Local News

HACC Kidnapping Suspect Arrested, Admits to Crimes

After two days of searching, Harrisburg police arrested Clarence Shaffer, who is accused of kidnapping an 18-year-old woman at Harrisburg Area Community College’s main campus Monday morning.

Following his arrest, Shaffer admitted to the kidnapping, telling reporters he wanted to return to prison.

Police say Shaffer returned to the campus Tuesday to take back the car he had stolen. Police arrived there later in the morning and established a headquarters as they searched for him by land and by air.

HACC administrators cancelled classes for the day.

“It kind of creeps me out, yeah, because there are a lot of wooded areas since Wildwood is right next to us. But, there’s not really much you can do at this point. Cops are around. There’s security,” said HACC student Amanda Morgan.

Detective Jason Brinker said police eventually got a tip from a Highspire Police officer that Shaffer was in the borough at a car wash next to the Turkey Hill on 2nd Street.

Police arrested him shortly before 2 p.m.

He faces nine charges including: aggravated assault, kidnapping, indecent assault by forcible compulsion, aggravated indecent assault with threat of forcible compulsion and aggravated indecent assault by forcible compulsion, in addition to other charges.

When police walked him to a car to take him to his arraignment, he spoke with reporters about the case. The following is part of the conversation he had with Fox43:

Fox43: “Mr Shaffer do you have anything to say about the charges against you?”
Shaffer: “I wanted to go back to prison.”
Fox43: “Why?”
Shaffer: “Because I couldn’t get any help out here.”
Fox43: “So, why did you do this, though?”
Shaffer: “Because it’s the easiest way I could go back. I just want to go back where I can get help.”
Fox43: “Do you have anything to say to the woman who was abducted yesterday?”
Shaffer: “I’m so sorry, and I hope you can get over this. And, I didn’t want to hurt you. And I told you I wouldn’t hurt you.”

Shaffer later said he’d had trouble getting medication he needed and felt prison was a better place for him. He didn’t give a clear answer about why he would commit these crimes in particular. When asked how he chose the victim, he said “random.”

According to court documents, a district judge set his bail at $2 million.

Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed will handle this case after discussing it with Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico.

Freed said he worked on a previous case involving Shaffer in the 90s. Freed said in 1995, Shaffer committed similar crimes against a Central Penn College student, abducting her as well. Shaffer was convicted in 1999.

Shaffer was released from prison last week.

Freed recalled the sentencing phase of the case saying, “The result of that case was a sentence of four to 14 years in state prison. And very clearly I remember why we sought the tail of 14 years because we had concerns about whether this defendant would be able to adjust.”

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