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Defendant Disappears in Case of SADD Activist Killed by Drunk Driver

May 27, 1996 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) _ It was going to be an open and shut case, police told Rose Marie Maher.

The driver who hit her daughter’s car was legally drunk, traces of drugs were found in her system, and she had admitted drinking at a bar.

Just take care of the funeral, they said.

Angela Maher, who had founded a Students Against Drunk Driving in her high school in 1990, was on her way to bring home a friend from a Scottsdale bar when she was killed in July 1994. The irony of her death wasn’t lost on friends and strangers, who streamed into town for the 21-year-old’s funeral.

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``Angela wasn’t the kind of person you’ll ever forget. You could ask anyone who ever ran across her path,″ said Rose Marie Maher.

Struggling with her grief, Mrs. Maher began seeing a counselor. She traveled to Nebraska for what would have been her daughter’s college graduation. And she waited for the trial.

It never came.

Ten days before jury selection was to begin last September, the driver fled. Left behind was a family grieving over the loss of Angela and its faith in justice.

To the Mahers, Gloria Schulze’s disappearance was the final insult in a case they say was carelessly handled.

A month passed between Angela’s death and Schulze’s arraignment on manslaughter and drunken driving charges. The charges did not bar her from driving or leaving the state.

``There’s still an open wound, as long as Gloria Schulze isn’t found,″ said Angela’s brother, Donald Maher, 27, of Sacramento, Calif. ``There’s no closure, so there’s no real healing.″

Mrs. Maher’s voice breaks as she speaks of the wedding, the children, the things Angela will never have.

``So that’s my daily routine. I cry and I pray to God that they find (Schulze),″ she said.

Schulze, 31, had no prior criminal record, so prosecutors felt there was no reason to put her behind bars or to take her driver’s license.

She kept working at several temporary jobs and lived alone in a house her parents owned in northeast Phoenix.

Her final pre-trial court conference came on Sept. 15. Schulze was a no-show and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

``Hindsight is a hell of a lot better than foresight. She made all of these court appearances, and then all of a sudden she’s gone,″ said Bill Fitzgerald, spokesman for the Maricopa county attorney’s office.

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But there had been red flags. Early in the month, Schulze missed a urine test _ one of three a week she was ordered to undergo. She skipped at least four more urine tests after that and a Sept. 11 appointment with a counselor.

Prosecutors say they weren’t told of Schulze’s missed appointments, but the head of the court agency supervising her says there was no reason to call.

``I see the regular course of business of an officer,″ said Gary Graham, judicial administrator for the court’s criminal department. ``I don’t see any impropriety.″

The same day Schulze skipped her court conference, her mother filed a missing person’s report at the police department.

Carolynn Schulze had been visiting Phoenix since Sept. 13, and couldn’t get in touch with her daughter, she told police. But when officers showed up at Gloria’s house to investigate, her mother refused to let them in.

Gloria’s attorney had advised Carolynn Schulze not to let police in without a search warrant, said Scottsdale police Sgt. Brian Freeman.

Within two weeks of Schulze’s disappearance, two cars registered to her that were left behind when she disappeared were sold. A month later, so was the house.

Her parents did not return messages left by The Associated Press at their home in Mission Viejo, Calif. Larry Kazan, Gloria Schulze’s attorney, did not return messages left at his office in Phoenix.

Police got about 30 phone tips after the case was profiled in April on NBC’s ``Unsolved Mysteries,″ but say no sightings of Schulze have been reported.

``This is a woman who obviously has some feelings of guilt, and can’t handle it any other way but to run,″ said Fitzgerald. ``And that’s got to be a scary way to live, always looking over your shoulder.″

The Mahers are not sympathetic.

Angela, a senior at Creighton University in Nebraska, was in Arizona to celebrate her mother’s 57th birthday. She had been home only a few hours when her friend called for a ride.

``It was an unwritten rule with Angela _ you need a ride, don’t hesitate to call,″ said Donald.