The murder of Michelle Saum Schofield in February 1987 is one of the most puzzling crimes ever brought to light, and its complexity extends far beyond the heinous crime itself. In fact, according to ABC’s ’20/20: Last Seen In Lakeland,’ her husband Leo Schofield has since been convicted, but there is evidence to suggest that someone else may have been involved. If you wish to understand more about the former, including his alleged involvement, legal consequences, and present position, we have the relevant information for you.
Who Is Leo Scofeild? Murderer?
In 1986, high school dropouts Leo and Michelle met for the first time and developed an instant connection that made it impossible for them to stay apart. They moved in together shortly thereafter, and their Southside Assembly of God Church reportedly paid for their entire wedding in an effort to help them “stop living in sin.” Six months into their (already troubled) marriage, Michelle was brutally murdered in one of the worst imaginable ways; she was stabbed 26 times.
The truth is that Leo (who reported Michelle missing) was soon suspected because to the reports of their neighbors, friends, and relatives describing a constantly violent relationship. At one occasion, he even went so far as to threaten his wife’s life, according to some witnesses, who reported multiple verbal assaults. Doubts multiplied when a neighbor claimed to have heard the couple arguing on that fateful night, and then claimed to have witnessed Leo leaving after placing a heavy object in his trunk.
The fact that the Schofield mobile home was purportedly identified as the crime scene despite the presence of significant blood and evidence at the location where Michelle was discovered was further detrimental to Leo’s case. While there were significant inconsistencies in the neighbor’s story, the 20 more character witnesses who testified to his aggressive inclinations made the prosecution’s case incontestably stronger. Leo was arrested and charged with murder in June 1988; he was found guilty after two hours of deliberation by a jury in 1989, when he was 21 years old. It is essential to remember that no tangible proof existed against him.
Read more: Who Killed Michelle Schofield? Was She Murdered?
Schofield and John Fairfax and Sons Limited participated in the Blue Angel defamation case in 1989. In a 1984 article for The Sydney Morning Herald, Schofield referred to a lobster dish as “…near to culinary crime.” He said that it had been “roasted until every drop of juice and joy had been successfully extracted, leaving a charred husk of a shell containing what may have been albino walrus meat.” Schofield and Fairfax were awarded A$100,000 in damages with interest when it was determined that they had defamed the Blue Angel restaurant.
After failing to win extra funding for the Hobart Baroque Event in 2015, Schofield attacked Tasmania in the Sydney press, labelling the island state’s politicians and inhabitants who had previously supported his music festival “dregs, bogans, and third-generation morons.” The remarks of Schofield were widely challenged and criticised by prominent Tasmanian and Australian artists and political leaders. Numerous arts commentators characterized Schofield’s remarks as highly offensive, petulant, unbecoming, and divisive. The renowned Tasmanian author Bradley Trevor Greive referred to Schofield’s views as “churlish, gauche, and unforgivably small,” and described them as “highly offensive, petulant, unbecoming, and divisive.” Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman issued a statement touting the state’s dedication to the arts and his government’s “support of great events and festivals.” Hodgman added, “Leo Schofield’s remarks were insulting, uninformed, and completely out of touch with what the vast majority of Tasmanians are saying.” Schofield later claimed to be using antidepressants and consuming large amounts of alcohol. In a post published on the website of the Tasmanian Times, Schofield expressed regret for his “ill-considered, intemperate, and inelegant statements,” for which he apologized unequivocally. Later, Schofield relocated the Baroque Festival to Brisbane, where, according to Luke Martin of the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania, who accused Schofield of “blatant untruths,” the festival program received the exact same amount of funding that prompted Schofield’s embarrassing public outburst against Tasmania. An informal Tasmanian pro-arts performance group known as “Leo’s Bogan Brigade” picketed the opening night of the 2016 Brisbane Baroque festival. They exploited the media attention focused on Schofield’s disparaging remarks as a platform to promote new and rising Tasmanian artists.
Where is Leo Schofield Now?
Leo’s assertions of innocence have never wavered, despite the fact that he was sentenced to life in prison upon conviction and has spent the past three decades in a state facility. This is obvious from his numerous appeal petitions over the years, especially after Jeremy Lynn Scott’s fingerprints were linked to the crime and he reportedly confessed (after recanting). Leo told ABC’s ’20/20′ in 2022, “Innocent had no part in it, no plan in it, didn’t know it was occurring, didn’t know it was going to happen, and didn’t want it to happen.” “I am this.”
Although the former wannabe band member admitted to slapping his wife Michelle twice on the courtroom benches, he claimed he was not physically violent during the incident. “Physical assault is one form of abuse, but I am also guilty of emotional abuse,” Leo said. “I did a lotta yelling… I was willing to hit a wall and be quite dramatic.”
Leo Robert Schofield Jr., age 57, is now detained at the Hardee Correctional Institution in Bowling Green, Florida, which has a mixed security level. In 2023, he will be eligible for parole, but Leo, his second wife Crissie Carter, their daughter Ashley, and The Innocence Project of Florida continue to work tirelessly for his release. They seek to cleanse his name and deliver Michelle what they believe to be justice.
- Appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2000 for contribution to the arts, specifically the Sydney Festival
- the Melbourne Festival, as a fundraiser and administrator, as well as to environmental and heritage conservation
- The Australian Government Centenary Medal was given in 2001 for exceptional service to the Australian arts, culture, heritage, and culinary industries
- 2002 awarded a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts and des Lettres by the French Government
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