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Pennsylvania Man Killed Girlfriend's Daughter, Stashed Body in Freezer — 'I Had No Idea the Monster That He Was'

Man Raped, Killed Ex-Girlfriend's 12-Year-Old Daughter
Source: Columbia Borough Police Department, GoFundMe

Jason Shackelford (left) will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the murder of Elaina Smith (right).

Mar. 5 2024, Published 2:01 p.m. ET

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After years of threats, violence and sexual assault, a registered sex offender in Pennsylvania raped and killed his ex-girlfriend’s 12-year-old daughter. He will now spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Jason Shackelford recently was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, rape of a child and other offenses, WGAL reported. He was also sentenced to an additional life plus 25 to 50 years in connection with another rape.

"This is one of the most vile, heinous crimes we've ever seen here," Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick said. "I hope he thinks about Elaina's face every day for the rest of his life and he's tortured by it."

Late the evening of Feb. 8, 2023, Shackelford, 40, was watching a movie in bed with the girl, Elaina Smith, while her mother was at work, the Columbia Borough Police Department said.

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According to police, sometime during the night, Shackelford admitted he raped the girl and then strangled her to death.

After committing the killing, Shackelford drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes for hours and took the child's body into the basement and put it into a freezer.

On Feb. 10, 2023, East Lampeter Township police responded to a domestic incident involving Elaina’s mother and Shackelford. The woman told police that Shackelford was “involved in having her (daughter) kidnapped and removed from her custody” while she was at work, police said.

At the time, Shackelford agreed to go to Columbia to speak with investigators about the possible kidnapping.

According to police, the woman said Shackelford raped her on Feb. 9, 2023, and then forced her to go with him to an area hotel, getting her to cooperate "by using (Elaina’s) wellbeing as leverage.”

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At the hotel, Shackelford raped her again, the woman alleged to police. He then let the woman leave the room to smoke a cigarette, which is when she went to the front desk and asked hotel staff to call authorities, police said.

Police obtained a warrant to search the home and they found Elaina's body in the freezer.

“We don’t want people to remember her by the terrible thing that happened to her. We want people to remember her (as) the strong, beautiful, caring, intelligent and just life-filled little girl," Sheriece Smith, the young victim's aunt, told Lancaster Online, "She made everyone better for knowing and loving her.”


Elaina’s former step-grandfather David Rowley told Lancaster Online: “Jason had been in this house quite a few times for barbecues and stuff like that. He was very polite, friendly, laughable. ... I had no idea the monster that he was. I had no idea. And that’s the scary thing about these kinds of people. They know how to fit into our society.”

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Shackelford and Elaina’s mother have a long history of violence, and he was on Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law list for sexually assaulting the woman in December 2019, Lancaster Online reported.

In Aug. 2021, Shackelford was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to indecent assault, terroristic threats and a firearms violation.

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