Home Phoenix Press Releases 2011 Guilty Verdict Reached in 1973 Murder of Tucson Woman

Guilty Verdict Reached in 1973 Murder of Tucson Woman

U.S. Attorney’s Office July 28, 2011
  • District of Arizona (602) 514-7500

TUCSON, AZ—William Floyd Zamastil, 57, of Waupan, Wisconsin, charged with first-degree murder for the 1973 murder of Leesa Jo Shaner, of Tucson, was found guilty today by a federal jury in Tucson. The case was tried before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Frank R. Zapata from July 12 to 28, 2011.

The defendant remains in custody after trial. Sentencing is set before Judge Zapata on October 5, 2011. The federal indictment alleged that Zamastil killed Ms. Shaner on Fort Huachuca, Ariz., on or about May 29, 1973. A conviction for first-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“The jury’s verdict in this case may finally bring some peace to the Shaner family knowing her murderer has been held accountable,” stated U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke of today’s verdict. “Justice has been served by the tireless efforts of our federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents.”

“The FBI is extremely gratified by this verdict,” Phoenix Division FBI Special Agent in Charge James Turgal, Jr. stated. “While there can be no real justice for Leesa Jo Shaner’s family, at least they were able to witness her killer being called to answer for his crimes,” the SAC added. SAC Turgal noted that present in the courtroom every day were Ms. Shaner’s mother, husband, son, and three sisters, nearly all of whom reside outside Arizona. SAC Turgal expressed satisfaction that the FBI “never gave up” and worked almost 40 years to solve this case. All the FBI agents assigned to the investigation over the decades “worked their hearts out” to bring this matter to a successful conclusion.

The evidence at trial showed that Ms. Shaner left her family home around 9:25 p.m. on May 29, 1973, to pick up her husband from the Tucson International Airport. When her husband arrived he could not find her. The car she drove to the airport was later found in the airport parking lot with the driver’s window halfway down, the car unlocked and her purse inside on the back seat. Despite an extensive search, Ms. Shaner could not be located.

In September 1973, Ms. Shaner’s remains were found in a shallow grave on Ft. Huachuca, Ariz. Witnesses testified and evidence was presented at trial that Zamastil abducted her from the airport and took her to Ft. Huachuca where he raped, murdered, and buried her. Law enforcement officials first became aware of Zamistil’s involvement in Ms. Shaner’s rape and murder in 1979 while he was imprisoned for the rape and murder of a Wisconsin woman.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Sandra M. Hansen and Carmen F. Corbin, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.

RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-164 (Zamastil)

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