Thomas Schiro Facing New Rape Charges
(Editor's note: Because of the nature of the crime, we will only identify the woman who claims to be a victim of Thomas Schiro by her first name.)
New Media Producer: Kerry Corum
UPDATE: Convicted killer and rapist Thomas Schiro appeared in Vanderburgh Circuit Court Monday, for the first time in nearly 25 years.
Schiro is convicted of the rape and murder of Laura Luebbehusen in 1981. At the time, police believed he was responsible for a string of other rapes, but because he was sentenced to death in the Luebbehusen case, they didn't pursue the others.
Later, that sentence was overturned, and the police began re-investigating those cold cases. Newswatch's Stefanie Silvey began investigating earlier this year, and was able to help police identify possible witnesses and victims from the old cases.He's now charged with two counts of rape and two counts of criminal deviate conduct. If convicted of these latest crimes, Schiro could face a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison, a minimum of 20. If not, he could be released as early as 2007.
UPDATE: Here's an update to a story Newswatch broke back in February. Convicted murderer Thomas Schiro is scheduled to appear in Vanderburgh Superior Court Monday morning, to face new charges.
Schiro was brought to the Vanderburgh County jail Friday night. He had been serving time in a Pendelton, Indiana prison for the rape and murder of Laura Luebbehusen in 1981. Schiro had been on death row for that crime, but the sentence was overturned and he was scheduled to be a free man in less than two years. But now, Schiro is charged with two counts of rape and two counts of criminal deviate conduct from crimes over two-decades ago. Stephanie Silvey recently spoke with one of the alleged victims, Jean. "My daughter and myself were asleep in bed, and the next thing I know someone is leaning beside my bed and woke me up. He put something over my face and said "Don't look at me. DON'T look at me."
Along with the two rape cases, Evansville Police say they'll also be looking at other unsolved crimes Schiro may have committed.
Reporter: Stefanie Silvey
A former death row inmate will be returning to Evansville to face new charges. Thomas Schiro was sentenced to death for the murder and rape of Laura Luebbehusen in 1981.
Schiro was also suspected in a series of other crimes. But when he got the death penalty for that murder, those other crimes were not pursued.
But then Schiro's death sentence was overturned. And Evansville police learned he could get out within a few years. And that's when the police began investigating Schiro again. Newswatch's Stefanie Silvey first broke the story, and with her reports helped police track down victims and key witnesses in cases that were nearly thirty years old.
It was a night she would never forget. Jean was home alone with her ten-year-old daughter when her life changed forever one early morning. "My daughter and myself were asleep in bed, and the next thing I know someone is leaning beside my bed and woke me up. He put something over my face and said, 'don't look at me, don't look at me.'"
Worried for her daughter's safety, Jean didn't fight back. "And then he made me go into the living room, and that's where he raped me....He told my daughter at ten-years-old that if she didn't quit, begging him not to hurt me, that he was going to kill me."
Police say Thomas Schiro kept his promise and returned to the house...only Jean and her daughter had moved out. A new victim moved in. Evansville Police Chief Brad Hill says, "He sexually assaulted this victim numerous times, and again while the child was in bed with her."
Both women came forward to police in 1981 after recognizing Schiro during the Luebbehusen trial. Jean says, "I said that's the man right there and so did my daughter, she saw his full face."
Former Evansville Police Department detective Don Erk says, "He did a number of rapes in front of small children, he apparently enjoyed that type of thing. He also enjoyed inflicting a lot of pain on a lot of his victims."
But those rapes were never brought to trial. Erk says, "Due to the fact that we had a death penalty verdict, and the judge ruled death, I didn't feel compelled to do a lot with the rapes at that time."
But the prosecutor's office and the Evansville police are attempting to do something about it now. Hill says, "The Evansville Police Department's detective office was requested by prosecutor Stan Levco to assist his office in looking into two rape cases where Thomas Schiro was the suspect. Sgt. Rick Reed and detective Greg Fleck are enroute at this time to Pendleton to serve these arrest warrants."
The charges come as both a relief and a burden for Jean,who is now 70. It brings back vivid thoughts and memories. "How close I came to being murdered, how close I came to maybe even my daughter being murdered and that's not a good feeling at all."
Schiro's charged with two counts of criminal deviate conduct and two counts of rape. And ironically, Thomas Schiro himself may be his downfall in the upcoming trial. In the 1981 murder trial, he wrote a biography of sorts, describing intimate details of numerous crimes he claimed to have committed. His own defense attorney entered it into evidence in an attempt to show he was insane.