Serial killer Arthur Shawcross was born on June 6, 1945, and died on November 10, 2008 while serving a life sentence for the murder of 11 women. From his birthplace of Kittery, Maine, his family moved to Watertown, a small town near Lake Ontario in New York State, when he was still a child. Shawcross claims that his adolescence was turbulent, and cites a difficult relationship with both parents, particularly his domineering mother, for his later troubles. He says he also exhibited behavioral problems at an early age, including bed-wetting and bullying.
Shawcross also made extreme reports about his early sexuality. He claimed his aunt sexually molested him when he was 9, and that he had sexual relations with his younger sister. He also admitted to his first homosexual encounter at the age of 11, which he says was followed by experimentation with bestiality.
In contrast to these claims, however, his parents and siblings maintain that he had a normal childhood, and the described events were largely the product of his imagination. There is no way of knowing whose version represents the reality of his upbringing, but what became clear, later on, was that Shawcross would change his stories at will, as he was interviewed by various professionals in the course of their investigations.
From school records it can be independently verified that he was an inveterate truant, with a particularly low IQ, a tendency to bullying and violence and that he came under suspicion for a series of juvenile arson attacks as well as burglaries. He dropped out of school after failing to pass the ninth grade, and the next few years were punctuated with violence and jail sentences. He received his first probationary sentence in December 1963 for smashing a shop window.