News10NBC Investigates: Death of women originally linked to serial killer Shawcross remains open case

Death of women originally linked to serial killer Shawcross remains open case

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For many of you, especially the families of his victims, hearing the name and seeing the face of Arthur Shawcross may evoke terrible memories. He murdered 11 women in the late 1980s, burying their bodies around the county.

The case of one woman, linked to Shawcross early on, has never been solved, and it has haunted two women who believe they may have been the last to see her alive.

They’ve never told their story until now. 

In October 1989, Kristin Beaton and her friend Wendy Malcolm were 19 years old, back from college for the weekend, and heading home to Hilton after a night out in the city. But as they drove on I-490 westbound and approached the canal just before I-390, their lives changed.

“A woman just runs out in front of us and we have to slam on our breaks,” Beaton said. “She had blood on her and everything.”

Beaton says they saw a man come out from the dark after the woman and get into a car parked on the side of the highway. The girls wanted to call 911, but this was 1989. So they had to drive and find a pay phone. They found one at the Lyell Avenue Wegmans.

Before police got to I-490, the woman crawled into the middle lane and was hit and killed by a car.

“It’s more than, she got hit by a car,” Beaton said. “Someone brutally attacked her and that has been kind of not out there.”

The woman killed was Linda Lee Hymes. At the same time she was killed, police were finding the bodies of women around the county, usually near water. In Democrat & Chronicle stories and News10NBC special reports in late 1989 and early 1990, Hymes was among the list of potential victims of Arthur Shawcross.

His targets were always prostitutes. Both Hymes and Shawcross lived on Alexander Street, less than half a mile apart.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter, Berkeley Brean: “For a long time you have felt that the person, the man you saw on that highway, could have been Arthur Shawcross.”
Kristin Beaton: “I still do, yeah.”

To learn more, Berkeley went to meet retired RPD investigator Lynde Johnston.
“Linda Lee Hymes,” Berkeley said“If you look at the old D&C articles she’s among the list of possible victims of Arthur Shawcross.”

“Well anybody that had a lifestyle, I’ll say, at that time we didn’t want to overlook anything so we put them all up,” Johnston said from his kitchen table. “We had charts on all of them. We looked for commonalities.”

Johnston was one of the RPD investigators assigned to the serial murders.

“She is not, however, one of the official victims,” Berkeley said. “Why not?”

“Well, for some reasons which I can’t disclose because the case is, believe it or not, still open. So I got to be careful but it just didn’t match,” he said.

At one point Johnston said 17 women were potential victims. In the end, Shawcross was convicted of killing 11.

Hymes was not one of them. But her case is still open.

Berkeley Brean: “Why would the case still be open?”
Lynde Johnston, RPD investigator (ret.): “They’re never closed.”
Berkeley Brean: “But she was hit by a car. That was her cause of death.”
Lynde Johnston: “That’s true. But there is something that happened prior to that. There was at least an assault that happened.”

After her death, News10NBC did a Crime Stoppers story on Hymes. State Police closed I-490 for the re-enactment. With the voice of News10NBC’s Warren Doremus, the story re-played Hymes running out in front of the girls’ car. But it also describes the man who got into the car as being black.

That was one of the reasons Hymes was dismissed as a possible Shawcross victim.

Watch the News10NBC Crime Stoppers report on the death of Linda Lee Hymes:

Crime Stopper Report on the death of Linda Lee Hymes

“Maybe someone will consider looking at her case again,” Beaton said

Beaton reached out to News10NBC about her story in February. She says she was interviewed by police twice, but she can’t recall her description of the man in the car. Berkeley told her what police told him.

Berkeley Brean: “They’re pretty convinced that it was not Shawcross.”
Kristin Beaton: “Okay.”
Berkeley Brean: “It was somebody, but it wasn’t him.”
Kristin Beaton: “So, that makes me even more want this story out there. Because if it wasn’t Arthur Shawcross, then it was someone that hurt her and that person could be walking this earth right now and she deserves justice.”

Beaton told Berkeley she pictures Linda Lee Hymes every time she drives I-490 west. She has always felt guilty about driving away in search of a pay phone. She wonders if Hymes’ life would have been saved if she and her friend had just stayed there. 

News10NBC learned Hymes was buried at Riverside Cemetery on Lake Avenue. With the help of a map and cemetery staff, we found her grave site. It’s plot 203.

A small metal marking buried four inches under the ground is the only thing that signifies her final resting spot.

Berkeley hasn’t been able to find any of Hymes’ relatives. He reached out to the funeral home that did her service 35 years ago, and hopefully they’ll be able to connect that way.
The RPD records show the last report in Hymes’ file was in 1991. RPD says all the investigators who worked on her case are retired, but someone will get assigned if new information comes in now.