People Magazine Investigates Premiered ‘Terror in Philadelphia’ on Investigation Discovery: Air Force SrA Troy Graves Serving Life Sentence for Rape & Homicide (November 12, 2018)

ID Go: In 1998, a gifted Philadelphia graduate student is found murdered in her bed. The hunt for her killer forces police to reevaluate a series of unsolved crimes, turning the city upside down. Will her killer be caught or will he strike again? -Terror in Philadelphia, People Magazine Investigates (S3, E2)

Date of Arrest: April 23, 2002
Offender: Troy Graves, 29, US Air Force service member
Victims: Shannon Schieber, 23, University of Pennsylvania student (rape/homicide), multiple rape victims in Pennsylvania & Colorado
Circumstances: Shannon Schieber was enrolled as a Phd. student at the Wharton School of Business, on May 7, 1998, Shannon was studying for exams when a neighbor heard what sounded like cries for help, he called 911 to report that his neighbor was asking for help, the police arrived but no one answered the door and the neighbor backed off his statement, they searched the property and the neighbor said it could have been outside so they left, Shannon’s brother showed up the next day and Shannon didn’t answer the door, the neighbor told her brother what he heard the night before, they broke into the apartment and found Shannon naked on her bed, Shannon was strangled to death and it appeared she tried to fight off her attacker, police found DNA at the scene, DNA ruled out those close to Shannon, Shannon’s parents were outraged that the man who killed their daughter was in the apartment when the police knocked on her door, but the police did their job right and by the book, a few days before the murder, Shannon reported being followed home one night, she was scared, so police started investigating the stranger angle, perhaps this is a serial rapist, they look into sex crimes in the area, they want to match the DNA to other sex crimes in the area, in February 1999, they got a DNA match, 2 other sexual assaults had occurred but they were coded as misdemeanors, the assaults occurred just a few blocks from Shannon’s apartment, in June and July 1997, two more sexual assaults were connected to the offender bringing the total to 5, the PPD coded these sexual assaults as misdemeanors as well, they downgraded the offenses because it lessoned the load for the police, and made the arrest rate look better than it was, Shannon’s case helped enact change in Philadelphia, if they had investigated these cases, everyone would have known there was a serial rapist, Shannon would not be dead if she knew what was going on, the DNA still didn’t have a match to the offender, in 1997, a sketch was drawn from the recollections of the first victim, they got a new composite, this offender would enter the home, hold the victim down on the bed, rape them or make them perform oral sex, it was about control and domination for this guy and he was also somewhat of a romantic, once they acquiesced, he would treat them like a date, he would get comfortable with the victims, they determined he was a light skinned black male based on information he shared with one victim about his life growing up with bi-racial parents, he was dubbed the Center City rapist, in August 1999, no other cases were reported since Shannon’s murder, the case went cold, the police got a bulletin in 2001 from Fort Collins, Colorado, the offenders modus operandi sounded familiar to the Philadelphia PD, on June 13, 2001, one victim was home when she was attacked from behind and raped, after she acquiesced, the rapist became gentle as if he was a boyfriend, after he left, she called 911, she was his third victim in Fort Collins, they were all blitz attacked, FC police were investigating a serial rapist, a fourth & fifth rapes were reported, he made a mistake and left behind a ball cap at the fifth victims home, Fort Collins DNA was matched to the rapes in Philadelphia, PPD gave FCPD the composite drawing, police received a letter in the mail from the suspect, he was taunting them, in the fall of 2001, the attacks in Fort Collins stopped, meanwhile the PPD started focusing on cross referencing names of suspects with the two geographic locations, they got a match for Air Force service member Troy Graves, he was in Philadelphia, Fort Collins, and now at Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 2002, the police had the new suspect in their sites, the police learned that Troy was also investigated by the Office of Special Investigations, it was over charges of harassing a female colleague, the charges were dropped but there was still something suspicious there, Graves has a clean criminal record and no finger prints on file, the case was circumstantial, they reached out to Graves to come to the police department and do an interview, Troy Graves and his wife showed up to the Fort Collins PD, the police immediately separated the couple, his wife admitted that he had insomnia and went for walks and drives at night and that honestly she thought he was having an affair, meanwhile Troy denied knowing anything about the crimes, the police confronted him about the rapes in Fort Collins, he denied being arrested for any sex crimes, he denied being investigated by the Air Force, he did not want to provide his fingerprints but a warrant was issued to compel him, the fingerprints were a match, Troy Graves was arrested and booked into custody, this case changed the PPD policies on sexual assault to include how evidence is handled and how the victims are treated and interviewed
Disposition: Troy Graves feared a trial would not go in his favor in Fort Collins, Colorado, he pleaded guilty in exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole; Pennsylvania wanted to seek the death penalty but Shannon’s family did not want that because Shannon wouldn’t have wanted that, Graves entered into a plea agreement and got life in prison plus sixty years

