Mel Ignatow was vain. When he killed Brenda, Ignatow was 50, 14 years older than she was, and he was showing his age. His hair was thinning and his large mustache was starting to look dated. To boost his vanity he often boasted of his travels and his former import-export business. He owned several expensive watches, a new Corvette, and a 36-foot boat, all of which rather too insistently proclaimed an income higher than the Louisville average. Brenda may have seemed another beautiful accessory; soon after they met on a blind date Ignatow began pursuing the idea of marriage. Schaefer wasn't convinced, though she greatly appreciated the attention and the financial security Ignatow offered. Eventually she relented, and Ignatow and Schaefer were engaged.
Although some people found Ignatow charming, most found him creepy and insincere. As Bob Hill reported in his book about the Schaefer killing, Double Jeopardy, Joyce Smallwood, one of Brenda's friends, found Ignatow distasteful. Smallwood, wrote Hill, "found him a con-artist, telling stories of working for the CIA, or having $300,000 cash hidden in China, or his liaisons with prostitutes in China." Ignatow's vulgarity extended beyond materialist boasting. His conversation was sprinkled with adolescent sexual expressions. His expensive boat was named the Motion Lotion, and he once told a friend that she needed to "sexercise" away some extra weight.