Pennsylvania has plenty of history which brings us pride, yet like any other place, plenty of tragic events have unfolded here as well. Murders, terrorism, torture, kidnapping… These events bring sadness to our community. Here are some of the most notorious and cruel criminals from Pennsylvania.
1. Charles Carl Roberts IV
Lancaster county is normally a peaceful part of the state. Yet on October 2, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts IV brought violence to the community when he burst into a one-room schoolhouse and shot ten girls before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. Roberts specifically targeted the girls in the school, ordering the adults and the boys to leave before he lined them up. This incredibly gruesome massacre weighs on the Amish community's memory to this day.
2. Grady Stiles Jr.
One of the most famous and recognizable criminals from Pennsylvania is Grady Stiles Jr., more commonly known as Lobster Boy. A genetic condition called ectrodactyly caused his cleft hands to resemble claws, and throughout his life he toured with a circus, terrorizing all he came across— or at least, those related to him. He drank and smoked heavily and was routinely violent with his wife and children, a violence that culminated in 1979 when he murdered his daughter's fiancé the night before their wedding. Eventually, Stiles' wife hired a teenage sideshow performer to kill her husband, because she felt his very existence put her life and lives of her children in danger.
3. Harvey Miguel Robinson
Allentown doesn't have very good crime rates, but one thing the city hasn't seen much of is serial killers. Robinson is the only serial killer on record from Allentown, and he is also one of the youngest serial killers in American history. From 1992-1993, he raped and killed three women. Today, he sits on death row.
4. Robert Wayne Marshall
In 1992, Marshall committed suicide to avoid arrest— he must have known that his heinous crimes would warrant a serious punishment. He murdered and disemboweled two men in 1988 and 1992.
5. Gary M. Heidnik
Heidnik was executed by lethal injection in 1999 for kidnapping, raping, torturing, and murdering at least six women in his basement in Philadelphia. He was the kind of monster that nightmares are made of. Throughout his life, he was unstable and violent, such as his abusive behavior toward his wife (the marriage did not last long). By 1987, he was holding six women captive in his basement and torturing them through various methods such as electrocution. He was finally caught when he briefly let one of the women leave to visit family and she immediately called 911. As of today, Heidnik is the most recent person to have been executed in the state of Pennsylvania.
6. Harry Alonzo Longabaugh or the Sundance Kid
Perhaps the Sundance Kid is not evil in the same terrifying sense as many of the other individuals on this list, because he did not engage in brutal murders and also has been romanticized in the 1969 film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." He was, however, one of the most notorious outlaws in the country's history through his participation in the most successful string of train and bank robberies in U.S. history. He was born in Mont Clare, Pennsylvania in 1867 and traveled to the west at the age of 15. Though Longabaugh and his gang, the Wild Bunch, are often depicted as nonviolent, in reality they were known to have murdered several people. Longabaugh eventually fled the country with his wife and children and relocated to Argentina.
7. Jerry Sandusky
The previous assistant football coach at Penn State University, Jerry Sandusky, spent plenty of time in the national spotlight a few years ago once his sordid history of sexual abuse was exposed. In 2011, he was charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse of young boys. He met his victims through Second Mile, a charity organization which Sandusky himself started in 1977. Sandusky was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison. He is currently serving his sentence at Pennsylvania's SCI Greene "Supermax" prison facility.
8. Eric Frein
Commonly referred to as the "Cop Killer," Eric Frein famously led law enforcement on a 48-day manhunt during which he took shelter in central Pennsylvania's rugged terrain. Evidence found in his Jeep, which was found partially submerged in a swamp, led police to pursue Frein as the only suspect in the murder of one Pennsylvania State Trooper and the critical injury of another. Frein plead not guilty to 12 charges, which include terrorism and first degree murder. Prosecutors wish to pursue the death penalty.