- Rape - Mutilation
Number of victims: 2
- 9 +
Date of murders: 1969
Date of arrest: April 7, 1973
Date of birth:
Victims profile: Leigh Hainline Bonadies,
Hallock, 22 / Belinda Hutchens, 22
Goodenough, 19, and Barbara Ann Wilcox,
19 / Susan Place, 17, and Georgia Jessup, 16 /
Briscolina, 14, and Elsie Lina Farmer, 14
Method of murder:
Location: Florida, USA
to two concurrent terms of life
in October 1973.
On December 3,
1995, Schaefer was found stabbed to death in his cell. He had been
killed by fellow inmate Vincent Faustino Rivera
Schaefer was born in Wisconsin on March 25, 1946, the oldest of three children
in a family he later describes as "turbulent and conflictual."
later, intervicwed by court-appointed psychiatrists, he would refer to himself
as "an illegitimate child," the product of a hasty shotgun wedding.
He describes his father as a verbally abusive alcoholic, flagrantly
adulterous and often absent from home on business trips or otherwise.
By 1960, Schaefer's family had settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
He graduated high school there in 1964, and he was working on the first
of severas college degrees when his parents divorced three years later.
that time, if we accept Schaefer's statements to psychiatrists, he was well on
the way to troubles of his own.
"From an early age," Dr. R. C. Eaton recorded in 1973,
"[Schaeferl has had numerous sexual hang-ups."
bondage and sadomasochism began around age 12.
"I'd tie myself up to a tree," he told Dr. Mordecai Haber,
"and I'd get excited sexually and do something to hurt myself."
Around the same time he began to "masturbate and fantaslze about hurting
other people, women in particular." As if this wercn't enough, Schaefer
recalled, "I discovered womens underwearpanties.
Sometimes I wore them.
I wanted to hurt myself.
violent self-loathing went back to his earliest childhood games.
In those games, he told Dr. Haber, "I always got killed.
I wanted to die.
My father favored my sister, so I wanted to be a girl.
I wanted to die. I was such a disappointment to my family as a kid, to
my father-he loved my sister. 1 couldn't please my father, so in playing games
I wanted to be killed."
claimed to have visited a psychiatrist in 1966, seeking relief from his sexual
deviance and homicidal fantasies, but therapy didn't help.
If his later statements are credible, he kept on hearing volces
"telling him to kill." That same year, he toured the South with
Moral Rearmament, the cheery "Up With People" folks who sang that
freedom isn't free.
Schaefer thought about the priesthood as a calling, but he was turned
away from St. john's Seminary, where, he recalled, "they said I didn't
have enough falth." The rejection angered Schaefer so
much that he quit the Catholic Church.
next goal was a teaching job, through which he hoped to instill "American
values" like "honesty, purity, unselfishness and love," but
Schacfer was twice dropped from student~teaching programs for "trying to
impose his own moral and political values on his students." The second
time, supervisor Richard Goodhart recalls, "l told him when he left that
he'd better never let me hear of his trying to get a job with any authority
over other people, or I'd do anything 1 could to prevent ¡t. "
1968, Schaefer married Martha Fogg, but ¡t didn't work out.
Martha filed for divorce in May 1970, claiming "extreme
Schaefer took a few weeks to recuperate in Europe and North
Africa that summer, coming home with a new goal in life.
If he couldn't be a priest or a teacher, he would be a policeman.
He applied to severas departments and was rejected by the Broward
County sheriff's office after failing a psychological test, but the small
Wilton Manors Police Department hired him anyway.
In March 1972, Schacfer earned a commendation for his role in a drug
bust; one month later, on
April 20, he was fired.
Explanations vary: Chief Bernard Scott later said that Schaefer didn't
have "an ounce of common sense," while ex-FBI Agent Robert Ressler
reports that Schaefer was disciplined for running female traffic violators
through the departments computer, obtaining personal information, and later
calling them for dates.
the cause of his firing, Schacfer needed a job.
Near the end of june, he signed on with the Martin County Sheriff's
Department, pulling up stakes and moving to Stuart, Florida.
He had been on the 'ob less than a month when he made a "dumb
mistake" that would cost him his career and his freedom.
July 21, 1972, Schaefer picked up two hitchhikers, 17-year-old Pamela Wells
and 18-year-old Nancy Trotter, on the highway near a local beach.
