Andre Rand (born Frank Rushan; March 11, 1944) is an American convicted kidnapper of two children and suspected serial killer, currently serving 25 years to life in prison. He is eligible for parole in 2037. He is the subject of the 2009 documentary Cropsey.
Rand was born Frank Rushan. The origins of the name "Andre Rand" are unknown. According to his little sister in the 2009 documentary Cropsey, neither she nor Rand were sexually or physically abused as children.
Willowbrook State School
In the mid 1960s, Rand worked as a custodian at Willowbrook State School. The hospital was located on the current College of Staten Island CUNY Campus and surrounded by a forest called the Staten Island Greenbelt. In 1972, documentary filmmaker Geraldo Rivera brought the conditions of Willowbrook to the public eye in an exposé entitled "Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace." The film made a number of allegations against the institution. In 1987, Willowbrook was closed by the state. Tunnel systems exist beneath the hospital.
Early crime record
Rand picked up a group of 11 children from the YMCA located in Staten Island in a school bus, purchased a meal for them without the consent from any of their parents, and took them to the Newark Liberty International Airport in the state of New Jersey. None of the children were harmed in this encounter, but Rand was apprehended and served 10 months in jail for unlawful imprisonment.
Rand’s alleged victims
In 1972, 5-year-old Alice Pereira vanished after her brother had left her alone for a moment. They were playing in the lobby of a building on the island. Reports also suggest Alice may have been sighted in one of the parks. Rand was the prime suspect in this case due to his previous criminal record. Alice was never seen again.
In 1981, 7-year-old Holly Ann Hughes did not return home after going to the store to get a bar of soap with her friend. Andre Rand pulled up to Holly and her friend and pulled Holly into his Volkswagen and drove off with Holly. Her parents filed a missing persons report and a search was issued. When questioned, several eyewitnesses reported seeing Hughes with Rand. She was last seen with Rand and has not been seen again. In 2004, Rand was convicted of kidnapping Holly Ann Hughes.
In 1983, 11-year-old Tiahease Jackson was reported missing after her mother had sent her to purchase food and she did not return. She was last seen exiting the Mariner’s Harbor Motel in Staten Island on August 14, 12 days after Rand was released from prison. Rand was questioned, but no charges were brought.
In 1984, Staten Island resident Hank Gafforio was reported missing after he did not return home one night. Gafforio was described as being “slow” and had an I.Q. in the 70s. At the time of his disappearance he was 22 (according to the "Cropsey" documentary Gafforio was 21 when he was allegedly kidnapped by Rand). Eyewitnesses reported last seeing Gafforio in a local diner with Rand in the early morning hours. His body has never been found.
In 1987, Jennifer Schweiger, born with Down syndrome, was reported missing on July 9th. Witnesses spotted Jennifer walking with Rand. Her body was found underground after a 35-day search. While combing the area around Willowbrook State School, a particular spot caught the eye of retired New York City firefighter George Kramer. He returned with the police, the entire body was unearthed from the shallow grave, and the remains were positively identified as those of Schweiger. Police searched the grounds for evidence and found one of Rand’s makeshift campsites in proximity to Schweiger’s grave.
In 1988, Andre Rand was charged with the kidnapping and first-degree murder of Jennifer Schweiger. The Staten Island jury could not reach a verdict on the murder charge, but convicted Rand of the first-degree kidnapping charge. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He would have been eligible for parole in 2008 if not convicted of a second kidnapping. According to the "Cropsey" documentary, some people along with detectives speculated that Rand may have been involved with Satanism and provided the children to be sacrificed. There were people also who thought that Rand was not alone in the commission of his crimes and many believed he was passing the children around to his friends in the underground network of homeless and mentally disabled people living in the tunnel systems of the former Willowbrook state school.
In 2004, Rand was again brought to trial, this time charged with the kidnapping of Holly Ann Hughes 23 years earlier. There is no statute of limitations in New York for first-degree kidnapping, which made this charge possible. A jury convicted Rand of the kidnapping in October 2004, and he was sentenced to another consecutive 25 years to life in prison. He will become eligible for parole in 2037, when he will be 93 years old.
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