Prosecution Aims to Jail Murderer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Ten months after Mel Ignatow was acquitted in the slaying of his fiancee, a roll of film that showed him sexually torturing her was found in a heating duct of his old house.
Ignatow had gotten away with murder.
Eventually, he pleaded guilty to federal perjury charges for lying about Brenda Sue Schaefer’s death. He has served five years in prison and is up for release Oct. 31.
Now prosecutors are desperately trying to keep the man who got away with murder behind bars.
On Thursday, Ignatow, 59, was indicted by state authorities on perjury and persistent felony offender charges, and bail was set at $40,000 cash, which should be enough to keep him in custody. He could get 10 more years if convicted on both charges.
``We’re not on a vendetta. We’re not trying to be vindictive,″ said Dave Stengel, the Jefferson County prosecutor.
Ms. Schaefer’s family reported her missing in 1988 after she failed to return home from a date with Ignatow. More than a year afterward, her body was discovered in a shallow grave, and Ignatow was charged with murder.
Ignatow’s former girlfriend, Mary Ann Shore-Inlow, testified at the 1991 trial that the night of the slaying, she took pictures as Ignatow tied his fiancee to a coffee table, sodomized her and killed her.
But Ignatow was acquitted. One member of the jury said there simply wasn’t enough evidence to link Ignatow to the crime, despite the testimony of his former girlfriend.
Ten months later, the film itself surfaced when the owners of Ignatow’s former home looked into a heating duct.
In 1992, Ignatow went to prison for lying to a federal grand jury and the FBI, but couldn’t be retried for murder because of constitutional protections against double jeopardy.
In pleading guilty, Ignatow admitted: ``I did physically and sexually abuse her, and I did murder her.″ He said he forced Ms. Schaefer to inhale chloroform.
Now, state prosecutors want to try Ignatow for lying during testimony in the 1989 trial of Ms. Schaefer’s employer, who was convicted of harassing Ignatow after her death.
Stengel said his office had received pleas from the public to pursue additional charges to prevent Ignatow’s release.
``We get calls from citizens every day. One today just said, `Please, do the right thing,‴ Stengel said.
Ignatow, an inmate at the federal prison in Milan, Mich., said he wasn’t surprised about prosecutors’ renewed interest in him. But he added: ``It doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to accomplish what they’re going to try.″