperative.

The police, however, were not convinced. Poughkeepsie police accompanied him to his home where Francois even let a detective inside his room for a brief time. The detective reported back that the inside of the house was in horrendous condition. There was garbage virtually everywhere he could see. It smelled awful. But Francois made no admissions and said nothing incriminating. By law, he was free to go about his business.

Then in late January, 1998 Kendall Francois was arrested for the crime of assaulting a prostitute. The crime took place on the second floor of 99 Fulton Avenue. At that time , the girl said she was picked up by Kendall Francois on Cannon Street, Poughkeepsie near South Hamilton. Kendall drove her to his house where he took the girl up to his room on the second floor. They had a dispute over money and Kendall punched her in the face knocking the girl down onto the bed. He then got on top of her and began to choke her with his bare hands. She agreed to have sex with him and when he finished, he brought the girl back to Cannon Street. The victim reluctantly reported the incident to the police and pressed charges against him. Francois was arrested and received the assistance of an attorney. Later, on May 5, he pled guilty to 3rd degree assault, a misdemeanor, in City Court. He spent a total of 15 days in jail.
Eat Shit And Die

Eat Shit And Die

★Filthy European★
More Vanish

On June 12, 1998, Sandra Jean French, 51, disappeared. She was white, 5', just 120 lbs., hazel eyes and a very slight build. She was reported missing from the small Town of Dover, which is about 20 miles east of Poughkeepsie. Her car was found abandoned in the Town of Poughkeepsie by New York State Police on June 15. It was located barely three blocks from the Francois home.

In July, 1998, the Missing Women's Task Force was formed consisting of City of Poughkeepsie, Town of Poughkeepsie and New York State Police personnel who worked on nothing else except this case. The City contributed two investigators, the Town gave one detective, the New York State Police gave two investigators. The task force would be under the command of City of Poughkeepsie Sgt. Michael Horkan.

The unit took up residence in the city's downtown area at Market and Main Street, not far from the police station. But the existence of the team was not announced nor was it publicized. The formation of this team was an unusual event because task forces such as these are usually assembled after bodies are found and foul play is apparent. The work load was enormous. Each tip or scrap of information had to be evaluated and acted upon.

Every day detectives studied the teletypes from National Crime Information Center (NCIC). These teletypes originate from every police municipality in the nation and report on every single unidentified body in America 365 days a year. Attempts to match up any of the girls to the reports were fruitless.

Many on the investigative team were convinced that the girls were already dead, the victim of some unknown serial killer. Others were not so sure. But the task force was ordered not to talk about any details of the case, an essential point to any successful police investigation. The need for confidentiality is paramount in murder investigations, more so in a multiple homicide. The revelation of some significant detail or the publication of some other aspect of the investigation could alert the killer and wreck the case. Or worse, induce the killer to flee. "It's a possibility that they are linked" State Police Investigator Monte Martin told the [Journal] on July 26, 1998, "but we can't say anything at this point".

Just two months later, on August 26, 1998, another woman, Catina Newmaster, 25 years old, vanished. Like almost all the others, she was slight of build, brown hair and was last seen in the same downtown streets of Poughkeepsie.

At the police department, pressures to solve the case were enormous. A sudden feeling of urgency descended upon the community. There was real fear on the streets. People were afraid to come outside, especially street dwellers. "We're low lifes, that's what it comes down to. People don't care that we're missing because they think we don't belong on the streets in the first place. It's not just the police, it's the community" a prostitute told the Journal on July 26, 1998. But they were wrong, the police were taking it very seriously and had been for nearly 22 months. Thousands of hours of investigative work and man hours were already expended on the case. The City of Poughkeepsie Police, Town of Poughkeepsie, Town of Llyod, the New York State Police and the F.B.I had all worked together on the investigation which had grown to epic proportions. The families of the missing girls were numb from worry. In a prophetic statement to the Albany Times, Patricia Barone, whose daughter had been missing nearly two years, said: "If they find one of them, they'll find all of them, I'm sure of that". She didn't know how right she was.

Of course, she had no way of knowing, no one knew, that not far from the Market Street office, where the members of the task force diligently processed their paperwork every day, a house of horrors awaited them. The home was set on a quiet residential block, in the shadow of famous Vassar College; a dark, gloomy, two-story house virtually across the street from a funeral home. A house that neighbors and children knew well. They saw it every day as they walked to work, parked their cars, rode their bicycles, played on the street. The local mailman and some neighborhood kids, the usual delivery people, they knew it too. They all knew the house well, because it stunk to high heaven.