He told them (falsely) that hitchhiking was ¡Ilegal in Martin County,
then drove them back to a halfway house where they were staying.
Schaefer offered to meet them next morning, off duty, and drive them to
the beach himself.
The girls agreed, but instead of taking them to the beach on uly 22,
Schaefer drove them to swampy Hutchinson Island off State Road AlA.
There, he started making sexual remarks, then drew a gun and told the
girls he planned to sell them as "white slaves" to a forcign
Forcing them out of the car, he bound both girls and left them balanced
on tree roots with nooses around their necks, at risk of hanging lf they
slipped and fell.
Schaefer left them then, promising to return shortly, but the girls
escaped in his absence and reached the highway, where they flagged down a
passing police car.
They had no problem identifying their assailant, since Schaefer had
told them his name.
that time, Schaefer had discovered their escape and telephoned Sheriff Richard
"I've done something foolish," Schaefer told his boss.
"You're going to be mad at me." He had "overdone"
his job, Schaefer said, trylng to "scare" the girls out of
hitchhiking in the future for their own good.
Fired on the spot, charged with false imprisonment and two counts of
aggravated assault, Schaefer was released on $15,000 bond.
At trial in November 1972, he pled guilty on one assault charge and the
other counts were dropped. judge D. C. Smith called Schaefer a
"thoughtless fool" and sentenced him to a year in county jail to be
followed by three years' probation.
The ex-deputy began serving his sentence on January 15, 1973.
most shocking revelations were yet to come, however.
Two other girls were missing from the neighborhood, and they would not
be as lucky as Trotter and Wells.
On September 27, 1972, while Schaefer was free on bond pending trial,
17-year-old Susan Place and 16 year-old Georgia Jessup had vanished from Fort
Susan's parents said the girls were last seen at her house, leaving
with an older man named "Gerry Shepherd" on their way to "play
guitar" at a nearby beach.
They never carne back, but Lucille Place had noted Schacfers license
number, along with a description of his blue-green Datsun. lt was March 25,
1973, before sluggish investigators traced the plate number back to Schaefer,
by which time he was already in jail for assaulting teenage girls.
denied any contact with Place and Jessup, but the case began unraveling on
April 1, 1973, when skeletal remains were found on Hutchinson Island by three
men collecting aluminum cans.
Four days later, the victims were identified from dental records.
Susan Place had been shot in the jaw, detectives remarking that
evidence from the crime scene indicated the two girls were "tied to a
tree and butchered."
On April 7, police searched the home of Schaefer's
mother, where Gerard had personal items stored in a spare bedroom.
Evidence recovered in the search included a stash of women's jewelry,
100-plus pages of writing and sketches depicting mutilation-murders of young
women, newspaper clippings about two women missing since 1969, and pieces of I.D. belonging to vanished hitchhikers Collette Goodenough
and Barbara Wilcox, both 19.
The two girls had last been seen alive on january 8, a week before
Schaefer was sent to jail in Martin County, and while their skeletal remains
were found in early 1977, no cause of death could be determined; thus no
charges were filed.
As for the news clips, one referred to the February 1969
disappearance of waitress Carmen Hallock, seemingly abducted from her home.
Items of her jewelry were found in Schafers hoard, along with a
gold-filled tooth identified by Hallocks dentist, but once again no charges
The second missing
woman, Leigh Bonadies, had been a neighbor of Schaefer's when she disappeared
in September 1969. He had
complained of her "taunting" him by undressing with her curtains
open, and a piece of her jeweiry was found among his belongings, but no
charges were filed when her skeletal remains were finally recovered in 1978.
More jewelry linked Schaefer to the disappearance of 14-year-old Mary
Briscolina, who vanished from Broward County with 13-year-old Elsie Farmer in
October 1972. Their skeletons
were found in early 1973, but once again no cause of death could be
determined, and no charges were filed.
The list of suspected victims would grow over time, but
Schaefer faced charges in only two murders.
He was indicted on May 18, 1973, for the slayings of Jessup and Place.
Held without bond pending trial, he was convicted on two counts of
first-degree murder in October 1973, drawing concurrent terms of life
imprisonment. Numerous appeals,
some 20 in all, were uniformly rejected by various state and federal courts.
