Robert Shulman, the former Hicksville postal worker whose spree of murdering, dismembering and discarding young women horrified Long Island a decade ago and made him the Island's first death row inmate in decades, died in an Albany hospital yesterday, state correction officials said.
Shulman, 52, had been recently resentenced to life without parole after New York's death penalty was overturned. Shulman's closest living relatives - brothers Barry and Sheldon, of Long Beach, did not return calls for comment.
"Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord," said Ruth Brown, of York, Pa., yesterday in her first words after hearing the man who killed her daughter, Lisa Ann Warner, had died. "Even though man took away the death penalty, he deserved it, and he got it. ... I feel it's the Almighty's justice system."
State Department of Correctional Services spokeswoman Linda Foglia said Shulman, who was serving his sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate Dannemora, was transferred to a local hospital on Tuesday, requiring undisclosed medical treatment.
"There was no assault, nothing suspicious. He was having medical problems," Foglia said.
He was later transferred to Albany Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 3:15 a.m.. Foglia said Shulman's cause of death, pending an autopsy, is tentatively classified as natural causes.
"He was one of the few, true serial killers that I've ever come across," said former Suffolk County District Attorney James Catterson, who sought the death penalty in the case. "He received the ultimate penalty anyway. He was shut away from society, from anyone, and died alone, and, I'm sure, unmourned." Ten years ago this month, Shulman was arrested inside a cramped and filthy Hicksville apartment that prosecutors called the killer's "slaughterhouse."
Inside, police say, Shulman bludgeoned to death three women - believed by authorities to have been prostitutes - shattering their skulls with a blunt object. Shulman then dismembered his victims - before discarding their body parts in various locations.
In 1999 Shulman was convicted of murdering Warner, 18, of Jamaica, Queens, whose body was found in April 1995 at a Brooklyn recycling plant; Kelly Sue Bunting, 28, of Hollis; and an unidentified woman whose body was found in December 1994 by the side of Long Island Avenue in Medford.
Two other victims, Lori Vasquez, 24, of Brooklyn, and another unidentified woman were found dumped in Yonkers. Shulman was separately tried and convicted for their murders.
Shulman was sentenced to death, but his sentence was nullified by a 2004 Court of Appeals ruling that found part of the state's capital punishment law to be unconstitutional.
Shulman's Hauppauge defense attorney Paul Gianelli said his client's life was one ravaged by mental disease and a tragic childhood. Shulman maintained his innocence when he was resentenced in November.
John Collins, chief of homicide for the district attorney, faced off with Shulman in court that day. "The legacy left by Robert Shulman is one of abject violence and senseless destruction of precious human life," Collins said. "The sooner he is forgotten by the people of Suffolk County, the better."