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The remains of a Florida teen killed nearly a half-century ago have finally been identified and investigators believe a serial killer cop could be responsible.
For nearly 50 years the remains of a teen “found tied up in the mangroves of an area known as Burnt Bridges” remained unidentified — but “thanks to the advancements of technology, she has been identified as Susan Poole,” the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office announced in a Thursday press release.
Poole was only 15 years old when she vanished around Christmas 1972. Two years later, skeletal remains were found tied up with wire in a cluster of mangrove trees on Singer Island, WPBF reports, and she was nicknamed the Singer Island Jane Doe. Othram Lab determined those remains were Poole's using genetic genealogy, after taking on the case last year.
Now, investigators are trying to determine who killed her — and they have their sights on a now-deceased serial killer cop who lived in her area.
Gerard Schaefer was working as a police officer in Wilton Manors in the early 1970s, and Poole and her family lived in a trailer park in the area at the time.
"Back in the 70s — 72 — there was a gentleman by the name Gerard Schaefer who was a serial killer. If you look him up, he lived in Broward County in the area where Susan Poole lived," Palm Beach County Detective William Springer told WPBF. "He got arrested for kidnapping two girls, taking them out on A1A and tying them up in the mangroves. He was convicted for killing several girls that were also tied up in the mangroves."
The AIA is a scenic highway that runs along the Intercoastal Waterway from Key West to just south of the Georgia border. It goes directly through the area of Singer Island where the remains now known to be Poole's were found.
Schaefer was arrested, tried and convicted in 1973 for the 1972 murders of Susan Carol Place, 17, and Georgia Marie Jessup, 16, who were tied up in mangrove trees in a park in Port St. Lucie and killed in September 1972, according to a 2017 New York Daily News report. Their remains were discovered in April 1973.
He was out on bail at the time of Place and Jessup's murders for the July 1972 abduction of two other teen girls who had been tied up in a different cluster of mangroves but escaped. He was out awaiting sentencing in the abduction case at the time of Poole's disappearance.
Investigators believe he may have killed more girls — possibly up to 30 — according to CBS News. He was stabbed to death in prison by another inmate in 1996. Police were attempting to compile evidence to charge him in three other murders at the time of his death.
Detectives are now trying to find three of Poole’s friends, mentioned by name in the press release: Julie Hunt, Michelle Williamson and Greg Anderson
“These three could help us find the missing piece and give her family closure,” they stated along with a plea for them to speak to investigators.
Anyone with information is urged to reach out to Det. Springer or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.
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