Episode 89: The Town that Cancelled Halloween

On Friday morning, October 30, 1992, the battered body of eleven year old Shauna Howe was found in a shallow creek bed a few miles outside the town of Oil City, Pennsylvania.   Shauna was abducted Tuesday night, October 27, a few minutes after leaving a Girl Scout Halloween event.  For days Oil City police, the Pennsylvania State Police, family and neighbors searched for Shauna, hoping to return her to her family alive.  Sadly, their hopes were crushed when she was found murdered.

While we know small towns aren’t immune to the same tragedies we suffer in bigger cities, Oil City experienced very little violent crime.  Most of their criminal activity centered around property theft and petty crimes.   They weren’t prepared for a case like this one, a little girl abducted on her way home from a Halloween party, just a few blocks from her house.  Oil City, which sits about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh, cancelled Halloween.  No one wanted their children out at night, after dark, for any reason whatsoever.

Police tested DNA from over 100 people in the community, including all the men in Shauna’s family, expecting to get a match to the DNA found on Shauna Howe’s body and clothing, but they didn’t.  It took 10 years for someone to uncover what happened to Shauna, and bring her killers to justice.   Yet once her murderers were behind bars, the city hadn’t reinstated nigh time trick or treating.  Eventually Halloween was reinstated, but only from 2PM till 4PM,  Finally in 2008, a little girl not much different from Shauna Howe convinced Oil City council to let their children trick or treat again at night.

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