In early 1997, Poughkeepsie, New York, police became concerned about a rash of recent missing persons. Since October of the previous year three women had disappeared, all petite, white prostitutes. It seemed to be much more than a coincidence. Further alarm was raised when Catherine Marsh was reported missing in March. She had last been seen during the same time frame as the other three women. Police fruitlessly searched rapsheets and Jane Doe listings to try to locate the women but had no success.
On November 13, 1997, Mary Giaccone was reported missing when she could not be located to attend her mother's funeral. She also closely resembled the other women. Police had no promising suspects except a man named Kendall Francois, a lifelong Poughkeepsie resident who lived with his parents. Police surveilled and interviewed Francois and even poked around his bedroom but had absolutely no reason to detain him. He remained just one of many suspects until a January 1998 arrest for assaulting a prostitute in his parents home, for which he served fifteen days in jail.
In June of 1998 Sandra Dean French disappeared from nearby Dover. Her car was found abandoned three days later in Poughkeepsie about three blocks from the Francois home. Then in August Catina Newmaster also disappeared. Like all the other missing women she was a short, petite, white prostiitute, with brown hair and blue eyes in most cases.
On September 1, 1998 police detectives working on the case caught a break. Pulling into a gas station they were confronted by a man who claimed another man had just assaulted a woman nearby. The attacker was Kendall Francois. Officers brought Francois to the station for questioning and he soon admitted to his involvement in the string of disappearances. The police then obtained a warrant for the Francois residence and shortly after midnight that night began a search of the home.
Within an hour a body had been discovered and by the time a search was completed police had recovered eight corpses from the putrid, garbage-filled house, five in the attic and three in the basement. Interested spectators nearby were overcome by the horrid odors of trash and death emanating from the Francois home. Seven of the missing women were among the victims. The other body was that of a woman from New Rochelle who was never reported missing. Only one woman remained missing and she was later mostly ruled out as a possible victim because she is black, while all of Francois' victims were white and found inside his home.
Francois was indicted on eight counts of murder and plead guilty, avoiding a possible death sentenced. Ironically Francois contracted AIDS, possibly from one of his victims. He was eventually sentenced to life without parole. His family denied any knowledge of his deeds. Apparently the stink of garbage in the house covered the odor of the bodies, keeping Francois' family clueless to his murderous activities.