Springfield Mall's 1985 Shooter: Where is She Now?

A Springfield resident killed 3 and injured 7 in mass shooting, 27 years ago.


On Oct. 30, 1985, Sylvia Seegrist opened fire in the Springfield Mall parking lot and then proceeded inside. Once inside, she killed a 2-year-old child and two men, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer

Many others were wounded before, John Laufer, a local graduate student, managed to confront and stop Seegrist until a security guard was able to handcuff her. 

After being apprehended, Seegrist's only explanation for her actions was, "My family makes me nervous," according to TruTv.

Mental Illness Sited

Seegrist, then age 25, had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia 10 years before her mall shooting rampage. According to The Baltimore Sun, Seegrist had previously been committed to a mental hospital and she feared her mother planned to recommit her. 

Connection to Recent Events

In light of the recent mass shooting at an Aurora, CO, cinema, questions are being raised about how to detect and help mentally ill people before they harm themselves or others. 

The 1985 incident started a discussion about individual rights and the state's authority to commit potentially dangerous people.

Where Is She Now?

Prior to the 1986 trial, Seegrist was held at Norristown State Hospital. Following the trial, in which Seegrist was given three life sentences, she was sent to Mayview State Hospital before being transferred to the State Correctional Institution in Muncy where she still resides. 

"Every time October 30 rolls around, I have a hard time that day. I have a hard time not crying...the idea that I hurt people...it's hard to describe," said Seegrist in a 1991 Baltimore Times article.

Share your thoughts with Patch in the comments below.

Craig Camacho July 24, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I remember hearing that on my CB radio immediatley after it happened and couldn't believe it.
Lucy Bennett July 24, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Craig, Did you live close to the mall at the time?
Barbara Resnick Polcino July 25, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I was there that day.my friend and I had just gotten off the esculator and headed towards herman's sporting goods.we were looking at ski gloves on a table on the outside of the store when the gunshots erupted.it was near Halloween...so I thought a kid had a cap gun...as there was a toy store a short distance away.it wasn't until all of the gates of the different stores started coming down that I thought something must be wrong.we were held in the store for four hours.it wasn't till I got out of there and turned on radio in my car and heard what happened....we were Lucky....10 more seconds and we would been upstairs in the line of fire.
Laura Haas July 25, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Thank you for sharing your experience Barbara. I can't imagine what that must have been like.
Bob Byrne July 26, 2012 at 01:39 AM
This was at a time before cable news and conservative talk radio. She was a very seriously (by her own admission) disturbed individual. I wonder how the same incident would have been covered differently today. The Baltimore Sun article from 1991 is also a little ahead of its time in outlining the physiological realities of serious mental health issues. The shooter herself talks about her problems as a physical, more than a psychological issue. Today, this convicted mass murderer is exactly where she belongs as determined by the justice system. Looking at ways to curb these horrible incidents, perhaps it's time to clear away some more of the stigmas of mental health issues in general and talk about treating mental illnesses tied to physical problems the way we treat cancer or any other serious phsysical conditions. We don't stigmatize cancer patients, we treat them (in general terms). Continued work toward lifting the labels and stigmas of mental illness might help get better, faster treatment for those like Sylvia Seegrist. Perhaps working to understand and reduce the stigmas associated with mental heal issues may also protect society as a whole better against incidents like this one, and the horror in Aurora, Colorado. Is that the whole solution? Obviously not. Is it PART of the solution? Share your thoughts here.


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