Richard Biegenwald
Born: August 24, 1940New York, United States
Died: March 12, 2008(2008-03-12) (aged 67)
Number of victims: 9 shot, suspected in at least two other murders
Span of killings: 1958–January 4, 1983
Country: U.S.
State(s): New Jersey
Date apprehended: January 22, 1983


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Richard Biegenwald

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Richard Fran Biegenwald (August 24, 1940 – March 12, 2008) was an American serial killer, who committed his crimes in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Between 1958 and 1983, Biegenwald killed at least nine people, and he is suspected in at least two other murders.

Early life

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Born in Rockland County, New York, Biegenwald was frequently beaten as a child by his alcoholic father. At the age of five, Biegenwald set fire to their home and was sent for observation at a Rockland County Psychiatric Center.


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Police surrounded Biegenwald's home on January 22, 1983, while Dherran Fitzgerald was visiting. Both Biegenwald and Fitzgerald were arrested, and a search of the home revealed a small cache of weapons and drugs. Police confiscated a pipe bomb, handguns, a machine gun, Rohypnol, marijuana and a live puff adder, as well as floor plans for several area businesses.

During questioning, Fitzgerald told police of a third body, that of a young woman, that Biegenwald had shown him hidden in his garage. Fitzgerald told police that he helped Biegenwald transport the 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 five times in the head and then disposed of the body.

Police only had enough evidence to charge 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.


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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.


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Biegenwald died 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.

Known victims

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  • Stephen Sladowski -- Shot to death in 1958 after a robbery attempt in Bayonne, NJ.
  • Maria Ciallella -- Shot and dismembered on November 1, 1981. She was buried at Biegenwald's mother's house.
  • Deborah Osbourne -- Stabbed to death on April 8, 1982. She was buried on top of Ciallella's body at Biegenwald's mother's house.
  • Anna Olesiewicz -- Shot four times in the head on August 28, 1982 after being lured away from the Asbury Park boardwalk. Her body was left behind a Burger King in Ocean Township, NJ.
  • William Ward -- Drug dealer shot and killed by Biegenwald at his home in Asbury Park in September 1982.

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