Schaefer was nearly forgotten by 1990, when former high
school girlfriend Sondra London published a collection of his stories under
the title Killer Fiction. More volumes followed, Schaefer insisting that his
stories were art, police and prosecutors describing them as thinly veiled
descriptions of actual crimes.
private letters to attorneys and acquaintances, Schaefer admitted as much,
himself. Witness his reference to
a story titled "Murder Demons," in a letter dated April
9, 1991: "What crimes am I supposed to confess?
What do you think ["Murder Demons"] is?
You want confessions but don't recognize them when I anoint you with
them and we've just gotten started."
Other correspondence swiftly raised the body count.
"As you know," he wrote on january 20, 1991, "I've
always harped on [District Attorney Robertl Stone's list of 34.
In 1973 I sat down and drew up a list of my own.
As I recall, my list was just over 80." The next day, given more
time to reflect, Schafer went on: "I'm not claiming a huge number. . . .
I would say ¡t runs between 80 and 110.
But over eight years and three continents.... One whore drowned in her
own vomit while watching me disembowel her girlfriend.
I'm not sure that counts as a valid kill.
Did the pregnant ones count as two kills? lt can get confusing."
Years later, Schaefers letters came back to haunt him
when he was describes in severas true-crime books as a prolific serial killer.
His response, a series of lawsuits filed against various authors for
libel, were uniformly dismissed by the courts.
In one such case, judge William Steckler officially branded Schaefer a
serial killer, finding him "undeniably linked" to numerous murders
beyond the two for which he stood convicted.
"He boasts of the private and public associations he has based on
the reports that he is a serial killer of woríd-class proportions,"
Steckler wrote, lland ¡t is only arrogant perversity which propels him toward
this and similarly meritless lawsuits in which he claims otherwlse."
Schaefer's luck tan out on December 3, 1995, when another
inmate barged into his cell, slashed Schaefer's throat, and stabbed him in
both eyes. Prison officials named
the killer as inmate Vincent Rivera, serving life plus 20 years for two
murders in Tampa, but no specific motive has been offered. lt appears that
Schacfers reputation as a "rat" and troublemaker in the joint caught
up with him at last.
with the threat of nuisance litigation buried, gun-shy law enforcement
officers felt free to air their views on Schaefer.
Bill Hagerty, an ex-FBI agent who studied Schaefer for VICAP
the early 1980s, called him "one of the sickest. lf I had a list of the
top five, which would include all of the serial killers I have interviewed
throughout the country, he would definitely be in the top five." For
Shirley jessup, still mourning her daughter, Schaefer's murder was simply a
case of overdue justice.
"I'd like to send a present to the guy who killed him," she
"I've always believed he was going to get his. I just wish ¡t
would have been sooner than later.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
Reign of terror: 1969 - 1972
Leigh Hainline Bonadies
Murder and rape
Murder and rape
Murder and rape
Barbara Ann Wilcox
Murder and rape
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Murder and rape
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Murder and rape
Murder and rape
Murder and rape
Murder and rape
Method: He obtained his victims easily, as he was a police deputy.
He hung a noose round their necks, raped them and bound them. He shot
them with a .22 weapon.
Sentence: He was given two
life terms for the 1st degree murder of Susan and Georgia.
Interesting facts: The last
four offences all occurred whilst he was on bail for the false
imprisonment and aggravated assault of two girls.
Gerard John Schaefer
(March 25, 1946 - December 3, 1995) was a serial killer from
Florida, USA. He was imprisoned in 1973 for murders he committed as
While he was convicted of
murdering "only" two victims, he was suspected of many others.
Schaefer frequently appealed against his conviction, yet privately
boasted — both verbally and in writing — of having murdered over
thirty women and girls.
Born in 1946, Gerard Schaefer was
raised in Wisconsin until 1960, when he and his family moved to Fort
Lauderdale, Florida. Schaefer did not get on well with his father,
who he believed favored his sister. In his teens, Schaefer became
obsessed with women's panties and also became a peeping tom, spying
on a neighbor girl named Leigh Hainline. He would later admit to
killing animals in his youth and also cross dressing, although at
other times he claimed the latter was solely to avoid the draft into
the Vietnam War (which he did indeed managed to escape.)
After graduating high school in
1966, Schaefer studied at college, during which time he got married.
In 1969 he became a teacher, but was soon fired for "totally
inappropriate behaviour", according to the principal. After being
turned down from the priesthood, Schaefer turned to law enforcement
as a career, graduating as a patrolman at the end of 1971, at the
age of 25.
