Story Summary

Arrested: HACC student kidnapper

2012-12-00303 suspect 1

Harrisburg Police say an 18 year old female HACC student was kidnapped from campus Monday morning.  The woman parked in a lot off Industrial Road about 8:30 am and was gathering her belongings from the car when a strange man approached, opening her car door and forcing her to the passenger seat.  He drove while pointing a gun at her.  He parked in the Enola area where the Conodoguinet Creek meets the Susquehanna River.  He forced the woman into a nearby wooded area and tried to sexually assault her.  When he set down his gun, the teenager fled.  The man then escaped in her car, taking it back to the HACC lot.

The woman was not hurt.  Police released a sketch of the suspect who’s described at about 5’7″, with a small build, wearing wire rim glasses.  He has short reddish hair and a goatee.

If you know anything about this man, call Detective John O’Connor at 717-255-3175 or email or Sgt. Deric Moody at 717-255-3156 or email  If they can’t be reached you can call Detective Victor Rivera via Dauphin County Police dispatch at 717-558-6900.

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Courtesy Lanette Jones

The man accused of abducting a HACC student at gunpoint last week and then sexually assaulting her waived his preliminary hearing this morning in Cumberland County Court. Clarence Shaffer now faces three new charges, all related to the sexual assault of his 18 year-old victim. The judge also revoked his bail, calling Shaffer ” an immediate and extreme threat.” His bail had previously been set at $2 million.

Shaffer would only say, “I’m sorry,” to assembled media as he was led in handcuffs into court this morning.

On the morning of December 3rd, Shaffer allegedly accosted an 18 year-old HACC student in the parking lot of the Wildwood Campus in Harrisburg, pointing a pistol at her and forcing her back into her own car. He then drove her across the river to a pier on the Conodoguinet Creek in East Pennsboro Township. He forced her to undress at gunpoint and assaulted her. The victim fought back when she realized Shaffer had put down his gun. He regained control, telling the victim, “I could kill you right now,” while holding the gun to her chest. He then ran off and the victim made it to a nearby home and called for help.

Shaffer was arrested two days later, and admitted to the abduction, saying he wanted to return to prison. He told FOX43’s Michael Hyland it was the easiest way for him to go back to prison and get the help he needs.

Following the arrest of Clarence Shaffer, the man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a HACC student earlier this week, legal experts say there was little that could have been done to prevent what happened, even though there were documented concerns about Shaffer’s potential to offend again.

Shaffer was released from prison last week after serving the maximum sentence he received from a prior conviction in 1999. Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said that was a similar case to this recent one. In 1995, Freed said Shaffer abducted a young woman at Central Penn College.

As part of a plea agreement, he received a sentence of four to 14 years in prison. In the following years, Freed said Shaffer ended up on parole in 2003 and again later. But, each time he violated the conditions of his release.

After police arrested Shaffer Tuesday, he told Fox43 he wanted to return to prison “because it’s the only thing I have.”

The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole documented its concerns about Shaffer’s release, including whether he might endanger another person.

“There’s no legal process to hold somebody after they’ve reached their maximum sentence. He’s a lifetime registrant under Megan’s law. That’s about the only thing that’s out there,” said Freed. “We in the system can do a lot of things. But, if someone’s determined to commit a criminal act, they’re going to do it.”

Fox43 legal analyst Steven Breit concurred, saying this pattern of behavior is one he’s seen many times before.

“They’re used to the routine (in prison). And some of them do very well in that environment. This is an individual that probably cannot function outside of that environment,” said Breit. “And there are offenders that just cannot be rehabilitated. This is one of them.”

Shaffer is being held at the Cumberland County prison and faces several charges including kidnapping and sex 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.”

Local News

HACC abduction suspect arrested

Clarence Shaffer, the man accused of abducting an 18 year-old HACC student at gunpoint Monday morning and attempting to sexually assault her, has been apprehended. Police caught up to Shaffer after he led them on a chase that ended in Highspire.

FOX43 News’ Michael Hyland has been following the story and will have a full report tonight at 6pm.

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HACC is shut down as police search the area for kidnapping suspect

Police are searching the woods around Harrisburg Area Community College’s Wildwood Campus, searching for the suspect in yesterday’s abduction. Earlier today, police identified  Clarence Shaffer, 52, of no fixed address, as the man who  abducted a HACC student on Monday morning and attempted to sexually assault her. Then just around noon,  HACC sent out a message to students that the campus was being closed in cooperation with police conducting the investigation. Students who were on campus were evacuated. Subsequently, there were multiple reported sightings of Shaffer in the Harrisburg area, including a site near the Harvey Taylor Bridge and near Wildwood Way. Shaffer is a registered sex offender, only recently released from prison. Police say Shaffer may be armed and is considered dangerous.

Local News

Suspect ID’d in abduction at HACC



Clarence Shaffer


Police are searching for a man they say abducted a HACC student on Monday morning and attempted to sexually assault her. Clarence Shaffer, 52, of no fixed address may be armed and should be considered dangerous.

The 18-year-old victim told police she had just parked her car in HACC’s parking lot off Industrial Road when Shaffer opened her car door and forced her into the passenger seat at gunpoint.

Shaffer drove the victim to a parking lot in Enola, forced the victim into a wooded area near the Conodoguinet Creek and attempted to sexually assault her, police said.

The victim was able to escape and get help as Shaffer was putting his gun down, police said.

Authorities say Shaffer has family in this area but is estranged from them.

Anyone with information regarding Shaffer’s whereabouts is asked to contact police at 717-255-3175 or 717-255-3156.




Police are investigating a report of a woman being abducted from Harrisburg Area Community College on Monday morning. It happened around 8:30 a.m. at the college’s Harrisburg campus.

A HACC text alert was issued to students regarding the abduction and police were immediately notified, HACC spokesperson Pam Saylor said.

The text read:

“HACC Emergency Alert.:Abduction reported at the Harrisburg Campus. Victim driven off campus and released. Take precaution. Contact police with information. Investigation into abduction continues. Abductor is considered to be off campus. Described as a white male, glasses, goatee, 50’s carrying a briefcase.”

“We have a detective investigating the report,” according to city police Lt. Robert Fegan. He would not go into  details about the investigation.