Trial opens in rape, killing of teenager – 33 years later

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Robert Rowan recalled the day 33 years ago that he identified the remains of his 14-year-old daughter. “Just a skeleton,” he testified Tuesday in Bucks County Court. “Your only child.”

Rowan and his wife, Patricia, taking the witness stand on the opening day of the cold-case trial of  George F. Shaw, 56, of Geneva, Fla., charged with raping and killing the teenager, recalled the day that she went missing.

Right before she disappeared on Aug. 3, 1984, the girl had been playing outside in the trailer park on Old Lincoln Highway where the family lived. They recounted their frantic search for their only child by foot and in car.

Barbara Rowan, 14-year-old victim of 1984 killing.

Her badly decomposed body was found 13 days later in a wooded area of Bensalem Township.

However, no arrests were made in the case until October 2015, when Shaw and Robert Sanders, of Willow Grove, were charged in connection with the killing, after a dogged investigation. Sanders pleaded guilty in February to obstructing the long investigation and awaits sentencing.

He is expected to testify at Shaw’s non-jury trial in Bucks County Court.

Investigators say Sanders told them he was in Shaw’s apartment when the girl was killed and that the men put the body in the trunk of Shaw’s car.

Prosecutors say the two men were drug addicts.

Testimony resumes Tuesday afternoon.

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