“I don’t know what Leo is guilty of. Whatever the State said he did in other cases, I don’t know, but I do know he didn’t murder his wife.” – Jeremy Scott
Jeremy Scott is a man with a violent past. With seven prior felony convictions, ranging from arson to battery and armed robbery, Scott is currently serving a life sentence for bludgeoning a man over the head with a bottle and strangling him to death with a telephone cord in 1988. Prior to his conviction for the 1988 murder, in 1985, Scott was tried as a juvenile and acquitted of another violent murder.
Leo Schofield is also serving a life sentence. In 1989, he was convicted of murdering his wife Michelle Schofield in 1987. He has continued to maintained his innocence, despite being offered a shorter sentence for a guilty plea.
On a February Evening in 1987, Michelle Schofield went missing after clocking out at the burger joint that she worked at. A few days later, her body was found in a canal, 7 miles from her abandoned vehicle. She had been stabbed 26 times.
The conviction came despite a startling lack of evidence, and was based largely on the testimony of a neighborhood gossip that had a record of mental issues. Over the last 28 years, Schofield has been in and out of appeal hearings making the case for his freedom.
The contrast between Schofield and Scott are striking.
During his incarceration, Schofield has occupied his time with a full schedule of extracurricular activities.
He is the current leader of a music ministry; the lead facilitator in a number of small group programs focused on fatherhood and re-entry; the leader of a messianic community with over 150 inmate members; and will graduate in December with a Bachelor in Arts degree from New Orleans Baptist theological seminary.
Those are just his current activities. Since 1989, the list of clubs and ministries Schofield has been involved in is extensive: Toastmasters, Warden’s Advisory Committee, Kairos, HIV education and counseling, welding certification, and the list goes on.
By comparison, Jeremy Scott has a more colorful list of accomplishments while incarcerated. His most recent run-in with the law occurred in March of 2017 when he flashed a circuit judge and took a swing at a bailiff. Before that, destroying a sprinkler with a food tray, possession of weapons, possession of stimulants, and fighting. One incident, in 2001, involved Scott spitting in a correction officer’s face and saying, “I’m going to kill your f**k ass.”
Apart from serving life sentences, what could these two men have in common?
In 2004, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found that a previously unidentified set of fingerprints that were found in Michelle Schofield’s vehicle belonged to Jeremy Scott.
It seemed like Leo had finally caught a break. He and his wife Crissie (whom he had met while volunteering as a teaching aide in a life skills course for inmates) pursued a hearing based on this new evidence.
Jeremy Scott took the stand and stated that his fingerprints were in the vehicle because he was trying to steal the car’s stereo system. The motion for a new trial was denied, again. However, this would not be the last time these two very different men crossed paths.
In September of 2016, as reported by the USA Herald, Andrew Crawford (Leo’s attorney) filed a motion to present new evidence. In a phone call, witnessed and sworn to by Sean Costis (another attorney unrelated to the case), Jeremy Scott confessed to Michelle Schofield’s murder.
When asked to comment on this new information, Polk State Attorney Jerry Hill stated that the confession was “legally insufficient” without a recording or sworn statement.
A hearing was granted, and on October 12 and 13th, Leo and Jeremy would once again see each other in a court room.
On October 4, 2017, the week before the evidentiary hearing, Jeremy Scott told private investigator Patrick McKenna in a recorded statement that he killed Michelle Schofield.
The USA Herald has obtained that statement from Jeremy Scott. In it, he details the manner and method of the grisly murder, saying that he would be willing to “take a polygraph.”
In the last moments of Michelle’s life, Jeremy Scott said that she offered him a ride. He directed her to a popular make-out spot by the canal. According to Scott, a large hunting knife fell out of his pocket and Michelle – frightened by the knife – began striking him. Scott, admitting that he had been “drinking, popping pills all night,” says, “and next thing I know I lost it, you know, and next I know it I done stabbed her.”
“I panicked when she started hitting on [striking] me and the knife fell out of my jacket. It wasn’t meant for nobody. I live alone on the streets. I’ve been holding this confession for a long time. I don’t know what Leo is guilty of. Whatever the State said he did in other cases I don’t know but I do know he didn’t murder his wife.” – Jeremy Scott
You can listen to the haunting confession here:
On October 12, 2017, Jeremy Scott took the stand. Scott was agitated the day he testified and displayed frustration that he was being asked to repeat statements he made in the recording. And repeat them he did, as Assistant State Attorney Victoria J. Avalon grilled Scott.
Avalon began her long, grueling line of questioning by goading Scott, asking him, “…you’re going to die in prison, whatever the parole commission does, aren’t you?”
“You’re going to die behind chain link” – VIctoria J. Avalon
Avalon then proceeded to go over this point, showing Scott multiple documents from his murder trial, and then asking him again, “…you’re still never getting out?” “And you know that right?”, and then “You’re going to die behind chain link, right?”