The Killer Next Door

He left clues all over, but it still took investigators years to unmask the serial murderer in their midst

"To say I was shocked was putting it mildly," says his girlfriend, Lynda, who asked that her full name not be used. "Pretty much everything he had told me was not true. And to have 12 to 15 homicide detectives at your house one night--" She stops. Then she says, "I never would have guessed anything like that."

Investigators believe Shore probably expected to be discovered. "He was waiting for that hammer to fall, and it fell," Swaim says.

Shore admitted to the killings during an interrogation by Swaim. Then he added, "Now I'm going to tell you something you don't know," and confessed to Tremblay's murder, as well as the rape of the teenager in 1993.

After his arrest, Shore tried to justify the killings to his 
Daniel Kramer
After his arrest, Shore tried to justify the killings to his captors.
For eight years, Danny Billingsley pursued leads on 
the serial killer.
Daniel Kramer
For eight years, Danny Billingsley pursued leads on the serial killer.

In every case, he assured police he had a justification. He'd been dating Tremblay, he said, and had to strangle her when she promised to tell his wife. He later told family members that one of the victims had been in his daughter's school; another had heard his band play.

Swaim is convinced the story is crap. "They tell you just enough, but not enough to make themselves look bad," he says. "My idea was, he was giving himself an out: 'I'm not as bad as you think. We had a relationship.' He has an explanation for everything. But it's not going to wash."

Investigators differ on whether Shore committed more murders in the five years after giving his DNA sample. Officers "looked at all the cases of unsolved females that fit his MO," Swaim says, but he believes the last killing was Sanchez in 1995.

Swaim knows Shore had a habit of picking up women and making his move. But he doesn't believe he killed them: "There would be bodies strewn all over the place. My friends say, 'You're crazy! You're telling me this guy didn't do any other stuff for so many years?' But maybe we do have all he did."

Billingsley concedes that "a majority of investigators" think there are more victims. But, if so, why wouldn't Shore admit to them? "We can only kill him so many times," Billingsley says. "Why not admit to all of them?"

Billingsley believes Shore wants to be the center of attention. After all, he says, he called to report Sanchez's body nine years ago. He seems to enjoy the questioning. "He's got this attention now, and he can keep us hanging."

Tony Shore is scheduled for trial in November on capital murder charges, but even his family doesn't contend he is innocent. His own father won't argue that he deserves mercy.

Sitting in his Southwestern-themed kitchen in Clear Lake Shores, Rob Shore says he believes in the death penalty; he doesn't think his son deserves an exemption. "Fair is fair, and right is right," Rob says simply.

Tony has twice written him long letters from jail, full of explanations. Tony claims his mother molested him as a child -- Deanna even underwent hypnosis to see if that could be true, but came up with nothing to support the claim.

Rob doesn't believe such allegations, either, nor does he write back.

He and his wife, Rose, have an easy rapport from 20 years of marriage. Even when he talks about beating up his first wife, they seem at ease. "I'm not a violent person," he says.

"Only when you get mad," she teases him.

"I haven't beaten you up yet," he says. They smile at each other.

It's raining, and Rob excuses himself to move one of the cars to higher ground. When he's gone, Rose wonders how Tony could have turned into a cold-blooded killer. "He wanted his father's attention more than anything," she offers. "But his dad didn't know that. He was mad at his dad most of the time, and his dad didn't even know it."

When Rob returns, she changes the subject.

Deanna Shore was 57 when she started as a mother again. Her granddaughters initially had no clothes or beds or shoes. Despite his promises, Tony never sent child support.

Raising the girls was also emotionally difficult. The older daughter couldn't sleep unless her 130-pound dog was in the room; she also developed a habit of igniting her stuffed animals. The younger one had nightmares about her dad. "They were not the kind of children that grandparents long for," Deanna says dryly.

As for her son, "There's a part of me that loves him, and always will. That loves the child he was…If the other part existed then, I didn't see it. But he was also every woman's nightmare."

Deanna and her daughter Gina flew to Houston in March to visit Tony. Rob drove them to the Harris County Jail, but when they went in, he sat in the car and waited.

The visitors' room is a cacophony of girlfriends and husbands shouting into speakers, struggling to be heard by prisoners on the other side of the glass. But even cuffed, even in a bright orange jumpsuit, Tony Shore was completely unself-conscious. He said he was working on a book of memoirs; he claimed he was right with God.

"He was just as friendly as if he was having tea with us," Deanna marvels.

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