On July 21, 1972, Schaefer —
while on patrol — picked up two teenage girls who were hitch-hiking.
He abducted them, took them to some remote woods and tied them to
trees where he threatened to kill them or sell them into
prostitution. However, when he got a call on his police radio,
Deputy Sheriff Schaefer had to go, leaving the girls tied up. He
vowed that he would return.
The two girls, who were aged
eighteen and seventeen, managed to escape their bonds and went to
the nearest police station, which was actually their kidnapper's own
When Schaefer returned to the
woods and found his victims gone, he called his station and claimed
that he had done "something foolish," explaining that he had
pretended to kidnap and threaten to kill two hitch hikers in order
to scare them into avoiding such an irresponsible method of travel.
Schaefer's boss did not believe him and he ordered Schaefer to the
station where he stripped him of his badge and charged him with
false imprisonment and assault.
After posting bail, Schaefer was
released. Two months later, on September 27, 1972, Schaefer
abducted, tortured and murdered Susan Place, aged 17, and Georgia
Jessup, sixteen, and buried them on Hutchinson Island.
In December that year, Schaefer
appeared in court in relation to the abduction of the two girls who
had escaped his clutches back in July. Thanks to a plea bargain he
was able to plead guilty to just one charge of aggravated assault,
for which he received a sentence of one year.
In April 1973, over six months
since they vanished, the decomposing, butchered remains of Susan
Place and Georgia Jessup were found. The girls had been tied to a
tree at some point and had vanished whilst hitch hiking, and these
similarities to Schaefer's treatment of the girls who had managed to
get away lead police to obtain a search warrant for the home he and
his wife shared with Schaefer's (now divorced) mother.
In Schaefer's bedroom, police
found lurid stories he had written that were full of descriptions of
the torture, rape and murder of women, who the misogynistic Schaefer
routinely referred to as "whores" and "sluts." More damningly, the
authorities found personal possessions such as jewelry, diaries —
and in one case, teeth — from at least eight young women and girls
who had gone missing in recent years. Some of the jewelry was from
Leigh Hainline, who had lived next door to Schaefer when they were
teenagers; Hainline had vanished in 1969 after telling her husband
she was leaving him for a friend from childhood. Also among the
items was a purse identified as belonging to Susan Place. Place's
mother later identified Schaefer as being the man she last saw with
her daughter and Jessup.
Schaefer was charged with only
two murders, those of Place and Jessup. In October 1973, Schaefer
was found guilty and given two life sentences. Authorities soon
stated that he was linked to around 30 missing women and girls.
Place and Jessup were probably
not even Schaefer's final victims; two 14-year-old girls vanished
while hitch hiking just a few weeks after Place and Jessup were
killed. Their bodies were later recovered, and jewelry belonging to
one of the girls later found in Schaefer's home.
Imprisonment and Death
Schaefer appealed against his
conviction, claiming at one point that he had been framed. All his
appeals were rejected. Schaefer later began filing frivilous
lawsuits, trying to sue one true crime writer for daring to describe
him as being overweight and separately trying to sue authors Colin
Wilson and Michael Newton and former FBI agent Robert Ressler for
describing him (Schaefer) as a serial killer. All of Schaefer's
lawsuits were thrown out of court.
On December 3, 1995, Gerard
Schaefer was found stabbed to death in his cell. He had been killed
by a fellow inmate named Vincent Rivera. In 1999 Rivera was
convicted of killing Shaefer and had 53 years added onto the
life-plus-20 years he was already serving for double-murder.
Rivera did not confess to the
crime or give a motive. Schaefer's sister claimed that his murder
was some sort of cover up related to his attempts to verify the
confession to the killing of Adam Walsh that Ottis Toole had made
(and subsequently retracted.) Others suggested it was due to
Schaefer owing some prisoners money, or rumours that he was a
'snitch' who had been informing on other inmates. Sondra London (see
below) claimed Rivera killed Schaefer in an argument over a cup of
It is equally likely that
Schaefer was killed as a result of him simply not being very popular
in prison; he had been attacked on at least one other occasion and
his cell set on fire twice. Schaefer was not only a sex offender and
ex-police officer but was rumoured to have been an informant as
At the time of Schaefer's death,
a Fort Lauderdale homicide detective had been proposing to file
charges against Schaefer for three unsolved murders to ensure he
never got out of prison.
