Wrongfully Imprisoned for 29 Years: The Leo Schofield Story

Photo by Tampa Bay Times, DANIEL WALLACE

Photo Courtesy of Tampa Bay Times

“Pick me up, and we’ll get something to eat.”

A phrase that many couples will recognize. A sign of normalcy and familiarity. How many times had Leo Schofield uttered them before? How many times had the simple plan worked out just fine? Many people reading this can imagine what normally transpires after this all too well: Chinese takeout, a quick burger, or picking up a Pizza and heading home to watch TV. Normal.

When Leo Schofield said these words to his wife, Michelle, that is what he expected. He didn’t realize that those would be some of the last words he spoke to her and that, what should have been a standard Tuesday evening, would be the beginning of a nightmare.

On February 24th, 1987 at 9:45 PM, Leo was at band practice at his friend Buddy Anderson’s house. When Michelle called him there, 90 minutes after her shift at Tom’s Restaurant, a local burger joint, he told her to pick him up at his friend Vince Rahner’s house down the street.

He walked to Vince’s house and stayed there, waiting for Michelle. When the clock struck midnight, Leo, worried about his wife, called his father. Leo Schofield, Sr. picked his son up and together the two retraced the route that Michelle would have taken. They checked Leo and Michelle’s trailer, but not seeing her vehicle, didn’t enter the trailer and kept searching. After driving around for some time, Leo called the surrounding hospitals, the police department and the sheriff’s department, hoping for some sign of Michelle. Nothing.