Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Kendall Francois

The Investigation

For the next few months, the police tried many different tactics to locate the missing women. Helicopter searches were made of the Dutchess County area by air. State Police searched the Hudson River and municipalities along the shore on a regular basis. Police informants were pressed for any information on the case. Hundreds of people were interviewed. With no hard evidence and no bodies, police were stumped. Although they realized the suspicious nature of the disappearances, the investigation was at a standstill.

Poughkeepsie Police Department
Poughkeepsie Police Department

But there was an ominous feeling among the detectives. Former F.B.I profiler Gregg McCrary told the Associated Press that the disappearances "were well beyond suspicious." And because some of the women were prostitutes made the situation worse because prostitutes get into cars with just about anyone.

To complicate the situation further, different suspects continuously drifted in and out of the case. One man from the South, who had arrived in the Poughkeepsie area in the summer of 1997, became a suspect when it was revealed he was a convicted rapist and also a suspect in an unrelated missing persons. Almost to the very end of the case, this individual was considered a major suspect in the disappearances. Another city resident came to the attention of the police when prostitutes said that he was very rough with the girls during sex. In June of 1997, another local man was arrested for the rape and assault of a Poughkeepsie woman. Later he was found to be in custody during the disappearances of the first three women. A boyfriend of one of the missing women was also considered suspect because he had an extensive criminal record and had assaulted women in the past. But as various suspects were developed and abandoned, Kendall Francois remained on the list.

The public grew more concerned and criticism of the police was growing. There was a feeling in the community that the police were not taking the reports seriously since the missing women may have been prostitutes. Early on, street people were well aware of the situation since they were accustomed to seeing these women on a daily basis. The disappearances were very obvious to them. But the police rejected the criticism. Lt. Siegrist said "These girls don't have set schedules. It took time for the families to realize something was wrong, and then they even thought for a while they might turn up."

By the time the stories began to appear in the newspapers, the City of Poughkeepsie Police had already working the case for more than eight months. Of course, the public could not be told of the details of that investigation, so the police had to take the criticism mostly in silence.

In early January, 1998, Poughkeepsie Police made a decision to interview Francois about the missing women. They staked out the Francois home at 99 Fulton Avenue and soon discovered that Francois had a routine that he often followed. In the morning he would take the family car, drive his mother to work at a nearby psychiatric center where she was a nurse, drop her off and then return to downtown Poughkeepsie where he would cruise the streets.

On one cold morning, Lt. Siegrist and his detectives pulled over Francois and asked him to come into the police department for an interview. Francois, who had a calm and respectful demeanor, readily agreed and drove his own car over to the police station. Francois was interviewed over a period of several hours and answered all questions police asked of him. Of course, police still had no concrete ideas exactly what had happened to the missing girls and no clue where they could be found. But Francois was easy to talk to and cooperative. The police, however, were not convinced.

Poughkeepsie police accompanied him to his home where Francois even let a detective inside his room for a brief time. The detective reported back that the inside of the house was in horrendous condition. There was garbage virtually everywhere he could see. It smelled awful. But Francois made no admissions and said nothing incriminating. By law, he was free to go about his business.

Then in late January, 1998 Kendall Francois was arrested for assaulting a prostitute. The crime took place on the second floor of 99 Fulton Avenue. At that time , the girl said she was picked up by Kendall Francois on Cannon Street, Poughkeepsie, near South Hamilton. Kendall drove her to his house where he took the girl up to his room on the second floor. They had a dispute over money and Kendall punched her in the face, knocking her down onto the bed. He then got on top of her and began to choke her with his bare hands. She agreed to have sex with him and when he finished, he brought the girl back to Cannon Street.

The victim reluctantly reported the incident to the police and pressed charges against him. Francois was arrested and received the assistance of an attorney. Later, on May 5, he pled guilty to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, in City Court. He spent a total of 15 days in jail.

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