A Monster Among Us — The Shawn Kane Story

The subject matter and documents contained herein relate to sensitive subjects, including rape, murder, and assault. Readers continue on at their own discretion.

When I first came across the photos from a November 8th prostitution arrest in my drafts folder, I figured it would turn out to be like any other blurb I write. Like I do with most arrests, I allowed my curiosity to get the better of me, and I decided to look into who this infamous thirty-dollar man is. A lot of commenters on the original article were confused as to why the arrest was posted, saying it “wasn’t a big deal” and that no one should care.

This article will explain how we at Live Boston came to the conclusion that everyone should care.

Shawn Kane is very much an active danger to the community, specifically at risk women and girls who live and work on the streets. Kane is a local evil, festering in the shadows. An unchecked predator, who has killed before, and may have already killed again. A man who is, as we post this, walking the streets freely.

On December 28 1995, then 22 year old Shawn Kane was taken into custody at the Quincy Police Station by virtue of an outstanding arrest warrant on charges stemming from the brutal rape, torture and murder of a 17-year-old prostitute the year prior. Kane, who lived with his parents and was the father of a sixth month old, was charged with unarmed robbery, rape, and first degree murder.

According to documents obtained by our team, Norfolk County prosecutor Gerald Pudolsky presented evidence that Shawn Kane and his friend Robert Larkin drove to Boston’s ‘Combat Zone’ on the night of Nov. 10, 1994, to pick up a prostitute. Starting in the mid 60’s and lasting until the late 90’s the ‘Combat Zone’, which is now referred to as the Theater District, was a hot bed for sex work and other nefarious activities. During this time, the City of Boston had zoned the area specifically for adult entertainment, allowing for numerous strip clubs, pornography theaters, and sex shops to operate freely with the city’s blessing.

While cruising the area, Kane and Larkin attempted to solicit prostitutes. Larkin later testified that they had difficulty getting women to enter a car with two men, and therefore decided to have Kane hide on the floor in the back seat. Larkin finally persuaded a shy, yet troubled, teenager named Sonia Leal to enter the car. She agreed to go back to Quincy with him, unaware that Kane was hiding in the vehicle.

Sonia Leal
Photo provided by the family of Sonia Leal, digitally enhanced by Live Boston.

The men brought young Leal to a house at 32 Newbury Street in Quincy, which Larkin shared with a man named Kevin Lynch. Larkin then took Leal into his bedroom where he paid $75 dollars for sexual services. After Larkin was done, Leal attempted to leave, however, the three men had other plans.

Portion of the Prosecutors summary of evidence during Shawn Kane’s plea hearing

According to court documents and news coverage from the time, Kevin Lynch openly admitted in testimony to participating in the brutal rape, torture, and murder of 17 year old Sonia Leal. He testified that after hours of raping and abusing Leal, they eventually realized she was no longer breathing. When her body was finally discovered by authorities a roll of Everlast hand tape, used for boxing, was found tightly wound around her neck. Her cause of death would later be determined to be asphyxiation.

After keeping her lifeless body in the basement for a day, the three men spent the following night attempting to dispose of Leal’s remains in the Quincy Quarry, her body weighed down with three cinderblocks.

30-year-old Robert Larkin and 21-year-old Kevin Lynch were subsequently sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of First-Degree Murder.

In a shocking turn of events, Shawn Kane struck a deal with prosecutors, exchanging information regarding the location of another body for the lesser charge of manslaughter, and just 19 years in prison. The state offered this deal despite the fact that Kane having knowledge of the body’s location indicates his possible involvement in another murder.

Court transcript of Shawn Kane admitting guilt in exchange for reduction of First Degree Murder charge to Manslaughter.

21-year-old Karen Hammond went missing in early January, 1995. She was seen at a Store 24 in Dorchester. Hammond was the mother of two young children, having her first at just 17 years old. Friends claimed she was known to use drugs, and work as a prostitute. Karen, whom was also described as “troubled” in area newspapers, went missing just two months after Sonia Leal’s murder.

Missing flier placed at the former Quarry.

At Kane’s direction, an underwater search of the Quincy Quarry was undertaken, with hopes of finding Hammond’s body. Divers located a petite nude female’ corpse at a depth of approximately 50 feet, as they were descending in to the water. An underwater marker was tied near the body so it could be recovered, but it came loose, and the remains were never found again. It is widely believed that these were the remains of Karen Hammond. The quarry was drained, and filled with dirt from the Big Dig, in 2000.

According to Superior Court documents, the state attempted to label Mr. Kane a sex offender, an action which he fought in 2014, before his release. Though he had pled guilty to his part in the rape and murder of Sonia Leal, due to the plea deal, he was never officially convicted of rape or any sex crime.

Shawn Kane’s response to the Commonwealth’s opposition of his motion to enforce the plea agreement.

Shawn Kane served 16 years of his 19 year manslaughter plea deal sentence at MCI Cedar Junction. He was released in 2015. On April 7, 2017, Shawn Kane was again arrested. This time, he was charged with rape and domestic assault and battery after an incident that took place in Quincy. Following his arraignment, he was ordered to be held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing. Again, he was eventually released.

In 2018, while the case was ongoing, Kane was charged with threatening and intimidating the victim in the 2017 incident. According to 911 transcripts, which were obtained by Live Boston, a mere seven minutes after the restraining order preventing Kane from contacting her had expired, he appeared and began threatening to murder the victim. Luckily, Officers were able to quickly find the woman, and Kane fled after hearing the sirens. The rape and assault cases were later dropped when, according to sources, the victim refused to further assist the state with prosecution out of fear of Kane.

In early 2020, Kane petitioned the court to seal his record. A petition that was apparently denied or has not yet been heard, considering that we have all of the records of Mr. Kane’s various crimes, and his clear pattern of targeting vulnerable young women with acts of obscene sexual violence. The complete collection of those documents is available at the bottom of this article.

As for his arrest on November 8, Shawn Kane was released on personal recognizance. A cold blooded monster that targets sex workers was allowed to freely walk out of court, after again soliciting a prostitute. Despite this being another clear indication that Kane is what many people would consider a habitual sexual predator. Despite his involvement in the rape and murder of Sonia Leal. Despite his knowledge of the location of Karen Hammond’s body. Despite the fact that he raped another woman shortly after being released. Despite him threatening to kill the victim unless the charges were dropped.

This is just another story in the long line of failures by our justice system. Who knows what Shawn Kane had been doing between his last contact with Police in 2018 and his arrest earlier this month. How many young sex workers have gone missing in our city? Does Shawn Kane know the location of their bodies? The fact that after spending nearly two decades behind bars this monster is not only allowed to roam the streets, but that the court system is less than concerned that he is revisiting his old patterns is terrifying.

Predators, such as Kane, do not stop. We believe it is just a matter of time before this man kills again, if he has not already. Due to the State’s lack of concern for public safety, a violent rapist and murderer walks among us.

Stay safe, Boston.