In high school, Schaefer had
dated Sondra London, who later became a true crime writer. She got
in touch with Schaefer following his conviction and in 1989 she
published Killer Fiction, short stories and drawings found in
Schaefer's house after his arrest. A follow-up, Beyond Killer
Fiction, was later released. Following his death, London
released another edition of Killer Fiction, containing the
stories and rambling articles by Schaefer that were in the previous
two books, together with Schaefer's letters to her where he boasted
of killing 34 women and girls and how he was admired by fellow
inmate Ted Bundy. At the same time Schaefer had been writing these
boastful claims, he was unsuccessfully appealing his conviction and
trying to sue anyone who dared to call him a serial killer.
The short stories Schaefer wrote
all featured the savage torture and murder of women, and though
labeled fiction, they clearly mirrored Schaefer's own fantasies and
his suspected crimes. They were often written from the killer's
perspective, the killer often a rogue cop — just like Schaefer. It
has been said that many tales were fictional representations of
Schaefer's own crimes.
In his writings, Schaefer claimed
to have started murdering women as early as 1965, when he was 19.
Two schoolgirls, nine-year-old
Peggy Rahn and eight-year-old Wendy Stevenson, vanished in late 1970
after being seen in the company of a man fitting Schaefer's
description. Schaefer denied being involved when he was publicly
accused of the crime but in a letter to London in 1989 he boasted of
killing and cannibalizing the two children.
London and Schaefer had briefly
been engaged in 1991, but London broke it off and got engaged (to
another serial killer from Florida, Danny Rolling.) Schaefer didn't
take the rejection well, and began sending her death threats. He
tried, unsuccessfully, to sue her three times for stealing his work.
In his death threats to London,
Schaefer had claimed to have links to the Dixie Mafia and the Ku
Klux Klan who would do his bidding on the outside. Nothing was
further from the truth; Schaefer was despised by fellow inmates and
had been attacked several times before he was murdered.
Gerard John Schaefer & Sondra London (1997) Feral House, ISBN:
The Encyclopedia of Serial
Killers. Michael Newton (2000) Checkmark
Books, ISBN: 0816039798
Cold-case cop won't
give up hunt
August 06, 2005
Before he was killed in prison, Gerard Schaefer
was suspected of killing dozens of young women across South Florida
Family members of many of his victims felt their
last chance to find out what happened to their loved ones died with
But one cop's passion to solve the cases did not
vanish when Schaefer, 49, was stabbed to death in 1995 in Florida
State Prison, where he was serving two life sentences for murder.
For the past year, Fort Lauderdale homicide
detective John Curcio has been gathering forensic evidence and
sending it to the FBI's 5-year-old Missing Persons DNA Database as a
means to identify remains found around South Florida.
Curcio started working with the family of Debora
Sue Lowe three months ago. The 13-year-old was last seen about 8:30
a.m. on a drizzly Tuesday as she walked to Rickards Middle School on
Feb. 29, 1972, wearing black slacks with roses, a yellow blouse and
a tan poncho.
Three of Debbie's siblings -- Eva, James and
Sherral -- recently submitted DNA samples to the Florida Department
of Law Enforcement's Missing Persons DNA Database in the hopes that
Debbie's remains will be matched.
The Lowe family's DNA also has been entered into
the FBI's national database.
Curcio believe Schaefer, a former Wilton Manors
police officer and a Martin County sheriff's deputy, abducted,
tortured, murdered and raped dozens of women across South Florida
and other states in the late '60s and early '70s.
Like Debbie, many of the missing never have been
''We believe Schaefer is responsible for the
murders of a lot of women,'' said Curcio, a veteran homicide
"We just have to find the families of his victims
and get their DNA entered and compare it to all the unidentified
remains sitting in Medical Examiner's Offices.''
He's currently trying to close the cases of two
young Fort Lauderdale women -- Carmen Hallock, 22, Belinda Hutchins,
22 -- who disappeared between 1968 and 1972. Curcio believes
Schaefer is responsible for the murder of a third Fort Lauderdale
woman, Leigh Bonadies Hainline, 25, who vanished in 1968. All had
ties to Schaefer.
Hallock and Hutchins had dated Schaefer. Hainline
was a childhood friend and tennis partner. Only Hainline's remains
When police executed a search warrant in 1973 in
the Fort Lauderdale house where Schaefer lived with his mother, they
found jewelry, teeth and other possessions belonging to each woman.
