The 1987 disappearance and death of 18-year-old Michelle Saum Schofield is a case that has honestly baffled the entire nation for decades owing to the sheer twists at every step of the way. After all, as chronicled in ’20/20: Last Seen In Lakeland,’ although her husband Leo Schofield has since been convicted of her murder, there’s a possibility somebody else might be responsible. But for now, if you wish to learn more about the individual that first discovered the newly married woman’s remains — her father-in-law, Leo Schofield Sr. — we’ve got the details for you.
Who is Leo Schofield Sr.?
While the particulars of Leo Sr.’s personal and professional experiences before the incident are unclear, we do know the Schofields had moved to Florida from Massachusetts in the early 1980s. They appeared to be an almost idyllic big, happy family, yet things changed once his namesake’s wife of a little over six months suddenly disappeared on the evening of February 24, 1987. That’s because despite Leo Sr.’s son being the one to have contacted him and the police shortly after midnight to have an immediate search begin for her, he was also the one soon convicted.
As for Leo Sr.’s role, he dropped everything to drive around town with his boy, looking for Michelle no matter the time, before helping him make a few calls to nearby hospitals and her parents. His wife took over a couple of hours later, just for him to rejoin the search the following morning and reportedly continue helping out, leading to the recovery of Michelle’s bloodied remains on the 27th. Leo Sr. testified during his son’s 1989 trial that an “inner force” or God had urged him directly to the canal along State Road 33, where he’d found his daughter-in-law beneath a piece of plywood.
Where is Leo Schofield Sr. Now?
From what we can tell, the Schofields relocated to Idaho for good around the mid-to-late 1990s to restart their lives to the best of their abilities, only for legal trouble to soon follow. This time, though, it was owing to Leo Robert Schofield Sr. — he was arrested in November 2010 for sexually abusing a family member under 16 sometime between 2006 and 2009. The then Bellevue resident subsequently entered into an Alford plea (in summer 2011), which means he didn’t admit guilt yet conceded there was enough evidence to warrant a conviction upon trial.
The charge against Leo Sr. carried a penalty of up to 25 years, yet his plea enabled him to get a reduced sentence of 12 years, with credit for time already served in county jail. He was identified as a repeat offender who deserved prison time as he was at “high risk” of committing such an egregious crime again and had a “long history of denial.” It came to light that Leo Sr. had been convicted of sex acts against a 9-year-old in Rhode Island in 1987 and was wanted for a similar charge in Massachusetts — the latter state did not request extradition.
“I know what I did, and I know what I didn’t do,” Leo Sr. told the court during his sentencing hearing. “I didn’t do that, but somehow I’m accepting guilt for it.” Therefore, today, at 80, the convicted felon is incarcerated at the medium-security Idaho State Correctional Institution in Boise. It’s imperative to note he will be released following his sentence satisfaction date of October 30, 2022.