Earl Kenneth Shriner

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Earl Kenneth Shriner is an American criminal who in 1990 was convicted of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree rape and first-degree assault of seven-year-old Ryan Alan Hade[1] and sentenced to 131 years' imprisonment.

Criminal career[edit]

Shriner, who was described as "a slightly retarded man with a bizarre physical appearance"[2] and tested to have an IQ of 67[3] had a long history of sadistic sexual assaults but only one conviction. "Shriner was in the community without supervision because his sentence had expired and a judge had ruled that he did not meet the stringent 'imminent danger' criteria necessary for commitment under the State's mental health laws."[2]

In 1966, when Shriner, at that time 16, was detained for strangling a seven-year-old girl, he led the police officers to the body of a developmentally disabled 15-year-old girl instead, whom he had strangled. He was confined to 10 years, but committed as a 'defective delinquent' to a hospital,[4] but not convicted of a crime. Between 1977 and 1987, while serving a 10-year sentence for abducting and assaulting two 16-year-old girls, Shriner had repeatedly disclosed not just fantasies but detailed plans how he would kidnap, confine, and torture his victims.[5]


Sexually violent predator legislation[edit]

The final sexual assault Shriner committed in May 1989, caused a nationwide public outrage, that has been cited as one of the main catalysts for new laws allowing indefinite confinement of sex offenders.[6][7] The formation of a victims advocacy group Tennis Shoe Brigade, named in reference to the grass-roots organizations demand that the public be free to walk the streets in safety, rallying for toughening the laws, raised the public pressure on Washington's Governor Booth Gardner.[8][9] Subsequently, the Washington state legislature unanimously enacted the first "sexual predator" law, allowing to indefinitely lock up perpetrators of any sexual crime, if a "mental abnormality" causing someone to commit another sex crime can be attested.[10][11] A pivotal part of the 1990 Community Protection Act (Washington)[7] this legislation was subsequently adopted by many other U.S. states. Many people also became outraged that such a clearly dangerous sexual predator had been allowed to live in anonymity prior to the killings, and some people thought that the killings could have been avoided if people had been aware of Shriner's criminal history. As a result, the Community Protection Act also not only created a sex offender registry in Washington state, but also required community notification of the presence of the state's most dangerous sex offenders. The Community Protection Act thus is generally considered to have created the world's first publicly accessible sex offender registry; all other sex offender registries existing before this point were only available to law enforcement.

Animal abuse[edit]

Shriner was also cited by PETA in their campaign against animal abuse as an example of notorious criminals that started torturing animals long before turning to children.[12] The Animals' Voice describes him as "being widely known in his neighborhood as the man who put firecrackers in dogs' rectums and strung up cats".[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shriner convicted of mutilating boy", Seattle Post Intelligencer, 8 February 1990
  2. ^ a b Petrunik (1994), p. 57
  3. ^ Lamott/Pfäfflin (2008), p. 113
  4. ^ "Tacoma sex offender faces latest charges in mutilation of boy", Spokesman Review: B2, 23 May 1989
  5. ^ Petrunik (1994), p. 60
  6. ^ "The facts of the Shriner case were compelling enough to trigger a statewide paroxysm of outrage. [...] Meanwhile the Legislature, provoked by public outrage based largely on the Shriner case, is well on the way to enacting laws allowing longer incarceration of chronic sex offenders" in: "Handling sex crimes: Sensitivity required", Spokesman Review: A18, 11 February 1990
  7. ^ a b "The furor over Shriner's attack on Ryan spread across the state and led to the Legislature's passage of the Community Protection Act of 1990" in: "Little boy Ryan Hade left his mark on the nation", Tacoma News Tribune, 24 June 2005
  8. ^ "Toughen sex offender laws, Gardner urged", Tri-City Herald: A7, 21 June 1989
  9. ^ "Tennis Shoe Brigade renews efforts against sex predators", Tri-City Herald: A7, 21 November 1989
  10. ^ Charles Oliver: “Sex Crime and Punishment” in: Reason, March 1993.
  11. ^ RCW ch. 71.09, http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=71.09
  12. ^ PETA: “Animal Abuse & Human Abuse: Partners In Crime”, Norfolk, VA, 1997 (reprint)
  13. ^ cited by Leopoldo R. Estol: “The family violence saga: from animal to children”, paper, Buenos Aires, undated


External links[edit]