Kendall Francois was from Poekeepsie New York, a small city about an hour north of Manhattan. No one had a clue that among them lurked a macabre and brutal serial killer. From 1996 to 1998, residents and police investigators were both baffled and terrified by the disappearances of eight women in their community. Though suspicions of a serial killer on the loose were looming, no one would have ever suspected that there would be victims to fall a violent demise by the hands of Kendall Francois in his house of horrors.
Now, as we already know here, there’s several common traits of most serial killers. A lot of them have a seriously high I.Q’s and a burning drive for domination, usually sexual. Francois was no different.
On a cold, dark December night in 1996, Gina Barone was out working the drug infested streets downtown. Enter, Francois. Gina, who was a known addict would regularly disappear for a day or two while she was out on a binge, but when a day or two turned to closer to a week, her mother reported her missing. Well, come to find out, two months earlier another girl named Wendy Meyers was reported missing. When January rolls around and there’s another report of a missing woman, Kathleen Hurley, folks knew that something sinister was at hand. All 3 of these women were known druggies and prostitutes and they were all last seen out working the downtown streets. It was time to call in the big dogs.
FBI investigators started looking into leads and it didn’t take long for them to realize there was indeed a serial killer on the loose. After a while of digging, their focus turned to 99 Fulton Avenue. The home of the Francois family, which was only a few blocks away from Vassar College. Even though they had their suspicions they were ramming their head against a brick wall, there was no apparent crime scene and due to lack of tangible physical evidence, no way they’d get their hands on a search warrant. Meanwhile, more crack ho’s are coming up missing.
In September of 1998 one of the working girls got lucky. She somehow had managed to escape this madman while he was strangling her. She ran off and reported what had happened to her and gave the address of the attack to the police, 99 Fulton Avenue, the Francois home. This finally gave investigators a viable reason to apprehend and question Kendall Francois about that report, and after a few hours of questioning, he confessed to the abductions and eventual murders of all eight victims. What he told investigators was truly disturbing and most shocking. A warrant was then easily obtained to search the residence, where the mystery of the missing women came clear and the revelation of the macabre and insane acts of a serial killer, Kendall Francois had come to light.
When investigators enter the home, they were greeted by Francois’ confused mother. When she opened the door, police were just about knocked over by the stench of death emanating from the home. As they entered, it was immediately apparent that these women were most definitely somewhere in the home and after a brief search, the house was taped off and deemed a crime scene. Most of the women found there were in the attic covered with blankets and also showed evidence of the killer moving them around, to make room for his next victims. There was also evidence of necrophilia after forensic testing was completed. Yeah, a lot of these sick bastards just love a dead lay, oh that was bad, Anyway, the cause of death determined by forensic evidence, and the coroner’s report was strangulation and blunt force trauma.
The most puzzling aspect to investigators was the obvious stench in this house, so obviously they wanted to know why the hell the rest of family that lived there couldn’t know something was going on. Reports did show that the investigators said the house was a pig sty inside, their words “very unkempt and quite filthy with garbage, household items strewn about and very unsanitary.” Maybe their preference for wallowing in their own filth kept them from realizing what was really happening. But it stills seems kind of disturbing to me, maybe because I’m a neat freak and a tad bit on the OCD side, ok a lot on the OCD side, I’m just saying what the hell kind of stench do you have to be accustomed to to NOT smell 8 rotting corpses in your own home.
Anyway, during the course of their investigation, it was also revealed that Francois had contracted HIV. Ah, now a means to his madness emerges. It’s quite possible that these abductions and murders were an act of vengeance toward the prostitutes that he had encounters with. He saw to it that each one was tortured and raped before he orchestrated their horrific deaths, the way these girls died was despicable and their family members were devastated beyond what any parent should have to face.
On October 24th 1996 prostitute Wendy Meyers gets into Francois’ car, she was be driven to his house, and taken up to his second floor bedroom where she insisted on being paid first. Francois then strangled her to death. After he calmed down, he carried her limp body into the bathroom and washed it, before cramming her into a black plastic bag. He then carried it up to the attic.
On November 11th 1996, Gina Barone was working the streets because of a heated argument with her boyfriend, she gets picked up by Francois. After sex, he gets pissed off and claimed he was ripped off, he then strangles Gina right there in his car. After forcing her body down under the seats of his car, he drove home and parked the car in garage, where he would leave her body until the next morning, when it would be placed in a black bag and thrown in the attic.
Two days later he kills 31 year old prostitute Cathy Marsh. Again Francois suddenly became angry and squeezed Cathy’s throat until her hyoid bone snapped and she went limp. After carrying the body from his bedroom, he washes the corpse in the bathroom before moving it into the attic with the previous 2 victims.
Then there was this incident where he was arrested for assaulting a hooker, but she refuses to sign the complaint, he serves 7 days of a 15 day sentence and was back out on the streets again.
Less than 4 weeks later, just before 51 year old, Sandra French would become Francois’ next victim. Sandra was manually strangled during sex. Again, Francois took the body to the bathroom where it was bathed, dried, bagged and carried up to the attic.
By now the attic was getting crowded, so the next day, Francois carried Sandra’s body down into the basement, where he dug a shallow grave into the crawlspace, threw her in and covered with loose dirt.
Audrey Pugliese was working Noxon Street when Francois pulled up. She recognized him as one of her regulars so she gets into the car. he drives her to the house and heads down to the basement where Francois once again ‘flipped out’ during sex and starts punching her in the face, she managed to struggle free from under her his massive weight and ran for the basement door, she never made it. He pulled her back and continued beating her. Audrey fell to the floor but the attack did not stop, he slammed his foot into her face, ribs and stomach while strangling her. A little while later, her body was dumped on top of Sandra French’s in the crawl space.
Thirteen days later, Francois would commit his final murder. Twenty five year old Catina Newmaster was another regular of Francois red light district visits and once the price was negotiated she got into his car. She would soon be lying on the floor of the garage, dead. The next day she would be buried in the crawl space.
This monster preyed upon addicted and impoverished hookers but another disturbing fact emerged as well. Francois had been employed at the Arlington High School, just a few miles from the city. He was a hall monitor that was well known for inappropriate conduct among students and eventually was let go from employment at the school. One can only imagine what really did there or what could have happened to those kids. Kendall Francois was convicted of his heinous crimes and In August of 2000, Kendall Francois was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at Attica correctional facility, he died due to complications of HIV in September of 2014.