Just three days before Christmas, a 911 call was placed just after 8 in the evening, bringing what would be, all told, almost 50 cops from four different agencies to the Old Route 209 residence of Anne Gaffney. Nearly four hours later, one of Gaffney’s own tenants — 34-year-old Shawn Tyler — had been found after a foot search and charged with bludgeoning the 54-year-old woman to death in the wake of an apparent robbery gone very wrong in a house long suspected of harboring bad behavior.
State police Senior Investigator Pete Kusminsky on Tuesday broadly outlined the investigation. Kusminsky said police believe the motive for the killing was robbery; an undisclosed amount of cash, which police believe was Gaffney’s and Gaffney’s credit card were later found on the premises but not on Tyler’s person.
Kusminsky was tight-lipped about the details and refused to state whether or not the suspect had drugs on his person. But Kusminsky did say that the apparent robbery motive was not drug-related. “We knew he was on foot in the area and got a perimeter set up quickly,” said Kusminsky. “We knew he was there. Luckily we had a lot of people there very quickly.” Kusminsky said Tyler was found hiding under a camper trailer approximately three-quarters of a mile away from the scene of the crime. Tyler has no felonies in his background, and only one misdemeanor conviction for loitering, dating back to 1998, said Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright.
Kusminsky said there were no prior records of any calls to the house regarding disputes between Gaffney and Tyler, nor were there records of calls regarding just Tyler himself. He would not confirm how many incident calls had been received about the boarding house in general. Kusminsky refused to say how many people were in the house during the killing, though he did say that on the night of the killing, two 911 calls were placed by two different tenants in the house — the second having come in while the police were already being dispatched. Kusminsky said a total of four tenants were renting rooms from Gaffney at the time of the killing. Kusminsky would not confirm how many, if any, are convicted felons.
Slideshow image: Shawn Tyler’s mugshot.