Trial to begin in 1984 cold-case slaying of Bensalem girl, 14

The 1984 slaying of a 14-year-old Bensalem girl, which went unsolved for 31 years, is headed for trial Tuesday morning in Bucks County.

George Franz Shaw, 56, of Geneva, FL, is charged with raping and murdering Barbara Rowan in his home in August 1984.

The girl's decomposed body was found 13 days later in a wooded area off the highway. An autopsy later revealed that Barbara died of asphyxiation.

It wasn't until October 2015 that an arrest was made. Bensalem police and Bucks County detectives charged Shaw and a second defendant, Robert Sanders of Willow Grove.

Sanders, 53, pleaded guilty on February 7 to two felony counts of hindering apprehension or prosecution. He admitted giving false and misleading information that impeded investigators, and helping Shaw dispose of the victim's body. Sanders is currently awaiting sentencing and is expected to testify at Shaw's trial.

Prior to the arrests, Sanders acknowledged to investigators that he was in Shaw's apartment at the time of Barbara's killing and that he helped Shaw carry her body from the residence. The men placed the body in the trunk of Shaw's car and transported it to the woods where it eventually was found, Sanders said.

Prosecutors have alleged that Shaw and Sanders were methamphetamine and cocaine addicts who had gone to Shaw's apartment to shoot up drugs. Once there, Shaw allegedly told Sanders he had given his "babysitter" a date-rape drug to relax her.

Sanders told police that he saw a girl fitting Barbara's description walk into the bedroom with Shaw, who closed the door behind them. Shortly after, Sanders heard banging noises coming from the bedroom, prosecutors say.

During the alleged assault, Barbara's father came to the apartment door and asked loudly where his daughter was, prosecutors have said. When Sanders said he didn't know, the man became upset and threatened to call police, court documents state.

A few minutes after the father left, Sanders told investigators, Shaw emerged from the bedroom, sweating profusely and saying repeatedly, "I (messed) up." Sanders said he looked into the bedroom and could see the girl lying still on the bed.

Prosecutors have said that Sanders eventually confided to his brother and a friend about his role, but continued to lie to police until 2015.

The non-jury trial is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. The trial is expected to last at least one week.