Born Andre Rashan, in 1943, the "Pied Piper of Staten Island" employed various pseudonyms to cover his movements and criminal activities through the years.
Between 1966 and '68, using the last name "Bruchette," he worked as a physical therapy aide at New York's Willowbrook State School - later renamed the Staten Island Development Center.
On May 5, 1969, he was arrested in the South Bronx for kidnapping and attempting to rape a nine-year-old girl. Pleading guilty to a lesser charge of sexual abuse, he served sixteen months in prison, winning parole in January 1972.
Back on the street, Rashan legally changed his name to "Rand," logging three more arrests by the end of the decade for "minor" offenses, including burglary. Along the way, his name was linked with disappearances of several children.
Rand was working as a painter at a South Beach, Staten Island, apartment house when five-year-old Alice Pereira vanished from one of the flats in 1972, but officers were short on solid evidence required for an indictment. Nine years later, in July 1981, Rand was hauled in for questioning in the disappearance of seven-year-old Holly Hughes, from Port Richmond, and once more he was released for lack of evidence.
On January 9, 1983, Rand collected eleven children from West Brighton, loaded them into a van, and set off on a five-hour jaunt into Newark, neglecting to ask parental permission.
They spent the day eating hamburgers and watching planes land at Newark airport, and while none of the children were harmed, Rand was arrested on charges of unlawful imprisonment, convicted in March and sentenced to ten months in jail. He was back on the street by August, listed as a suspect when ten-year-old Tiahese Jackson vanished on Staten Island. No trace of the three missing girls had been found by July 9, 1987, when 12-year-old Jennifer Schweiger disappeared from her home at Westerleigh.
A victim of Downe's syndrome, Jennifer was traced to the grounds of the deserted Staten Island Development Center, where Rand had been living for several years in a makeshift shelter of his own design. Witnesses reported seeing Rand with Jennifer the day she disappeared, and after some preliminary questions, he was charged with her kidnapping on August 4, held without bail pending a psychiatric evaluation.
Eight days later, Schweizer's body was unearthed from a shallow grave, within sight of Rand's lean-to, and a charge of murder in the first degree was added to his file.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
'Hannibal Lecter of
Sex fiend trial revisits '80s
By Heidi Evans - NYDailyNews.com
Sunday, September 8th 2002
"You know me and [Ted] Bundy are
alike in many ways. We both used Volkswagens. Bundy's thing was women.
My thing is kids. . . . Do you think the police could figure that out?"
- Andre Rand, convicted child
kidnapper and suspected serial killer in conversation with inmates.
As America agonizes over a wave
of horrific child abductions and murders this summer, prosecutors are
targeting a Staten Island deviant suspected of killing at least four
young girls and two women.
Andre Rand, a 58-year-old
drifter and sex offender, is serving 25 years to life for kidnapping 12-year-old
Jennifer Schweiger, whose nude body was found in 1987 in a shallow grave
near Rand's campsite on the abandoned grounds of the Willowbrook state
Although Rand has been in prison
for 12 years, he still casts a large and disturbing shadow over the
"I call him the Hannibal Lecter
of Staten Island," said Donna Cutugno, president of Friends of Jennifer
for Missing Children, a volunteer group that began the community search
for Schweiger and still searches Willowbrook's 385 acres twice a year
looking for the other girls.
"He terrified a whole community.
He still haunts us."
Tomorrow, pretrial hearings are
scheduled to begin in a Staten Island courtroom, where Rand will stand
trial for the kidnapping of Holly Ann Hughes, who disappeared 20 years
ago when she was just 7.
Prosecutors and detectives have
reinterviewed witnesses from two decades ago - some under hypnosis - and
say they have pieced together key evidence that eluded them in 1981 when
Holly was last seen at a local deli buying a bar of soap on the night of
July 15. Police said witnesses saw Rand's green Volkswagen circling the
area on that night. Although he was questioned by police and his car was
searched at the time, he was not arrested or charged.
"There has always been a nagging
thought about the other allegations about him and the other missing
children," said Staten Island District Attorney William Murphy last week.
"I thought it was important enough to take a deeper look at these cases
and do another prosecution."
Law enforcement authorities have
long suspected Rand in the kidnappings of two additional girls: Tiahease
Jackson, 10, who disappeared Aug. 13, 1983, in Mariner's Harbor after
buying chicken wings at a store 2 miles north of Willowbrook; and Alice
Pereira, 5, who disappeared on July 10, 1972, near her apartment in the
New Dorp section, several miles southeast of Willowbrook. He also has
been linked to the disappearance of Ethel Atwell and the rape and murder
of Shin Lee, both Willowbrook aides.
But Murphy said only the Hughes
case got stronger in recent years, and prosecutors won an indictment
from a grand jury last year.
At least 10 people are expected
to testify at his trial about seeing him with or near the outgoing and
smiling girl who lived with her mother at the time. Moreover, officers
and inmates from Auburn Correctional Facility are expected to testify
they heard Rand tell fellow inmates: "Kids entice me"; compare himself
to Ted Bundy, the notorious serial female killer who was executed in
1989, and ask another inmate who was looking at a pornographic book,
"How could I get a book like that with kids?"
In court papers, Rand's lawyer,
Duane Felton, dismissed his client's comments as "vague utterances more
in the nature of pretentious prison boasting."
