Serial Killer In Allentown
Murder and Rape in Allentown
The peaceful tree shaded suburb of Allentown in Philadelphia was shattered when 29 year old Joan Burghardt, was found raped and bludgeoned to death in August 1992. In June 1993 15 year old Charlotte Schmoyer disappeared one morning while doing her paper route. A resident reported that her newspaper cart was standing unattended near her residence. They send somebody to investigate and eventually her body was found in a wooded area, with twenty two stab wounds and raped. Nearly two weeks later a five year old girl was beaten and raped while her parents slept. She was left for dead but survived.
Her Husband Was Not At Home
Denise San-Cali and her husband John, lived in the same road as her sister and parents. They owned a limousine and bus service and operated the business from offices within walking distance from their house. When John left on an overnight business trip on June 1993, Denise was not nervous to be left alone. In fact she left a few windows open to cool the house. That seems weird if you think that two women had been raped and murdered in the vicinity. I suppose spending your life in a peaceful suburb it just does not penetrate that it could happen to you. She was very brave, as I think most women would not have tolerated to being left alone in the circumstances. Before dawn, Denise woke up and wondered what had woken her. Then she heard a sound in the lounge. At first she thought it was her husband that had returned early, and called out to him. But nobody answered. Then she heard a noise in the bedroom across the passage. She walked into the passage. Not a good idea, she should rather have phoned her family. She banged on the spare bedroom door and shouted at the person inside. That was very brave. She then finally realized that something was drastically wrong and turned and ran down the short passage.
A Serial Killer Was In Their Midst
She heard footsteps and looked back. It was a young man and when their eyes met she saw a cold, blank stare. The murderer held a kitchen knife and raised his hand to stab her. Denise swung her arms upwards by instinct and knocked the knife from his hand. Running to the front door, she nearly had it open, when he grabbed her from behind by her hair. She managed to break free and ran into the front yard. But the murderer grabbed her from behind, and slammed her onto the lawn. Denise was not weak and wrestled to break free. She bit him hard on his upper arm. Then he tightened one hand around her neck and the other over her mouth. He hit her with his fist on her face and head. He raped her while she was dazed and she kept still until she saw him run away. Then she stumbled into the house and phoned the police.
As the police had very little information about the suspect, Denise and John started their own investigation. This guy had to be caught so that they could get on with their lives. John had a security system installed before Denise came home from hospital and he bought a new gun and slept with it close by as Denise now feared for her live. The murderer knew that she could identify him.
They went to visit the mother of the five year old that had been attacked and noticed similarities between the two attacks. They were convinced that it was the same man and that he had also killed the other two women. Then in July, a forty seven year old woman, Jessica Fortney, was found raped and strangled in her home. The police realized that they had a serial killer in their midst.
Residents Were Nervous
A Trap Is Set
A few days later the new security system went off in the early morning hours. John grabbed his gun and found the window in the den open. The police placed two officers on duty to guard Denise and the five year old.They were now both in danger because they could identify him. The officers arrived just before twelve each evening and Officer Lewis who came to the Cali’s home hid behind the couch. Denise was terrified, but her mother said she must stop seeing herself as a victim. Denise had noticed that the murderer seemed to attack near the end of the month. They decided to set a trap for the attacker and invited some friends and family over. When the last of their visitors had left, they left the den window slightly open. Officer Lewis arrived and they went to bed.
The Killer Is Caught
Before 2.00am Officer Lewis heard a noise and the attacker climbed through the den window. There was an exchange of gunfire and the attacker managed to run into the kitchen. He shook the back door but it was locked. By the time Officer Lewis had reloaded he had managed to break the glass panel and escaped. In the process he cut himself. Harvey Robinson was arrested at the Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown when he sought treatment for cuts on his hands and arms. In March 1994 Robinson pleaded guilty to raping Denise and the attempted murder of Officer Lewis. In November 1994 he was convicted of raping and killing Charlotte Schmeyer, Joan Burghardt and Jessica Fortney. He was sentenced to death in the three cases but then appealed against the sentence.
Robinson Appeals Against His Sentence
He made an appeal against his sentence and in 2001 he was re sentenced to life in prison with no parole. In 2016 he appealed against his sentence again. His lawyer said that if he succeeds, he would still not be freed as he is serving two life sentences. His father went to jail before he was born for manslaughter. He had killed his girlfriend by hitting her to death.
Denise said that when she looked into his eyes when he was chasing her, they were cold and blank. Does that not sound like somebody under drugs?
© 2017 Anita Hasch