|For Immediate Release
Case # 09ZF0078 July 22, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
VIRGINIA MAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE FOR MURDERING 71-YEAR-OLD INVESTOR AFTER LURING VICTIM ONTO BOAT UNDER PRETENSE OF MEETING FEDERAL AGENTS FOR SECRET INVESTMENT DEAL
SANTA ANA – A Virginia man was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for murdering a 71-year-old victim and dumping his body in the ocean after luring him onto a boat under the false pretense of meeting federal agents to discuss a secret investment deal. Gary A. Shawkey, 47, Mechanicsville, VA, was found guilty by a jury June 21, 2011, of one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain, one felony count of grand theft, and a sentencing enhancement for stealing over $200,000.
Between January 2004 and February 2008, Shawkey stole approximately $1.2 million from Robert Vendrick, a 71-year-old retired Phoenix man who had worked in the software industry. The defendant convinced Vendrick to invest in fake investments with the promise of high returns.
As the victim became reluctant to continue investing money with Shawkey, the defendant persuaded Vendrick to invest in a new venture involving the development of top-secret computer software for the federal government. The defendant convinced Vendrick to wire $100,000 to a bank account in Shawkey’s name and told the victim to fly to Orange County to meet with federal agents to finalize the project.
In February 2008, the defendant and victim arrived in Orange County. Shawkey purchased a 23-foot sailboat and convinced the victim to sail with him to San Clemente Island to meet with federal agents. Shawkey and Vendrick got on the boat and sailed out of Dana Point Harbor. The victim was never seen again.
Sometime between Feb. 14, 2008, and Feb. 24, 2008, Shawkey murdered Vendrick and disposed of the body in the ocean for financial gain.
In February 2009, Shawkey was arrested in Virginia on unrelated theft charges. He was in custody in Virginia when charges were filed against him in Orange County for the murder of Vendrick that same month. The defendant was extradited to Orange County March 26, 2009, to face those charges.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.