Notable Quotes: “We have to change the system but not put people to death.” -Vicki Schieber (Shannon’s mom)

Source: ‘Terror in Philadelphia’ People Magazine Investigates

Shannon Schiebercredit: Courtesy Schieber Family

Shannon Schieber (Photo: People Magazine Investigates)

Related Links:
U. student killed in Center City
Family, friend mourn Schieber’s death
Grief, Questions After Student is Slain
DNA tests clear ex-boyfriend in Schieber murder
Airman arrested in sexual assaults
Center City rapist suspect arrested
Suspected Serial Rapist Arrested
Colo. airman arrested on sex charges suspected as Center City Rapist
Colorado Suspect Is Believed Tied to Other Attacks
Airman trained at VAFB arrested in Colorado sex assaults
Airman’s DNA Linked to Slain Md. Woman
Officials: DNA Evidence Links Colorado Man to Philly Rapes, Murder
Airman Awaits Hearing in Rape Case
Troy Graves: I did it… and ‘I’m sorry’
Serial rapist says he’s sorry
Remorseful airman admits murder, rapes
Admitted serial rapist now will face a charge of murder
USAF content with civilian prosecution of Graves
Serial rapist pleads guilty in Colorado
Graves Pleads Guilty In Philadelphia Rapes, Murder
Victims speak out; Graves gets life
Colorado: Life Sentence For Airman
Airman gets life sentence in string of sexual assaults
A baffling case: The women who loved Troy Graves
The story of Shannon Schieber
Why two mothers back death penalty repeal
A Place of Peace | Bethesda Magazine
Death Penalty Vs. Life: An Issue Of Closure Vs. Peace
Victim’s family moves “from pain to peace”
Investigating rape in Philadelphia: how one city’s crisis stands to help others
Woman advocates repeal of death penalty as part of unconditional pro-life policy
What are Fort Collins’ most infamous moments?
Rape is Rape, Isn’t It? | ProPublica
Rape is Rape, Isn’t It? | The Marshall Project
The Annual Ritual Shaping How the Philadelphia Police Department Handles Rape, Abuse Cases
How one woman changed the way Philly police handle rape
Why is the death penalty discussed in religious terms?
How do you fix a broken system? One U.S. city offers a model for handling sex-assault cases
How a Business Student’s Dying Cries of ‘Help Me’ Eventually Led to a Serial Rapist
Death penalty: Parents of murder victim oppose killer’s execution
Mom of Wharton Student Found Raped, Murdered in 1998 Still Wonders: ‘How Could Somebody Do That?’
Troy Graves | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers
Terror in Philadelphia | People Magazine Investigates | Investigation Discovery (S3, E2)
All Charged Up | Forensic Files | FilmRise

Air Force Retiree Dennis Dawley & Mistress Brandita Taliano Sentenced to Life in Prison, No Parole for the 1991 Bludgeoning Death of Joan Dawley in California (April 15, 1997)

Full Episode: Seeking freedom from his controlling wife, Dennis Hawley begins seeing drug-addicted prostitute Brandita Taliano and supporting her financially. In 1993, when Joan receives an inheritance and makes plans to divorce, Dennis, fearing financial ruin, enlists his lover to help murder his wife. -Second Best, Deadly Women (S8, E10)

Air Force retiree Dennis Dawley, 61, with the help of prostitute and mistress, Brandita Taliano, bludgeoned to death his wife Joan Dawley of 35 years for financial gain in Van Nuys, California. Joan wanted a divorce and Dennis and Brandita wanted her inheritance money. The 1991 case went cold for years until DNA technology under Joan’s fingernails yielded a match to Brandita Taliano. Both Dennis and Brandita were charged with murder, conspiracy & solicitation and faced the death penalty. On April 15, 1997, a California jury sentenced Dawley and Taliano to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The pair were spared the death penalty because they didn’t have any prior violent felony records and the jury heard the emotional pleas from Dawley’s daughters.

