She was found slumped over the steering wheel of her father’s 1976 Toyota Celica on March 22, 1978. Susan Schmidt had been shot multiple times through the open passenger side window. Detectives gathered what trace evidence they could find, but no answers came. The case went unsolved until August 21, 2015, when authorities arrested a man nearly 2,000 miles away!
It had long been classed as Glendale’s Oldest Unsolved Homicide, but the cold case of Susan Schmidt’s murder was never forgotten. Forty-one years later, a suspect sits in jail, awaiting trial for murder. As of this writing, the case is still in the pre-trial conference phase, but it looks as if a murder trial will commence in February 2020. Will this poor girl finally receive justice?
Susan Schmidt, 21, was an avid student at both the local Glendale Community College and the larger Arizona State University. The former cheerleader was known to help tutor her fellow students who struggled with the classes. Susan was well-liked and seemed to have life by the tail. Why then, was she found shot to death on a rural road heading out of town? The police were left with little in the way of evidence and called the case baffling.
On the night of March 22, 1978, Schmidt was heading back from the local mall where she’d spent the evening shopping. For some unknown reason, she pulled to the side of the dark two-lane road and rolled down the passenger side window. No one knows why, but I tend to think maybe it was for a hitchhiker, or perhaps someone seemed to need help
Without warning, Schmidt was shot several times with a .22 caliber handgun at close range. Around 8:30 pm, a jogger was running along the 7800 block of 55th Avenue and discovered the body of Susan Schmidt slumped over the wheel of her car. Back in the days before cellphones, the witness ran a few blocks down the street to the local fire station to find help, but it was too late. Susan Schmidt was gone.
At first, everyone thought it was a robbery gone wrong, but this was quickly dismissed because the victim’s purse and all of her belongings were still in the car. Strangely, the only thing that seemed missing was her car keys.
Investigators labored over this case file for the next 37 years before an arrest would be made. It seemed as if this case would never be solved, but in August 2015, investigators shocked the world when they announced an arrest.
Physical evidence pointed to a man nearly 2,000 miles away from the crime scene as the killer. Edward Meinhold, 54, was arrested on August 21, 2015, for the 1978 murder of Susan Schmidt. The authorities are elusive to questions regarding the type of “Physical Evidence” used in this case because the trial is still pending.
Lead Investigator Roger Geisler confirmed that old evidence was sent in for some new tests, and those results are what lead them to their suspect. Meinhold was living in Bristol, