Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Clara Schwartz: A Deadly Game


Clara Schwartz mugshot
Clara Schwartz mugshot

Clara Jane was arraigned on February 5, 2002, as her older brother and sister watched in grief and horror. In a quiet voice, she requested a court-appointed lawyer to defend her against the charge of first-degree murder. Her arrest was the culmination of a two-month investigation that included an analysis of coded e-mails and instant messages among the four friends regarding Clara's alleged domestic situation. (Clara had kept them in a file labeled "UW People," for Underworld, in her dorm room.) The investigation had also involved interviews with all four of them, and written statements from three.

As the details came out, it seemed that Clara had told the others that her father had tried to poison her, and she thought her life would be better if he were eliminated. When Clara wanted to talk about murder in these messages, she used the word, "tay," and she referred to her father as OG — "Old Guy." In other words, her premeditation was fairly elaborate, although she told reporters that she thought Hulbert was "just joking" when he said he would do it. Yet she also admitted that she had believed that he actually would, and in one message, as reported in AP, she said that "all I ask is that it not trace back to me."

In March 2002, a grand jury reconvened to consider the case. They indicted Clara on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation to commit murder. One of these latter charges focused on time periods from June to November and November to December, which involved two different people whose identities were made clear during her trial. Clara's attorneys, who insisted that it was not possible to enter into a conspiracy with someone who would be considered insane, were frustrated that the prosecutors had no unified theory about the incident, and said so to reporters. The Loudoun Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney, Owen D. Basham, hinted otherwise, but would not give a specific comment.

The other three defendants had been indicted as well on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Only Inglis was being considered for a deal, because she seemed the least involved and she was willing to testify against the others.

According to the Washington Post at the end of March, 2002, Clara had been searching for several months for someone to kill her father. She met Kyle Hulbert in October at a Renaissance festival in Crownsville, MD, and managed to convince him to do the "noble thing" for a "damsel in distress." They developed a close relationship (which he affirmed in his confession) that inspired him to feel protective of her, as a brother to a sister.

Clara sent Hulbert a check for $60 on the night before the murder, via overnight delivery. She apparently told detectives it was for Hulbert to be able to pay for gas to get to the farmhouse, gloves to prevent him from leaving fingerprints, a cap ("do-rag") to prevent him from shedding hair that might be found and link him to the scene, and rags to clean up any potential trace evidence. He was also to purchase a phone card so he could call her without the call being traced to his phone.


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