It has been one year and one day since Former State Senator Nancy Schaefer and her husband Bruce were found shot to death in their Habersham County home. Now, Garland Favorito has written a report that follows-up the investigation by the GBI into the claimed “murder-suicide” causation of the Schaefers’ deaths.
NOTE: Normally, Garland Favorito covers issues of voting machines and elections in Georgia through his 501-c-3 organization called VoterGA. However, in this case, Garland knew Senator Schaefer personally. And, as he did last year, he has put together a report laying-out the GBI investigation (or, perhaps, lack thereof) into the deaths of the Shaefers.
Release Date: March 26, 2011
SCHAEFERS KILLED WITH MYSTERIOUS GUN, GBI DESTROYS EVIDENCE, CLOSES “SUICIDE” CASE
THE GBI INVESTIGATION
It has been exactly a year since former Georgia State Senator, Nancy Schaefer, and her husband Bruce, were found shot to death in their bedroom. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) completed its work in December and recently made the case file summary available under Georgia Open Records Request laws. The case file summary confirmed the GBIs original murder-suicide conclusion that Bruce Schaefer shot Nancy and then killed himself. The conclusion was based primarily on extensive suicide notes that contained specific instructions to the family and could have only been produced by Bruce or someone with first-hand knowledge of the family. There were also no visible signs of forced entry. The hand printed notes that were found in the bedroom indicated that financial problems were a motive. The investigation, signed by Special Agent Brian Whidby, also confirmed that Bruce, who was 74, had recently visited two funeral homes in the area. All of these findings were already reported or known within days of the Schaefer’s deaths on March 26, 2010.
THE MURDER WEAPON
The findings in the case file would be highly convincing except for one major problem never before reported. The Schaefers were not killed with the small caliber gun that the family knew they owned. They were killed with a higher caliber, untraceable weapon that no family member had ever seen before. The weapon was originally shipped to a dealer in a remote part of southern Florida in 1982 and the ownership records have since been destroyed, possibly as a result of a natural disaster. The case file was unable to establish how the Schaefers, who lived in Georgia during the 1980s, acquired the murder weapon. It also contains no explanation as to why Bruce would not use the gun he already owned to commit the crime, but instead acquire another gun that just happened to be untraceable.
THE AUTOPSY REPORT
The GBI autopsy report found that the wounds of Bruce Schaefer were consistent with a suicide finding but the report was unable to rule out the possibility that he was murdered. The autopsy report and initial investigative case summary did not find any difference in the times of death for the couple. They imply that that the times of death were the same, which is a virtual impossibility. The notes show that Bruce wrote them after shooting Nancy and it would have taken hours for him to write and assemble the material for the notes before he shot himself.
THE SUICIDE NOTES
The final investigative summary cites the extensive, detailed suicide notes found at the scene as the most overwhelming evidence of suicide. But the case file shows that the GBI performed no handwriting analysis to authenticate those printed notes as originating from Bruce Schaefer. The multi-page, extensive suicide notes are also strange in the sense that there is no mention of the 13 grandchildren who Bruce loved so much. There are also oddities in the financial information included in the notes.
THE ALLEGED FINANCIAL MOTIVE
The suicide notes contain a foreclosure letter and precise details for settlements involving over $25K of credit card debt, but they provide little or no information on the Schaefers’ assets and income. Although containing many other instructions there are no instructions on how to liquidate any retirement accounts, stock investments or uncollateralized property that the Schaefers owned. Only a couple of insurance policies are present but it is unclear what value, if any, that they would have in a murder-suicide. The Schaefers already had put their house on the market and showed virtually no concern about any pending foreclosure right up until the night before their death. They still had roughly $100,000 of equity in the home even after reducing the sale price. They were advised by one of their sons, who is in the real estate business, that it was unlikely they would lose the house.
Most Georgians are unaware that the metro Atlanta area has been nationally ranked as the largest center in the country for child sex trafficking. Most are also unaware that Sen. Schaefer was a national leader in the fight against related child abuse and perversion in government run, Child Protective Services (CPS). The GBI was repeatedly informed that Nancy was wrapping up a video documentary, a possible book and other supporting references on the subject. She told friends that this work would expose corruption in Georgia’s Department of Family and Child Services (DFACS) and that several high profile, powerful Georgia politicians would be implicated. These people would have the means and incentive to prevent her work from being produced. While the GBI documented case inquiries from the general public there is no documentation of the inquiries received from government officials.
The GBI collected little information about the work that Nancy Schaefer had done. They interviewed only one person who was involved in helping to produce the video documentary. They did not obtain a copy of the video or interview its producer, William Fain. They also did not attempt to retrieve the documentary from the producer even though the Schaefers had arranged funding for the video and the producer was not necessarily entitled to ownership rights.
The GBI was aware that Mrs. Schaefer had received threats and warnings as a result of her work. She had already begun taking security precautions. The information she collected was believed to be so sensitive that she could be targeted for professional assassination. Close friends still fear that someone befriended her and committed the crime. The GBI investigation did little to rule out that possibility.
A former federal investigator I contacted told me that a double killing with an untraceable gun should have automatically triggered a normal murder investigation that would have considered all possible scenarios. But, In spite of the threats, Mrs. Schaefer’s high profile work and the mysterious gun, the GBI made an immediate initial conclusion that the couple committed a murder-suicide. That severely limited the investigative scope of the case and caused many aspects to not be fully considered.