Investigation Discovery:

Full Episode: There’s an old saying that a burden shared is a burden halved. But when people team up to commit murder, the weight of their guilt remains just as heavy. Investigators must rely on forensic science to capture partners in crime. -Partners in Crime, New Detectives (S5, E2)

Preview: Brandita Taliano of Los Angeles, California wanted to live the high life. -Second Best, Deadly Women (S8, E10)

ID Go: Being the ‘other woman’ is a lonely life. Some turn rejection into rage. A call girl craved the high life, a teen mom eradicated her rival, and a lesbian love affair ripped a family apart. These Deadly Women refused to play ‘Second Best’. -Second Best, Deadly Women (S8, E10)

ID Go: In suburban California, an intruder brutally attacks and kills Joan Dawley. As the Dawley family grieves, it’s up to LAPD detectives to crack the case. Secret home movies uncover a shocking tale of deceit, and a monster lurking behind the scenes. -Stages of Grief, American Monster (S3, E1)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
Murder Suspects’ Trip Tipped Off Police : Slaying: Widower visited Las Vegas with mistress two days after his wife’s death. The pair are now charged in the killing. (1997)
American Monster: Meet Dennis Dawley – Air Force Vet, Golf Pro & Brutal Wife Killer
Man, 61, Testifies in Wife’s 1991 Slaying (1997)
Husband, Former Mistress Get Life in Wife’s Slaying (1997)
BRANDITA TALIANO, Plaintiff, v. D. L. JOHNSON, et al., Defendant. | United States District Court, E.D. California. | May 14, 2014
The New Detectives: Season 5 – Ep 2 “Partners in Crime”
Mistress Kills Her Lover’s Wife to Escape | Deadly Women (S8, E10)
They Killed His Wife Then Decided To Go On A Las Vegas Holiday | Deadly Women
Second Best | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (S8, E10)
Brandita Taliano Documentary | Female Killers (Deadly Women)
Stages of Grief | American Monster | Investigation Discovery (S3, E1)
American Monster Premiered ‘Stages of Grief’ on Investigation Discovery: Dennis Dawley & Brandita Taliano Murdered Joan Dawley for Cash (July 8, 2018)
Psycho For Love: Dennis Dawley and his mistress, Brandita Taliano, killed his wife, Joan Dawley for the money
Monstresses: Katie Belflower & Brandita Taliano (Season 1: Ep. 2) (2013)
Killer Call Girl: The True Story of Brandita Taliano by Greta Harris (book)

Air Force Sgt. Joseph Snodgrass Hired Hitmen to Kill Wife at Clark AFB in Philippines for $400,000 Life Insurance Payout; Sentenced to Life in Prison (1991)

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Sgt. Joseph Snodgrass, US Air Force

Air Force spouse Julie Snodgrass was found stabbed to death outside Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines on February 26, 1991. Julie was discovered in the cab of her pickup truck on an isolated road off base and an autopsy revealed that she was stabbed more than 42 times. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) had jurisdiction of the case and upon investigation found evidence on Sgt. Joseph Snodgrass’ work computer that linked him to the crime. AFOSI found a letter to his mistress asking for help with the murder of his wife and a current life insurance policy on his wife. The letter disclosed that Snodgrass elicited the help of his housekeeper (and lover), a Philippine native, to hire three hitmen to carry out the crime so they could be together and live off the $400,000 life insurance pay out. In the course of an interview with AFOSI, Snodgrass grabbed the floppy disks with the evidence against him and cut them to pieces with some shears. But luckily computer forensic scientists were able to find a way to put the disks back together so the data was readable again. This was the evidence the Air Force needed to make their murder-for-hire case. In the meantime in June 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted resulting in layers of volcanic ash on Clark AFB and Naval Base Subic Bay. Amidst the chaos, Snodgrass attempted a jail break in August 1991 while awaiting trial but lost his bearings in the ashy mess and eventually surrendered. The eruption’s aftermath triggered the decision to withdraw all American forces from the Philippines. The last troops and ship pulled out of the naval base more than 25 years ago. Joseph Snodgrass was eventually convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. As a result of the forensic history made by piecing the floppy disk back together making it usable again, the military changed the policies pertaining to the destruction of classified data on floppy disks.

Related Links:
American woman found dead in Philippines
The Cataclysmic 1991 Eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines
In the Matter of the Guardianship of Jaime Mary-Jean Snodgrass, a Minor (1997)
AF Computer Forensics Lab nabs criminals, byte by byte
Computer Forensics Investigations: Body of Evidence
Recounting US military’s last days in the Philippines
Information Risk & Security: Preventing & Investigating Workplace Computer Crime
Forensic Files: Shear Luck (YouTube)


When the wife of a serviceman was brutally murdered in the Philippines, the Air Force Office of Special Investigators swung into action. Clues led to the victim’s husband, but he insisted he was innocent. Investigators would have to do something unprecedented: Reassemble a 5 1/4 inch computer disk which had been cut to pieces with pinking shears. -Forensic Files