Netflix’s true crime show delves into the 1990 murders in St. Charles County

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – The April 29, 1990 murders of two young men in St. Charles County were devastating. The amazing thing is that the suspects turned themselves in within hours. Robert Schaefer is on death row for taking the lives of two innocent people.

Jerry Parker and Denny Young were part of the LGBTQ+ community. They were alone at Blanchette’s dock on North River Road. That’s when Shafer and another teenager came up to her and asked for a ride.

As the night wore on, tensions escalated until Parker and Young were shot in cold blood. At 10:00 p.m. on April 30, 1991, the two St. Charles County detectives turned themselves in.

The Netflix documentary, I am a Killer Season 1 Episode 8: Hunted includes this case. The show premiered on August 3, 2018.

The day of the murder

in one written confession to police in the 1990s, Shafer admitted his mental condition that day. He explains that he got high with his boyfriend. From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., he spoke of “robbing and beating up some homosexuals.”

Later that day, Shafer said he met his friend at home. Then he went to his sister’s bedroom and got the .22 revolver and got five .22 cartridges from the kitchen.

In the Netflix documentary, Shafer says, “The planning of what was supposed to be a robbery had nothing to do with killing someone. That never played a role at first. It just got out of control.”


“This is a difficult word to use, it feels like predator and prey, but it actually was,” Shafer said. “We kind of tracked the victims.”

Shafer and the 16-year-old approached Young and Parker at Blanchette’s dock on North River Road. They were looking for someone to rob.

Shafer said they were going to St. Peters to meet some girls. They asked Young if they would drive her for $5.

After driving around for some time, Young became suspicious of all the different directions.

The murder

“We ended up on Silver’s Road and I just told them to stop the car, open the door and let us out,” Shafer said.

A fight started in the car. Shafer said when he got out of the vehicle, he ended up fighting with Young.

While Shafer fought Young, Parker drove down the street.

“I was chasing him,” Shafer said. Shafer said Parker didn’t walk in a straight line. “The road was rough and he stumbled and when he stumbled I fired a shot.”

“I closed the distance, I went up and took another shot,” Shafer said. “And as I got closer, I fired another shot.”

“Mr. Young was in the ditch in front of the vehicle. And he tried to climb out of the ditch somehow. It was wet and muddy and I took a shot,” Shafer said. “And he fell backwards, and I jumped into the ditch, and kind of at the same time I shot. Somehow he turned around and I fired another shot. That was it.”


Within hours of the murders, Shafer and his teenage accomplice turned themselves in to police. They discussed how they would play the story to the police. They said that they were the victims and that Jerry Parker and Denny Young were the attackers and each of them was responsible for the killing of a man.

Phil GronwegheChief Trial Attorney and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for St. Charles County says he didn’t believe Shafer’s claim of self-defense. He said the wounds don’t match the self-defense wounds.

“Shafer struck me as very manipulative. He seemed very cruel to me,” said Groenweghe. “He’s not nearly as smart as he thought.”

“The fact that these victims were gay was almost a mitigating factor for him, so that everyone would understand why he wanted to kill two gay men,” Groenweghe said. “And he had some real issues with that.”

Groweneghe said he didn’t know why Shafer was so angry with themLGBTQ+ community.


“My mother was raised by Catholic nuns in an orphanage; very strict. She didn’t know how to be a mother. Even though she had all these kids, she didn’t know how to be a mom,” said Juliette Shafer. Robert Shafer’s sister.

In the Netflix documentary, Juliette said her mother was unloving. Her mother would fight with her stepfather and she would want him to leave the house.

Juliette said she doesn’t remember any happy holidays or happy times in the house she grew up in.

Juliette remembered that her brother Robert was always happy. She said he made friends quickly and knew what was always going on in town.

“But for some reason he’s just being blamed for everything. He just couldn’t do anything right,” Juliette said. “He was being beaten up all the time or basically just being hit.”

Juliette left home when she was 15 and while she was away Robert went into the Navy for a while. When he left, he didn’t want to move back in with his parents.

Juliette told him to stay with her in St. Charles. She said everything is going well, Robert is happy and he even took care of her.

But then, six to nine months after she was living with Juliette, the murder happened.

Three years after his arrest, Robert Shafer was found guilty of both murders. However, many continued to believe that he only killed one of the victims.

abuse in childhood

“I just didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. But I almost get it, you know, the anger,” said Phillip Shafer, brother of Robert Shafer. “I don’t condone what he did, I don’t agree with it. But I can see it happening.”

Philip said Robert asked him why her mother didn’t love her. Phillip said he would wake up to see his mother hitting Robert while he was sleeping.

“Because it seemed like other kids were kind of spared,” Phillip said. “You never had to endure it. We were almost hunted.”

Phillip said her mother would describe it as a derogatory word for men in the LGBTQ community. Phillip said it still upset him even now because he was offended that his mother called him that.

Phillip said that word still confuses Robert. “Nothing ever happened to me. Robert does, so there could be a difference.”

Phillip said he remembered the street where this guy would have neighborhood boys come over to play video games at his house.

“We now know what that means. I mean all the boys in the neighborhood,” Phillip said. “I think it affected Robert.”

Aubrey Martin, a childhood friend of Robert Shafer who was also a victim of abuse, said it started when they were 13 or 14. They made money for what they did. When Martin said he would get $50 to $75 when Shafer exited the van, he had $150 to $200.

Martin said they never spoke about what happened in the van. He never knew the extent of Shafer’s abuse.

“I think it made Robert do violent and harmful things,” Martin said. “He never understood that shooting those two guys was like getting rid of, or atoning for, the harm that had been done to him in his life.”

“Whether Robert sees it or not, he targeted these two gay guys because he was being harassed,” Martin said. “That’s exactly how I feel. That’s exactly how a lot of people feel.”

The ends

A few weeks after receiving the death sentence, Robert Shafer began appealing. In 2004, a court ruled that he did not understand the implications of not having an attorney. His death sentence was commuted to life without the possibility of parole.

Shafer’s friend served 11 years in prison. Netflix’s true crime show delves into the 1990 murders in St. Charles County

Sarah Y. Kim

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