Police also found short stories in the home that
Schaefer wrote about abduction, rape and strangulation of young
women, including a woman named Carmen.
The Carmen in his story wore a black chiffon
The stories were typed double-spaced on white
paper. Schaefer admitted writing the stories, but said they were
Hallock's sister told police her sister bought a
new black dress for a date with a married teacher.
Schaefer, who was married, was a student teacher
at Plantation High School the same year Hallock disappeared.
Police never had enough evidence to try him on
the three cases.
He was convicted in September 1973 of the murders
of two Oakland Park teens, Susan Place, 17, and Georgia Jessup, 17.
Investigators found the remains of the teens on
Hutchinson Island in April 1973. They had been reported missing
after leaving with Schaefer in September 1972.
One of the girl's mother identified Schaefer as
the man who drove her daughter away.
Investigators say they got back one of the teens'
purse, a suede bag, from Schaefer's wife, who later divorced him.
Police suspect Schaefer abducted two young
Pompano Beach friends, Peggy Rahn, 9, and Wendy Stevenson, 8, in
December 1969. Witnesses told investigators the girls were last seen
in the company of a man buying them ice cream from a convenience
store at the beach. A clerk gave a description of a man who police
say fit Schaefer.
The girls have never been been found.
Because of an April 19, 1989 letter he wrote to a
friend while in prison, which was later published, investigators
fear he murdered the young girls and ate their remains.
He wrote, "Peggy and Wendy just happened along at
a time when I was curious about Fish's cravings for the flesh of
young girls. . . . I assure you these girls were not molested
sexually. I found both of them very satisfactory, particularly with
sautéed onions and peppers.''
Schaefer, who never talked to police about the
girls, was referring to Albert Fish, a New York serial killer in the
1930s who cannibalized his victims.
Investigators think Schaefer started as a serial
killer in his early 20s, possibly earlier.
He moved from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale with his
family in 1960, at age 14. He graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High
School, went to Broward Community College, transferred to Florida
He graduated from FAU in 1971 and joined the
Wilton Manors Police Department.
He was not good cop material.
Investigators say he was obsessed with writing
traffic tickets. Wilton Manors Police believe he used that as a way
to meet women.
Wilton Manors fired him after learning he had
applied for a job with the Broward Sheriff's Office.
Then-Wilton Manors Police Chief Bernard Scott
said Schaefer "used poor judgment and did dumb things.''
BSO didn't hire him.
He did get hired in Martin County in June 1972
with a glowing letter of recommendation from Scott.
Martin County later learned the letter was forged.
Shortly after getting hired, he was arrested on
charges of abducting two teenaged girls, who got away.
Police believe he committed scores of other
murders, but he was never charged.
Schaefer could ''talk with the best of them.''
said Richard McIlwain, a former investigator with the Martin County
State Attorney's office, who worked on the Oakland Park case.
''He never admitted to killing anyone to me,''
McIlwain said. "But the stuff he put in his writings, the details of
what we found at the crime scene were in his stories.''
Schaefer's writings talked about finding a spot
to bury the women and having them stand on an orange crate while he
''He'd strangle them, rape them, bury them and
then dig them up again to rape them again,'' McIlwain said.
Schaefer maintained the writings were fiction.
57 F.3d 1073
Gerard SCHAEFER, Plaintiff/Appellant,
Michael NEWTON and Avon Books, Defendants/Appellees.
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Submitted June 7, 1995.*
Decided June 8, 1995.
Before POSNER, Chief Judge, and PELL and ESCHBACH,
Gerard Schaefer, a Florida inmate convicted of two
murders, brought this action for defamation against an author, Michael
Newton, and his publisher, Avon Books (Avon). Jurisdiction arises from
the diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1332(a)(1).
The district court granted summary judgment for Newton and Avon
Books. Schaefer appeals. We affirm.
In 1973, Schaefer was arrested for aggravated assault after two women
who he had abducted and tied to a tree in a remote section of Florida
escaped and contacted the police. Near the site where the women were
held, police found a grave containing two bodies, later identified as
Susan Carole Place and Georgia Jessup. Schaefer was convicted of
murdering both women and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Police
investigators found evidence in Schaefer's mother's home that made
Schaefer a suspect in other murders. The evidence included jewelry,
women's clothing, human teeth, a passport, and manuscripts which
detailed ritualistic murders. (App. at 53). The police investigation
resulted in several newspaper and magazine articles written about
Schaefer, concerning police suspicion of Schaefer in other murders.