THE LIMITED SCOPE
The scope of the case file includes no forensics study of the interior of the house to determine if blood, fingerprints or other substances might indicate, or otherwise rule out, foul play. It does not explain what was analyzed to determine there were no visible signs of forced entry. It also does not identify any effort made to search the grounds behind the house. Those grounds are easily accessible from the unsecured sides of the subdivision even though the subdivision has a front gate with a checkpoint.
The case file cited no effort to question or rule out any of the individuals who checked in that front subdivision gate on the day the Schaefer’s bodies were found. It also cited no effort to identify the individuals who checked in on the evening before the early morning hours when the Schaefers likely died. In addition, there is no documentation of any substantive investigative work that took place from July to December of 2010 when the final Investigative Summary was written.
DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE
During the time from June to December of 2010 individuals, including myself, filed open records requests for reports but the requests were denied because the case was still open. When Special Agent Whidby wrote the Final Investigative Summary in December of 2010, t he GBI had destroyed all items that were seized or created at autopsy. They then completed closing the case in February of 2011 and made the file available.
THE OLD AND NEW UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
One year later, the GBI investigation has not only failed to answer the initial questions that many friends of the family had but it has generated new questions that still beg for answers. For example:
1. If Bruce wanted to kill his wife and commit suicide why would he buy another untraceable gun rather than use the one he already had?
2. Why would Bruce decide to kill himself and his wife because he received a foreclosure notice on a home that they had already decided to sell two months earlier?
3. Why would Bruce, who was so highly supportive of Nancy’s efforts for decades, including her CPS/DFCS work, decide to kill her just at the peak of one of her most important works?
4. If Bruce was under financial stress, why did he not show any signs of it up to and including the evening of the couple’s death?
5. If Bruce was under financial stress why wouldn’t he turn to any or all of his five grown children who loved him and would have wanted to help?
6. Why would Bruce consider the couple’s financial situation so severe when their assets still appeared to exceed or roughly their debt?
7. Why would the suicide notes have so much information on the couple’s debts but not contain any instructions on how to liquidate the couple’s assets?
8. If the couple was under such financial stress, why would Bruce jeopardize any chance of the family collecting life insurance benefits by committing suicide and killing his wife?
9. Why would Bruce decide to deprive both he and Nancy of seeing the grandchildren who they loved so dearly grow up?
10. Why would Bruce never mention the grandchildren he loved so dearly in the extensive suicide notes?
11. Why would Bruce knowingly take a drastic action that would devastate the children and grandchildren who loved him so much?
12. Why would Bruce commit such an act that was so against his faith and completely out of character for him according to those who know him best?
13. Why would the GBI be unwilling to properly investigate and rule out the possibility of a professional assassination given the circumstances and high profile nature of the case?
GBI spokesperson, John Bankhead, initially promised Fox 5 News “there will be a thorough investigation” given the high profile circumstances of the case. That thoroughness obviously never materialized. The Final Investigative Summary contains only one paragraph to summarize the findings of murder-suicide, relying on the suicide notes for that conclusion. There is no rationale in the summary to explain how the conclusion was reached, what other scenarios were considered or how other scenarios were ruled out. While the GBI may have come to the correct conclusion, the only thing consistent with a “thorough investigation” seems to be the amount of time that the case was left open.
The limited investigative scope is appalling considering the high profile circumstances surrounding the Schaefers’ deaths. Case file evidence mentioned in this report illustrates that the GBI was unwilling to investigate the case to the point where they could rule out professional assassination. They also destroyed all items seized or created at autopsy so now their actions can never be reviewed or questioned. Their conduct raises a legitimate question as to whether or not they could have been compromised or manipulated by officials implicated in former Nancy Schaefer’s documentary and materials. Their investigation may even become more questionable than the killings themselves.
PERMISSION TO REPRINT GRANTED
Regardless of how the couple may have died, former Senator Nancy Schaefer lived the last couple of years of her life dedicated to helping children and families who were victimized by the very government agencies that were supposed to be helping them.
Mrs. Schaefer had found during the last few years that:
– Georgia housed children in a foster home with a known pedophile who molested the children.
– Habersham County failed to remove six children from a home where they were being abused and tortured.
– Georgia turned two girls over to a California father who had a pornographic video business.
A report that she produced on these remarkable cases can be found at the fight CPS web site:
Nancy Schaefer was interviewed extensively by talk show host Alex Jones about corruption in Child Protection Services nationally. A multi-part series of her interview and an Eagle Forum presentation can be found on You Tube here:
More details on the video she was working on can be found on the Alex Jones Channel of You Tube at:
In addition, former Senator Schaefer led opposition to HB582 and SB304. These two bills, introduced by her fellow Republicans, would have likely increased child sex trafficking if passed during the 2009 or 2010 sessions. These bills would have made it legal for teenagers to participate in certain illicit acts. The bills would have effectively removed the legal authority that police have to pick up teenagers and get them into protective custody so that they can no longer be pimped for those acts.
PV Pop-Quiz: Who were the idiotic State Reps sponsoring HB 582 (analysis of HB 582 here by Sue Ella Deadwyler) in the 2009-2010 Legislative Session, and who were the idiotic State Senators sponsoring SB 304 (op-ed here on SB 304)? Inquiring minds should find out for themselves.