"Why would anyone boast about
such things, let alone while incarcerated?" said Staten Island Assistant
District Attorney Mario Mattei, the lead prosecutor in the Holly Ann
Hughes case. "He's a pedophile who abducts young girls to have sex with
Mattei, whose hurdle at trial
will be the 20-year time lapse, said he couldn't let the case rest.
"When you look at Rand's past,
and there is a fresh case to be made against him, I couldn't imagine
letting him get away with what we believe he did to this innocent little
girl, Holly Ann Hughes. We think he should be accountable."
Holly Ann's father, Peter Hughes,
a retired dockworker, still carries a photo in his wallet of the
precocious little girl who loved singing Billy Joel's song "My Life" and
going out for pizza.
"There is not a day that goes by
. . . " he said, choking back tears. "She was just a beautiful little
Hughes said he was surprised
when detectives came to his home in 1998 saying they had new leads in
his daughter's disappearance.
"It's upsetting to go through
again, but it was a good thing to happen. Andre Rand is an evil, evil
person. I don't think he will ever say where her remains are so we will
never be able to put my daughter to rest. But hopefully he will be
convicted and put in jail for the rest of his life. The best we can hope
for is that he will die in there."
He has one demand of Rand: "Let
me know what you did with her!"
If Rand is not convicted in the
Hughes case, he is eligible for parole in just under 10 years, on July
30, 2012, for the Schweiger kidnapping.
Rand was also charged with
Schweiger's murder but in the absence of physical evidence jurors
deadlocked on that charge.
Authorities at the time
described Rand as a meticulous and fastidious person, who took great
pains to leave no clues behind.
How he started
Rand was born Frank Rushan in
Manhattan on March 11, 1944. He grew up in Ithaca, N.Y., served in the
Army during the early 1960s and worked as an attendant at Willowbrook
from 1966 to 1968, after which he changed his name to Andre Rand.
He had odd jobs, including his
own sign-painting business on Staten Island, and lived in roominghouses,
shelters and makeshift campsites on the Willowbrook grounds. People in
the neighborhood described him as friendly, articulate and well read,
not the retarded, drooler he feigns to be when questioned by police.
His first brush with the law was
on May 25, 1969, when he enticed a 9-year-old Bronx girl into his car
and drove her to a vacant lot. He removed his clothes and hers, but a
passing police car interrupted the crime. Charged with attempted rape,
Rand pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and was sentenced to four years. He
served 16 months.
In 1979, he was accused of
raping a young woman and a 15-year-old girl, but neither pressed charges.
In 1981, Rand offered a 9-year-old
girl a lollipop and tried to entice her to ride in his Volkswagen. When
she refused his offer, Rand followed her to her home and searched for
her while she hid under a rug. No charges were filed.
And in January 1983, Rand drove
to a Staten Island YMCA, enticed 11 children into his van and drove to
Elizabeth, N.J., where he treated them to White Castle hamburgers. He
then took them to Newark Airport, where they watched planes arrive and
depart. On return to the YMCA five hours later, Rand was charged with
unlawful imprisonment and served 10 months in jail.
Experts say Rand's criminal
history is an anomaly because his victims are generally random strangers.
Fewer than 100 cases of child abductions by nonfamily members were
reported in 2001 among a population of 59 million children, according to
With renewed national focus on
these crimes, Rand offers a window into the dark psyche of criminals
like himself, their methods and their madness.
"These people are typically
loners and losers," said Kenneth Lanning, a retired 30-year veteran FBI
agent and national expert on missing and sexually exploited children. "They
prefer children to adults but lack the interpersonal skills to become a
Little League coach, a teacher or a clergyman - people who easily
befriend children. So they abduct young children because they are
vulnerable and easy prey for them."
Lanning said at least 95% are
unmarried men who have few friends, and that even in this small
population of child molesters who abduct children, only a tiny fraction
of those will kill their victims.
"These are the most vile and
cruel of this sick population," he said.
Felton, Rand's court assigned
lawyer, did not return several phone calls from the Daily News. But in
court papers, he argues that his client is innocent.
In an April 7 motion trying to
prevent prosecutors from obtaining blood from Rand for a DNA sample, he
argued that his client was "thoroughly investigated at the time. . . .
His photograph was shown to persons who had seen Holly Ann Hughes
shortly before her disappearance and none of them have identified [him]
as having been near or with the child on July 15, 1981."
And in an affidavit filed with
the court protesting press coverage of his arrest last year, Rand wrote
on his own behalf - in meticulous and flowery handwriting - that he has
been the victim of "a slanderous/scapegoat article resurrecting [so-called]
'notoriety,' thus encouraging hostility against plaintiff. Focusing and
arousing public attention toward plaintiff from so-called 'missing
persons' old cases - such persons plaintiff has never met!"
In a jailhouse interview with
The News in 1987, Rand repeatedly lied to a reporter, saying he had
never met Jennifer Schweiger.
He changed his story at trial
only after his defense lawyer learned there were several witnesses who
saw Rand with his bicycle leading the trusting little girl with Down
syndrome by the hand away from her house toward the woods at Willowbrook.
M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: Sex.
Pedophile slayer of young girls.
Convicted of kidnapping, 1989.
Andre Rand is taken into custody
is led out of state Supreme Court, St. George, in handcuffs in 2004
after the opening of his trial in the disappearance of Holly Ann Hughes.