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Rhinebeck native charged in gruesome murder
Roommate stabs fellow Bard graduate to death in Queens
BY JIM LANGAN • ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 10/4/16
Render Stetson Shanahan, a Rhinebeck native, was charged last week with the murder of his roommate, Carolyn Bush, in Queens.
Shanahan grew up in Rhinebeck and attended Rhinebeck High School before graduating from Bard College with a degree in history. During high school and college Shanahan worked at Samuel’s in Rhinebeck. His parents are active members of the community and well regarded. His father, Danny Shanahan, is a noted cartoonist best known for his New Yorker cartoons. He has also published numerous books featuring his work. His mother, Janet Stetson, is the Senior Associate Dean of Admissions at Bard College.
It was at Bard that Shanahan came to know Carolyn Bush. At some point Shanahan and Bush crossed paths again in New York City. By then Carolyn Bush was working as a part-time librarian and waitress in the Ridgewood section of Queens. It was during that time that Bush, an avid reader, co-founded the East Williamsburg library and literary space, “Wendy’s Subway,” described by her childhood friend Pamela Tinnen as “a place to work and be with like-minded creative people.” Tillen said Wendy’s Subway was Bush’s “whole life.”
Shanahan meanwhile worked as a self-described “psychedelic artist” while also working at a company making shipping crates for transporting art in New York City. There is no indication the two were ever romantically involved. At some point the two 26-year-old Bard grads reconnected in New York and Shanahan moved into her second floor Queens apartment to help with the rent. According to friends, Bush found Shanahan to be a good roommate and the two got along.
So it came as a shock when news broke that Shanahan stabbed and killed Bush last Wednesday night as she chatted on the phone with a friend. According to a statement Shanahan is said to have made to police, he went up to Bush and said, “Guess what?” and then stabbed her in the back, neck and arm. At some point Shanahan also stabbed himself in the leg. After attacking Bush, Shanahan went out on the street where he encountered neighbor Joshua Cruz. By then Shanahan was dressed only in his boxer shorts. He then threatened to stab Cruz while telling him, “I’m not going to have a lease anymore.” Shanahan then broke several car windows on the street before being arrested by police. Shanahan told police he had “smoked weed and drank a lot of beer” before the murder.
Shanahan’s lawyer, Phillip Middler, said his client had been wearing grey sweatpants and a white shirt during the attack and was still wearing them at his Friday arraignment. Middler claims the clothing should have been taken into evidence. Middler also asked the court for a psychological evaluation of his client and the request was granted. “There is a psychological difficulty he is currently going through,” said Middler. Shanahan has been charged with murder, criminal mischief, menacing and possession of a weapon. He is due back in court with a new lawyer on October 17.
Meanwhile, friends of Carolyn Bush have established a GoFundMe page to cover her funeral expenses. Pamela Timmen is quoted on Bush’s Crowdfund page as saying, “Carolyn should be described always as a poet and a beloved friend. She had a beautiful mind.” To date, $4,795 has been raised as of press time on Tuesday.