Gary Schara: Where is Lisa Ziegert’s Killer Now?

Image Credit: Forensic Files

NBC’s ‘The Music Box’ follows how Gary Schara brutally raped and murdered 24-year-old Lisa Ziegert in Agawam, Massachusetts, in April 1992. The episode shows how he was captured decades later following his confessional letters being handed over to the authorities by his erstwhile girlfriend. So who is Gary, and where is he now? Let’s find out.

Who is Gary Schara?

Gary E. Schara lived with his erstwhile wife, Joyce McDonald Schara, in Massachusetts in 1992. As per reports, when the brutal rape and murder of Lisa Marie Ziegert happened in April 1992, he was a new husband and the father of a 1-year-old boy. Public records request in 2017 revealed pages of Longmeadow police reports indicating Gary lived an ordinary life except for incidents of domestic strife in 1992 that culminated in a long custodial battle over his child.

The first report in the Longmeadow police files dealt with a quarrel the couple had on August 8, 1992. According to the records, Gary and Joyce had a major fight, with him deserting her midway and driving back home. When she returned, their fight continued, and the police arrived and had to put a stop. The records indicated that Schara won temporary custody of their son in November 1992, after an apparent split. His wife never contested the order.

In late January 1993, Joyce was granted a visit with their son as a non-custodial parent. She absconded with the boy in a cab and took a plane to Seattle, starting a seven-year custody battle. The dispute drew in local police, district attorneys, and the FBI. He remained in contact with police over the next seven years regarding his son and ex-wife. In one case, he accused her of cashing his income tax return. He also sought to enter his son into a national database for missing and endangered children.

However, police records indicate Joyce was never arrested in the matter. He and his parents moved to Agawam in 1999. The arrest warrant for McDonald Schara was canceled the same year after the custody battle was resolved in probate court. Lisa was 24 when she disappeared from Brittany’s Card Shoppe on Walnut Street Extension. Her body, sexually assaulted and stabbed, was found on April 19, 1992, three days after her disappearance.
For more than two decades, it seemed the crime would never be solved despite dogged efforts by investigators and a concerted push by Lisa’s family to keep the case alive. Then, the case burst into public consciousness in September 2017. According to investigators, Gary, 48, of West Springfield, crumbled under renewed pressure when asked by a Massachusetts state trooper for a DNA sample around September 13, 2017. He briefly disappeared, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni had said, attempted suicide, and left notes detailing the attack on Ziegert.

Where is Gary Schara Today?

Gary was arrested at Johnson Memorial Medical Center in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, on September 16, according to police records. His erstwhile Noelle DesLauriers arrived at the State Police Barracks in Westfield with his confessional letters. Massachusetts State Police Trooper Noah Packer said, “There were three separate letters. One of them was essentially a confession letter. Another letter was a last will and testament. He also left an apology letter for the Ziegert family.”

Gary had absconded and tried to end his life by suicide. He sought treatment after trying to end his life with a fistful of Motrin, investigators have said. He was arrested in the Johnson Memorial Hospital while being treated there. He appeared September 18 in Rockville Superior Court in Vernon, Connecticut, where he swiftly waived extradition to Massachusetts.

The investigators arrested him at the hospital and obtained search warrants for Gary and Noelle’s residence the following day. They took his toothbrush and other evidence to match the DNA evidence found on Lisa’s body back in 1992. He was indicted of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape on December 8, 2017.

Gary initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea on September 25, 2019, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on the murder charges. However, the rape and kidnapping charges were dropped because of the statute of limitations surrounding them. As per official court records, he is presently serving his sentence at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Norfolk.

Read More: Lisa Ziegert Murder: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?