Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Clara Schwartz: A Deadly Game

The Vampire

Hulbert had a history of mental disorders, including a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar disorder. His family had found him too difficult to handle, so he had been in several psychiatric institutions. It also turned out that he was deeply involved in roleplaying games that involved vampire imagery. While such games do not cause someone to become violent, and the majority of participants in the Live Action Role Playing groups (LARP) are just in it for fun and creative outlets, LARPs can attract mentally unstable people, who find encouragement for their delusions within them. Hulbert apparently did. He also had a fascination with medieval wizardry and weaponry, and eventually offered a rather chilling seven-page confession.

Sondra London included this case and his confession in her discussion of dissociation in True Vampires. She indicates that when a killer claims to have become someone else (as Hulbert vaguely suggested), he may be acknowledging a "criminal alter" that can take over a host body and get him to commit crimes. She went on to talk about the Hulbert/Schwartz incident, adding multiple personality disorder (now called dissociative identity disorder) to his psychiatric portfolio, although no professional had diagnosed him with the disorder. (Inglis mentioned this in her confession, so it could be the source of London 's ideas.) London also said that Clara had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and the condition had gone untreated, although this is probably untrue. That, too, was taken from Inglis' statement, and her knowledge was based only on things that Clara had said. No record of such a diagnosis was produced for court.

At any rate, in the confession taken in December, Kyle Hulbert told a magistrate that he alone was responsible for the killing. It was not premeditated, and Inglis and Pfohl did not know about it before it occurred. After Schwartz was dead, he said, he had called Clara to tell her that he had "done the job." He believed that Schwartz had been trying to poison his daughter with various chemicals that he placed into her food. Hulbert said that Clara once had handed over some cooked pork to him and insisted that her father had poisoned it. Hulbert had taken a bite and spit it back out. "I could tell," he wrote, "it had been tampered with, both by taste and by smell." He indicated that Clara had said that her father had cooked it separately from the other food.

Kathy Inglis
Kathy Inglis

Hulbert had met the man three times on prior occasions and had felt Schwartz's animosity toward him. Then, when Clara told him about an impending family trip to the Virgin Island, Hulbert believed that her father would attempt to kill her there. According to Hulbert, he had to do something to stop the man, especially as his visions of what Mr. Schwartz would do to Clara grew overwhelming. He claimed to have once seen Schwartz yell at his daughter and make her cry, and he indicated that "I could not bear the sight of that."

One newspaper story stated that Hulbert claimed to be a vampire, but that he heard the voices of entities named Sabba, Nicodemus, and Ordog instructing him to kill only for a "just cause." Thus, saving Clara became his driving purpose. He had seen Schwartz actually serve a pork chop and lemons to her on a prior visit, so those had become symbols to him of the way the man was poisoning her. Hulbert also indicated that he planned to say that demons had told him to do the killing. That way, Clara would be spared, should the plan be discovered.

So on December 8, Hulbert knocked on the door to the Schwartz home. In his confession, he described exactly what had taken place. Robert Schwartz answered the door and Hulbert asked if Clara was there. When told she wasn't, he asked if he could get her number. Schwartz invited him in. Hulbert used the bathroom and then followed the 57-year-old to the dining room and confronted him. Hulbert accused him of abusing his daughter and he believed he saw guilt in the man's eyes that amounted to a confession. The man had smiled, he said, and then had "backhanded" him, which cut him over the left eye. That had triggered the attack. Hulbert said that he did not remember carving an "X" on Schwartz, and investigators concluded that it was probably an incidental slash mark rather than something ritualistic.

But Hulbert insisted that if he had not seen the clear evidence of the man's guilt on his face, he would have allowed Schwartz to live. Using the sword to slash and stab, he brought Schwartz to his knees, although the dying man continued to try to defend himself. "Somewhere in the back of my mind, someone laughed at a fool who would grab an attacker's blade," Hulbert said. Hulbert stabbed Schwartz and felt his grip loosen: "I told him to back off and let me pass." He claims that Schwartz just grinned at him. Schwartz came at him again and he got some of the man's blood in his mouth. "It drove me into a frenzy," he said. He just kept stabbing and stabbing the man in the back. Hulbert then described Schwartz's last moments, saying that Schwartz had looked up at Hulbert and asked, "What did I ever do to you?" With that, Hulbert had delivered the final blow, killing him.

"When I returned to the state of mindfulness and sanity," Hulbert wrote, "I was drawing the sword from his back." He rinsed the weapon off, turned off most of the lights in the home, and went to find his friends. One of his voices instructed him to leave quickly, he wrote, because the victim's soul had already departed. Hulbert closed his confession with the belief that he had saved Clara and "whatever happens to us, we will survive." Then he had signed it with "Demon" and offered an apology to the Schwartz family, asking their forgiveness.

When attorneys were assigned, they told the press that whatever Hulbert may have said was unreliable, due to his mental illness. Hulbert's father echoed that, insisting that Kyle had viewed the incident as part of the game. He apparently had stopped taking his medication due to money problems just a few days before the murder.