Details of Disappearance
Shaw was last seen in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 4, 1971. He left Whittlesea Car Rentals at the southwest corner of Tropicana Boulevard and Paradise Road at 11:30 p.m. His home was only a short distance away, but never arrived.
Between midnight and 1:30 a.m. on May 5, a Las Vegas patrol officer found Shaw's beige Ford Galaxie abandoned in an alley west of Maryland Parkway, between Desert Inn Road and Shara Boulevard, near Karen Avenue. West of the alleyway was undeveloped desert at the time. The car was bloodstained and there was no sign of Shaw. He has never been heard from again.
On the day of his disappearance, Shaw argued with a business associated, Robert Weeks. A photo of Robert is posted with this case summary. He was connected with three other people who disappeared without a trace: his ex-wife Patricia Weeks
, who disappeared from Las Vegas on April 25, 1968; Cynthia Jabour
, his girlfriend of six years, who disappeared from Las Vegas on October 5, 1980; and Carol Riley
, also a girlfriend, who disappeared from San Diego, California on April 5, 1986.
Patricia went missing a few weeks after their divorce had been finalized and she had been granted custody of their four young children. After her disappearance, her car was found abandoned in a parking lot. Robert told people that Patricia "either had a nervous breakdown or is probably dead." Jabour disappeared on a night she had a dinner date scheduled with Robert; she planned to break up with him. After her disappearance, her car was found abandoned in the parking lot Caesar's Palace Hotel in Las Vegas.
When questioned by police, Robert claimed Jabour had canceled their dinner date that night and he didn't know where she was. He was supposed to take a lie detector test, but on the day of the test he canceled the appointment, saying he had to go out of town on business. He went to Tijuana, Mexico, and then on to Chile. He didn't return to the U.S. until three years later, coming in through Houston, Texas on a Libyan passport.
He moved to San Diego, California and started using the name Robert Howard Smith. He was seeing Riley, a nurse. Riley was seeing another man as well, a doctor from Colorado, and planned to end her relationship with Robert and marry the doctor. On the night Riley disappeared, she had a dinner date scheduled with Robert and planned to break up with him. After her disappearance, her car was found abandoned in a San Diego hotel parking lot.
When questioned by police, Robert claimed Riley had canceled their dinner date and he had no idea what happened to her. On April 7, just two days after Riley's disappearance, he left town, telling his roommate he was going on a business trip, and dropped out of sight. Authorities subsequently learned that that Robert was using a false name, and about the people in his life who had disappeared before.
Police launched a manhunt for Robert, and he and the four disappearances were profiled on the television show Unsolved Mysteries
. Thanks to tips from people who saw the show, in April 1987 he was located in Tucson, Arizona, where he'd been living under the name Charles F. Stolzenberg. He was arrested on an outstanding embezzlement charge out of Nevada, and questioned about the four disappearances. In July 1987, he was indicted for Patricia and Jabour's murders.
At his trial, numerous witnesses testified that Rober was a controlling and abusive man, prone to jealous rages. Two of his and Patricia's children took the stand to talk about how their father had beaten their mother on numerous occasions; others corroborated this, and Patricia had twice gotten restraining orders against her husband. Witnesses also testified that when Robert saw Patricia sitting next to a male neighbor on a piano bench, he beat the man so severely he was unrecognizable, and didn't regain consciousness for three days.
Passages from Robert's diary were presented for the jury; he wrote bitterly about Jabour, saying, "You have humiliated me beyond belief. I will even the score." The jury was permitted to hear about Riley's suspicious disappearance as well.
In April 1988, he was convicted of Patricia's murder and Jabour's murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. It was the first time in Nevada history that someone was convicted of murder without the victim's body. He died in prison in 1996; he was never charged in Riley and Shaw's disappearances.
None of the bodies of the missing people connected to him have ever been found. He was interested in mining, and may have dumped them in mine shafts in the Nevada desert.