Jayne Ellison, 6 Dead; 28 May Be: A Trail of Butchered Girls, Palm
Beach Post-Times, May 13, 1973, at 1 (reporting Schaefer to be a
suspect in a series of murders in South Florida, Virginia, and Iowa).
(App. at 61).
Two Murders Linked to 26 Lost, Slain, Miami News, May 14, 1973, at 14A
(reporting Schaefer to be a suspect in the murders). (App. at 64).
Crime: Bluebeard on the Beach, Time, May 28, 1973, at 31 (reporting
that Schaefer was under investigation for at least 20 murders after
police found incriminating evidence in his mother's house). (App. at
Pat Plarski, Killer's Book: Fiction or 'How-To'?, Palm Beach Post, Aug.
14, 1989, at 1 (reporting on the publication of a book by Schaefer and
describing him as being a suspect in the deaths of several women in
Florida). (App. at 79-79).
Michael Newton is an author who wrote Hunting Humans: The Encyclopedia
of Serial Killers, (Hunting Humans), which was published by Avon. In
this book, there is an entry labelled: "Schaefer, Gerard John." The
entry reads as follows:
A homicidal ex-policeman from Oakland Park, Florida, dubbed the "Sex
Beast" by local newsmen, Schaefer was theoretically linked with the
murders of at least 20 persons after the jewelry, teeth, and clothing
of several victims were recovered from a trunk in the attic of his
mother's home. The public defender's office was unable to prevent
Schaefer's conviction and imprisonment on first-degree murder charges,
the killer took it in stride. When Schaefer's wife divorced him and
became engaged to his defense attorney, he gave the couple his
blessing, requesting that the same lawyer continue to handle his case
through forthcoming appeals.
Hunting Humans, 298 (R. 3 at 7). Schaefer objected to this entry and
brought suit for damages and injunctive relief, claiming "plaintiff
has never been linked to 20 murders; plaintiff is not a serial killer;
plaintiff should not be listed in an encyclopedia of modern serial
killers published by the defendants." (R. 3 at 2).
Newton and Avon moved for summary judgment, which the district court
granted. Schaefer now appeals.
A. Preliminary Matters
The parties made cross-motions for summary judgment. Schaefer
supported his motion with various documents, which Newton and Avon
moved to strike. The district court granted the motion and struck
Schaefer's evidence as unauthenticated. See Gustovich v. A.T. & T.
Communications, Inc., 972 F.2d 845, 849 (7th Cir.1992) (per curiam) ("When
acting on a motion for summary judgment the judge considers only
evidence that would be admissible at trial."). The district court's
decision is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Waldridge v. American
Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 923 (7th Cir.1994).
Schaefer concedes that his evidence is unauthenticated, but argues
that he should be held to a lower standard because he is an inmate
proceeding pro se. Although pro se pleadings are construed liberally,
there is no lower standard when it comes to rules of evidence and
procedure. Jones v. Phipps, 39 F.3d 158, 163 (7th Cir.1994); Friedel
v. City of Madison, 832 F.2d 965, 970 (7th Cir.1987) ("the
requirements of Rule 56(e) are set out in mandatory terms....").
Additionally, Newton and Avon complied with Lewis v. Faulkner, 689
F.2d 100, 102 (7th Cir.1982), and gave notice to Schaefer describing
their motion for summary judgment, the proper manner for Schaefer to
respond to the motion, and the effect of his failure to respond. (R.
39 at 1-3). Schaefer was aware of the procedures regarding motions for
summary judgment and he failed to comply with them. The district court
was correct in striking his evidence from the record.
