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Shauna Howe was an 11-year-old girl whose October 1992 rape and murder received much media attention in Pennsylvania for more than ten years. Howe was walking home from a Girl Scouts Halloween party in Oil City, Pennsylvania and was two blocks from home when she was kidnapped at the corner of West First and Reed streets.[1] Two days later, a member of Howe's family found a piece of Howe's gymnast costume near an abandoned railroad bed in a rural, wooded area in Rockland, Pennsylvania. Despite a search of the area the day before, Howe's body was found about 200 yards from where the clothing was found the next morning. Howe's abductors had thrown her from a railroad trestle into a dry, rocky creek bed near Coulter's Hole in Rockland; she died of blunt force trauma to the head and chest resulting from the fall.

The mystery of Howe's disappearance and murder continued for nearly ten years until the investigation had a major break. In 2002, a DNA sample taken from Oil City resident James O'Brien, who was serving a prison sentence for attempting to kidnap an Oil City woman in 1995, matched a sample of DNA found on Howe's body in tests run by the FBI lab in Washington, DC. The revelation intensified the investigation, with increased presence in the area by state police and the FBI. The state police searched the home of Eldred "Ted" Walker, who said he may have opened his home to some "really bad" people once who may have done "a disgusting thing."[1]

In September, 2006 Walker pleaded guilty to kidnapping and third degree murder and agreed to testify against O'Brien and his brother, Timothy O'Brien. In October that same year the brothers were found guilty of kidnapping, conspiracy and second and third degree murder, but were acquitted on charges of first degree murder and rape.

Following Howe's murder, the Oil City Council voted to prohibit night-time trick-or-treating. The ban remained in place for 15 years, before being lifted in time for Halloween 2008.[2]


  1. ^ a b Thompson, Lisa (2002-03-16). "DNA link ignites Howe case" (in English). The Derrick (Venango Newspapers, Inc.). Retrieved 2006-10-28.  
  2. ^ Plushnick-Masti, Ramit (2008-10-30). "Real Halloween Back for Long Traumatized Pennsylvania Town" (in English). Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-10-30.  


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