Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gerard Schaefer


Gerard Schaefer mugshot
Gerard Schaefer

Teresa Schaefer made her one and only prison visit on November 17, 1973, to serve Gerard with divorce papers. Outside the walls, reporters trumpeted that lawyer Elton Schwarz, age 45, was "dating" Schaefer's 21-year-old wife. He also handled Teresa's divorce and they were married on November 30 with Schwarz announcing that his client had suggested the arrangement. Inmate Schaefer, undismayed, maintained correspondence with Schwarz for several years afterward, waiting nearly a decade to charge the attorney with legal malpractice. 

Meanwhile, Schaefer was busy exposing another conspiracy, claiming that he had been framed by drug-dealing lawmen and Martin County prosecutors. (This despite his statements to psychiatrists that he enjoyed working for Sheriff Crowder "because everybody was honest.") In Schaefer's new scenario, he was framed for killing "two narcotics informants" because he refused to play ball with powerful drug lords. Ironically, one of Robert Stone's aides was convicted of drug trafficking in the 1980s, but no evidence linked the case to Schaefer's crimes.

Schaefer would ultimately file 19 appeals, each of which was dismissed. In 1987 a weary judge declared, "There has to be an end, a conclusion to litigation and to the abuse of the judicial process. The defendant should realize, once and for all, the die is cast, the mold is made, the loaf is baked. Therefore the judgment is final and forever." They were strong words, buttressed by a state parole board ruling that Schaefer was ineligible for release before February 2017, but still the hopeless lawsuits continued, at public expense.

Schaefer found other ways to amuse himself, too. In 1979 he declared himself "married" to a Filipina "picture bride." The young woman appeared in July 1980 and moved in with Schaefer's father. A marriage license materialized, sans ceremony, and was accepted by authorities at Avon Park's minimum-security prison. Several "contact visits" were permitted, before Schaefer's "wife" got her green card in 1985 and dropped him like the proverbial hot potato.

A few weeks later, in September 1985, Schaefer was accused of plotting to escape from Avon Park and murder a "hit list" of victims including his ex-wife, Elton Schwarz, Robert Stone and Judge Trowbridge. State police "confirmed" the plot, and Schaefer was packed off to maximum security at Starke, home of Florida's death row.

Despite being closely watched, Schaefer still managed to run a mail-fraud operation from his cell, collaborating with cohorts outside to post ads in sex magazines, soliciting money from various kinky "tricks." To that end, Schaefer adopted various pseudonyms, always female. He became "Mistress Felice," a dominatrix; prostitute "Jessica Zurriaga"; stern "Matron Miller"; a husband-killer on death row; and so on. Some of his "slaves" paid cash for the privilege of washing "Mistress Felice's" soiled panties (delivered by mail, for a price). Schaefer also enjoyed writing to inmates of other prisons, posing as the great love of their lives, laughing behind their backs.

When not scamming "freaks," Schaefer worked as a jailhouse lawyer—with a twist. While writing briefs for fellow cons, he milked his "clients" for information on their cases, then sold them out to authorities. One such inmate, awaiting trial for murder, told Schaefer where his victim's body could be found and Schaefer relayed the directions to police, landing his client on death row. It was a deadly game, perhaps an extension of his childhood death wish, and he played it recklessly, as if he were invulnerable.

In 1986, collaborating with police from North Miami, Schaefer adopted the guise of "Dee Dee Kelly," a 14-year-old prostitute who offered nude photos to pedophiles. Responses to his ads were collected by U.S. Postal inspectors, but none of Schaefer's correspondents were prosecuted. Instead, authorities discovered he was working with another inmate, Mervyn Cross, to run a child pornography network from prison. Cross paid Schaefer's father a monthly stipend for use of his telephone line, to communicate with Filipino colleagues. Prosecutors convicted Cross, adding time to his sentence at Starke, but no charges were filed against the Schaefers.

Ted Bundy (AP)
Ted Bundy (AP)

Even as the "Dee Dee" sting collapsed, Schaefer had his first encounter with condemned killer Ted Bundy. According to Schaefer, "Bundy was always 100% respectful of me. I treated him as a supplicant, while others were hanging on his every word." Bundy allegedly confessed that he had been inspired by Schaefer's case to kill two victims on a single day in 1974. With Bundy, Schaefer debated such fine points of murder as "the maggot problem" and techniques of cleaning upholstery after dying victims urinated in their cars. 

Ottis Toole, police photo
Ottis Toole, police

Another sometime confidante of Schaefer was self-described cannibal Ottis Toole. Sentenced to life for six murders, Toole was suspected of many more, most notably the 1981 kidnap-slaying of young Adam Walsh. By 1988, when he met Schaefer, Toole had several times confessed to Walsh's murder, always recanting his statements when detectives asked for proof. Schaefer wrote to Adam's father—John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted"—posing as Toole and demanding $50,000 for Adam's remains, "so you can get them buried all decent and Christian." Walsh ignored the offer, and Toole soon soured on Schaefer's mercenary attentions. Aside from the sadistic pleasure of tormenting Adam's parents, Schaefer gained nothing from the episode except a new addendum to his reputation as a snitch.

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