Springfield murderer in girls’ kidnapping, deaths from 1979-1983 dies in Kentucky prison

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Gary Schaefer, 72, of Springfield, a confessed murderer and suspected serial killer who committed his crimes in the area between 1979 and 1983, died on Nov. 26 while serving a 30 years-to-life sentence in a Kentucky state prison since May 1985.

According to a press release, just after midnight on Nov. 26, staff at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville performed a routine cell check and discovered Schaefer experiencing an acute medical event. Medical staff transported Schaefer by ambulance to a nearby hospital where life-saving efforts proved unsuccessful.

According to the Vermont Department of Corrections, the death does not appear suspicious at this time.

According to Wikipedia, “Schaefer was a murderer, kidnapper, rapist and suspected serial killer thought to be responsible for the murders of three girls in Springfield … between 1979 and 1983. He confessed to two of these murders and remains a suspect in the third, but was convicted of only one.”

In August 1979, a 13-year-old Springfield girl went missing and her remains were found three months later at a rest area near Rockingham. Then in August of 1981, a 12-year-old girl was kidnapped as she rode her bike near her Springfield home. She was found severely beaten with a blunt instrument, partially buried at the foot of a steep hill and left to die. She was hospitalized and died the next day.

In November of 1982, a man kidnapped a 17-year-old Chester girl, who escaped. Then in April 1983, an 11-year-old Springfield girl was kidnapped and murdered.  Schaefer was soon arrested and was tried and sentenced for the killing and kidnapping of the last two victims. Following his sentencing, he admitted to the August 1981 killing, but had been granted immunity in that case.

According to a 2020 population report, Vermont Department of Corrections houses about 15 percent of incarcerated individuals in other jurisdictions. According to a DOC press release a small number of those requiring higher levels of security or protection – including Shaefer – are housed through the U.S. Interstate Corrections Compact.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Ron Patch says:

    It is unfortunate that you felt the need to bring this to our attention. Old scars were reopened by your reporting of this. Let sleeping dogs lie.