In the weeks before her husband’s shooting death at a remote North Hall park, Stacey Schoeck paid a co-worker $10,000, and a suspicious trail of phone calls between the co-worker, Schoeck and a third person would lead to all three being charged in a murder for hire plot, according to court records.
The case compiled by Hall County Sheriff’s investigators in the Valentine’s Day murder of 45-year-old Richard Schoeck of Snellville is laid out in detail in affidavits filed in the magistrate courts of Gwinnett and Cobb counties, where searches were conducted at the homes of Stacey Schoeck, Lynitra Ross and Reginald Coleman when they were arrested May 25.
Coleman is charged as the triggerman in the murder, according to an indictment returned by a Hall County grand jury earlier this month. Ross, who was supervised by Stacey Schoeck at a DeKalb County spinal clinic, is believed by authorities to have acted as an intermediary between Stacey Schoeck and the alleged hitman, who ran a personal training service under the name “Mr. Results.”
Authorities believe the motive for the murder was financial. After Richard Schoeck’s death, his wife had pending life insurance claims totaling $560,000, according to court filings.
Detectives subpoenaed cell phone records and financial documents to build a circumstantial case against the three suspects, according to court records. Meanwhile, Stacey Schoeck, 38, admitted in an interview with detectives to having an extramarital affair with a co-worker, but he was cleared of involvement in the killing by an alibi, an investigator said in a search warrant application affidavit.
In a sworn affidavit submitted in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Hall County Sheriff’s Capt. Woodrow Tripp said Stacey Schoeck called 911 at 9:32 p.m. on Feb. 14 to report finding her husband dead on the ground at Belton Bridge Park near Lula. Richard Schoeck was lying beside his truck with three gunshot wounds to the midsection and two gunshot wounds to the face from a 9 mm handgun.
Schoeck told authorities she and her husband were meeting at the park to exchange Valentine’s Day cards after they left her grandparents’ home in White County. Her husband left the house to get gas and head to the park at 8:15 p.m., and she left at 9:15 p.m, she told investigators.
Crime scene investigators determined from tire tread impressions left at the scene that a suspect may have driven a car with Goodyear Integrity tires, Tripp said in the affidavit.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for Stacey Schoeck’s cell phone and downloaded all of its data. Detectives then analyzed all the calls made from the cell phone tower that services the area of Belton Bridge Park between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Feb. 14.
Two numbers in Stacey Schoeck’s phone, those for Ross and Coleman, were matched to a cell conversation that came from the cell phone tower at 8:40 p.m. The call was made by Coleman to Ross from near the crime scene, according to the affidavit. A second call from Coleman to Ross was made 17 minutes later from a cell phone tower in Flowery Branch, heading south from the crime scene and toward where Coleman lived in Austell, according to the affidavit.
Tripp said cell phone records showed that earlier that night, Coleman called Ross, then Ross called Stacey Schoeck, then Ross called Coleman back.
At 9 p.m., three minutes after Ross received her final phone call of the night from Coleman and about 15 minutes before Stacey Schoeck left her parents house, Ross sent a text message to Stacey Schoeck that read: “Don’t forget I’m coming in late tomorrow, forgot to remind you. Happy Valentine’s day,” according to the detective’s affidavit.
Tripp noted in the affidavit that of the 19,000 phone contacts made by Coleman between Jan. 1 and March 15, only one came from the tower near the crime scene, and only one came from the tower in Flowery Branch. Both were on the night of the murder.
Detectives learned from Stacey Schoeck’s grandparents that she had their car, a 2009 Chevrolet Impala, for several weeks prior to the murder and had tried to sell it. Investigators later determined Lynitra Ross had the car in the days before and after the murder, Tripp said in the affidavit.
The car was later purchased by a relative of the man with whom Stacey Schoeck had an affair, according to investigators. When investigators located the Impala, it had Goodyear Integrity tires that matched the tire impressions left at the murder scene.
Subpoenas of e-mails and bank records revealed that Stacey Schoeck had $10,000 transferred to Ross in two payments prior to the killing. Ross then wrote several personal checks made out to cash totaling $11,032, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit noted that there were pending life insurance policies on Richard Schoeck totalling $560,000, including one policy that was obtained in November but which would not become effective until Feb 1, two weeks before the murder.
During a May 25 search at Stacey Schoeck’s Snellville home, investigators seized computers and other electronic equipment, financial documents and a diary, court documents show.
At a search of Coleman’s home, detectives seized a cell phone, bank card, various papers and pill bottles containing prescription painkillers.
At Ross’ home, investigators seized three dozen 9 mm bullets stored in a wicker basket and shoe box and a pawn shop receipt for a 9 mm pistol.
Coleman’s attorney, L. David Wolfe, said Tuesday that he had not seen the search warrant application affidavit and had limited information on the case against his client. Once a grand jury indicted Coleman, he was no longer entitled to have a court hearing on whether there was probable cause for the arrest.
“I would like to have had the hearing to determine what exactly the evidence was that the state says implicates Mr. Coleman,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe said once an arraignment date is set in superior court, “I am confident I’ll have a better understanding of what path the district attorney intends to take, and whether they are going to file a notice of aggravation in punishment.”
District Attorney Lee Darragh has the option of seeking life without parole or the death penalty in the case.
The attorneys for Schoeck and Ross did not immediately return phone messages left by The Times seeking comment Tuesday.
All three suspects remain jailed without bond.