Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Team Killers, Part Three

Judas Does Not Play Well With Others

Charles Schmid Jr. (Gilmore)
Charles Schmid Jr.
(Gilmore)

When Charles Schmid, 23, started killing high school girls in Tucson, Arizona, in 1964, he got two people to go along with him. Self-conscious about his short stature, he strutted around in boots stuffed with newspapers and tin cans. He also wore make-up and tried to look like Elvis Presley. People viewed him as an eccentric character, but girls were easily enamored of him.

On the night of May 15, he persuaded John Saunders and Mary Rae French to go with him while he raped and killed Alleen Rowe in the desert. He buried her there in the sand and even bragged about it afterward, but no one reported it.

The following summer, Schmid strangled two girls and buried them out in the desert as well. Having gotten away with it once, he figured he was immune, so he took his buddy Richard Bruns out to see what he had done. This was Schmid's way of getting compliance while bragging about what he'd done. If someone saw the body and did nothing about it, he was part of the team.

But Richard was distressed by what he had seen and finally went to the police and took them to where the girls' skeletal remains still lay buried in the sand. A shoe-clad foot sticking out of the sand marking the spot.

Schmid was arrested that November, shortly after his marriage to a 15-year-old girl. Then Saunders and French were arrested, but they turned state's evidence against Schmid, sealing his fate. He was sentenced to die, but he died instead in prison. For their part in the first murder, Saunders got life and French four to five years.

This is a good case of a psychopath believing too well in his own powers of persuasion, to the point where his discernment fails him. Many a killer has been undermined by someone he or she viewed as an accomplice, who in the end had other plans. Those teams that appear to succeed best are often glued together by common sexual appetites, clandestine activities or fetishes. We've seen some examples among male/male and male/female teams. Now let's look at a few exclusively female team killers.

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