Deadly Women Wiki

Sylvia Seegrist is a paranoid schizophrenic who opened fire at Springfield Mall in Springfield, Pennsylvania with a Ruger 10/22 rifle. She killed three people and wound seven.

She was found guilty but mentally ill and was put in a psychiatric hospital for life.


Sylvia Seegrist had an obsession with the military and paranoid schizophrenia, diagnosed in 1975. When she attempted to enlist in the Army but was discharged in early 1985 due to her mental illness. She often had to be removed from malls. She muttered to herself and used profane language.

She had regular delusions but refused to take medication. Although her mother attempted to help her, she couldn't force Sylvia to take the medication.

Seegrist had been in many mental hospitals for years. Seegrist feared that her mother and her doctors were trying to hurt her through medication, so she hid them instead of taking them. Seegrist feared her mother wanted to send her back to a hospital. She viewed a mental hospital was worse than prison. She decided to kill people to go to prison instead of a hospital.

On October 30, 1985, Sylvia Seegrist dressed in Army fatigues and went into the Springfield Mall in Springfield, Pennsylvania. She approached with a .22 caliber Ruger 10/22 rifle and began shooting. She missed the first four people she shot because she was firing from the hip. One of the men she shot at slashed her tires to prevent her from escaping. Initially, witnesses thought Seegrist was a man, due to her short hair and her Army fatigues.

She was hardly aiming when she hit 2-year old Recife Cosmen in the chest, who would later die.

Entering the mall, Seegrist fired indiscriminately, only hitting seven people. Some witnesses recognized Seegrist who had visited the mall before, complaining in clothing stores how bright the colors were bothering her.

Seegrist continued firing while conversing with the voices in her head through clenched teeth. As she muttered to herself, she shot Dr. Ernest Trout three times, who died in the hospital. She then fatally shot Augusto Ferrara.

John Laufer, mistaking Seegrist for a prankster, seized the gun from her, saying, "You picked the wrong person to mess with." His intervention caused Sylvia to briefly experience lucidity and she was arrested.

Seegrist was found guilty (but mentally ill) of three counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder. She was served three life sentences.

While in prison, a medicated Seegrist criticized her ability to easily purchase a rifle for $104. While signing the forms to buy the gun, she checked no on the part that asked if she had a mental illness, similar to Laurie Dann. She wrote to politicians, including President Bill Clinton, asking for more gun control, saying, "I shouldn't have been allowed to get this gun."

Seegrist after being arrested