Richard Biegenwald stole another car and went to Bayonne, New Jersey. There, on December 18, 1958, Biegenwald robbed a grocery store with accomplice Frank Spardoff (possibly “Sparnroft”), shooting and killing the proprietor, Stephen Sladowski, an attorney & prosecutor. Biegenwald fled the state after the murder, but was captured two days later in Salisbury, Maryland, after a shooting involving police. Biegenwald was extradited to New Jersey, where he was convicted of murder and given a life sentence. Biegenwald was released in 1975 for good behavior after 17 years imprisonment. Richard Biegenwald worked odd jobs for the next three years and kept a low profile. In 1977, Biegenwald was suspected in a rape, and was wanted for failing to report to his parole officer. Biegenwald was arrested in Brooklyn in 1980 on the rape charge, but was released after the victim failed to pick him out of a lineup. Biegenwald got married, and he and his wife moved to Asbury Park, New Jersey. There, Biegenwald was befriended by Dherran Fitzgerald, who would play a role in several of his future murders.
Richard Biegenwald struck again when he shot and killed 18-year-old Anna Olesiewicz in Ocean Township, New Jersey. Her body was found in January 1983 by children playing in a wooded lot behind a Burger King on Route 35 and Sunset Avenue, fully clothed with no signs of sexual assault and with four bullets in her head. He had found the young woman walking down the boardwalk in Asbury Park, and lured her into his car. A friend of Biegenwald’s wife went to police after Biegenwald showed her another young woman’s body that he had hidden inside his Asbury Park home’s garage. Biegenwald was also suspected, but never charged, in two other killings. One involved the shooting death of John Petrone, an exconvict and sometime police informer, unearthed—minus his jawbone—on a remote New Jersey wildlife preserve. The other case involved Virginia Clayton, 17, abducted and killed on September 8, 1982, her body found three days later, four miles from the site where Petrone was buried.
Police surrounded Richard Biegenwald’s home on January 22, 1983, where Dherran Fitzgerald also lived. Police lured Biegenwald out of his house using a ruse and when he stepped off his back porch, he was grabbed by officers. Fitzgerald saw the commotion and hid himself in a secret room with several weapons. Detectives located the room and after threatening to shoot through the wall, he surrendered. A search of the home revealed a large cache of weapons and drugs. Police confiscated several pipe bombs, handguns, rifles, shotguns, a machine gun, Rohypnol, chloral hydrate, marijuana, a live puff adder, venom collecting apparatus, and floor plans for several area notable residences and businesses. During questioning, Fitzgerald told police of a third body, that of a young woman, that Biegenwald had shown him hidden in his garage. This victim was driven to the rear of Burger King in Ocean Township, and dumped in the wooded area behind. Fitzgerald told police that he helped Biegenwald transport another body to his mother’s house in Staten Island and bury it in the basement. Fitzgerald went on to say that while he was digging in the basement, he exhumed a body that Biegenwald had buried there some time before. Fitzgerald led police to three other bodies in addition to the two buried in Staten Island.
As the investigation went on, police located a ninth victim, William Ward, who was buried in a shallow grave in Neptune City, New Jersey. Ward was a prison escapee whom Biegenwald had befriended. The friendship was apparently short lived, as Biegenwald shot Ward four or five times in the head and then disposed of the body at a cemetery nearby. Police only had enough evidence to charge Richard Biegenwald with five counts of first degree murder. Fitzgerald turned state’s evidence and his testimony was crucial in convicting Biegenwald. In return for his testimony, Fitzgerald was only charged with one count of possession of a weapon and one count of accessory to murder after the fact, and served a 10-year prison sentence. Fitzgerald was released from New Jersey State Prison in 1994. A Monmouth County jury found Biegenwald guilty on all five counts of first degree murder. Biegenwald was sentenced to death by lethal injection, but the sentence would later be overturned by an Appellate Court. Until his death, he was serving four life sentences without the possibility of parole at New Jersey State Prison. Richard Biegenwald died on March 10, 2008 at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, New Jersey, said Corrections Department spokeswoman Deirdre Fedkenheuer in an interview to the Associated Press. An autopsy revealed that Biegenwald died of respiratory and kidney failure.
- August, 24, 1940
- Rockland County, New York
- March, 10, 2008
- Trenton, New Jersey
Cause of Death
- respiratory and kidney failure