We now turn to the merits of the summary judgment granted to Newton
and Avon on Schaefer's claim of defamation. A federal court sitting in
diversity must first apply the forum state's choice of law rules to
determine which state's substantive law governs the dispute. Healy Co.
v. Milwaukee Met. Sewerage Dist., 50 F.3d 476, 478 (7th Cir.1995) (citing
Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Elec. Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487 (1941)). In
Schaefer's case, the district court, sitting in the southern district
of Indiana, determined that the two possible sources of substantive
law are Indiana and Florida. Because it determined the defamation law
of Indiana and Florida to be the same, the district court applied the
law of the forum state, Indiana, and the parties do not dispute this
finding. See Jean v. Dugan, 20 F.3d 255, 260 (7th Cir.1995) ("This
court has held that before entangling itself in messy conflict of laws
a court ought to satisfy itself that there actually is a difference
between the relevant laws of the different states."). "Absent some
compelling reason of policy, this court will not disturb the district
judge's choice of law where neither party objected to that choice in
the district court." Vachet v. Central Newspapers, Inc., 816 F.2d 313,
316 n. 3 (7th Cir.1987) (citing International Adm'rs v. Life Ins. Co.,
753 F.2d 1373, 1376 (7th Cir.1985)). Accordingly, we apply the
substantive law of Indiana to the defamation dispute.
The district court's grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo.
Hurst-Roesche Engineers, Inc. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., No.
94-1605, slip op. at 9 (7th Cir. April 5, 1995).
"To maintain an action for defamation, a plaintiff must show a
communication with four elements: 1) defamatory imputation; 2) malice;
3) publication; and 4) damages." Schrader v. Eli Lilly & Co., 639 N.E.2d
258, 261 (Ind.1994). Defamatory communications are those which tend to
harm a person's reputation by lowering the person in the community's
estimation or deterring third persons from dealing or associating with
the person. Rambo v. Cohen, 587 N.E.2d 140, 145 (Ind.App.1992). A
communication is defamatory per se if it imputes, among other things,
criminal or sexual misconduct. Id.
Under Indiana law, the malice component "requires the private
individual who brings a libel action involving an event of general or
public interest to prove that the defamatory falsehood was published
with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it
was false." Aafco Heating & Air Cond. Co. v. Northwest Publs. Inc.,
162 Ind.App. 671, 679, 321 N.E.2d 580, 586 (1974). This is the same
standard of "malice" required for public figures to prosecute
defamation claims under New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254
Newton and Avon contend that they are entitled to summary judgment
because the statement about Schaefer is true. Indeed, "[t]ruth is a
complete defense to a claim of defamation." Associates Corp. v.
Smithley, 621 N.E.2d 1116, 1119 (Ind.App.1993). Because of the
requirement of actual malice, it would appear that the burden of
showing the falsity of the defamatory statement lies with Schaefer.
However, Indiana courts have said that "the defamer bears the burden
of proof on this issue of fact, since 'truth' is an affirmative
defense to a claim for libel." Elliott v. Roach, 409 N.E.2d 661, 681 (Ind.App.1980).
Although the burden of proof for the truth of a statement is in
question, see Restatement (Second) of Torts Sec. 613 cmt. j (1977) (New
York Times malice "has, as a practical matter, made it necessary for
the plaintiff to allege and prove the falsity of the communication,
and from a realistic standpoint, has placed the burden of proving
falsity on the plaintiff"), classifying the burden as plaintiff's or
defendant's does not affect the outcome in this case. Newton and Avon
have presented evidence that both rebuts Schaefer's claim of malice
and satisfies their burden of proving the truth of the statement.
Schaefer resents being labelled a serial killer who was theoretically
linked to twenty murders. However, it is undisputed that Schaefer was
convicted of two murders. It is also undisputed that it was widely
reported that Schaefer was under investigation for the murders, by
some accounts, of over thirty women. Additionally, in 1992, Schaefer
published a book entitled Killer Fiction, the introduction of which
reads: "There is no way to separate the fact that I have been publicly
accused of murdering 34 women and that at one time I was regarded as
the world's # 1 serial killer." (App. at 29).
Whether characterized as a failure of Schaefer to establish a prima
facie showing of actual malice or a sufficient showing by Newton and
Avon to establish the truth of the entry, the evidence shows that the
disputed entry contains a true statement: Schaefer murdered two women
and was linked with the murder of over twenty. Newton and Avon,
therefore, are entitled to summary judgment. The judgment of the
district court is AFFIRMED.
After preliminary examination of the briefs, the
court notified the parties that it had tentatively concluded that oral
argument would not be helpful to the court in this case. The notice
provided that any party might file a "Statement as to Need of Oral
Argument." See Fed.R.App.P. 34(a); Cir.R. 34(f). No such statement
having been filed, the appeal is submitted on the briefs and the
Schaefer is a citizen of Florida, Newton is a citizen of Indiana,
Avon Books is a citizen of a state other than Florida, and the amount
in controversy exceeds $50,000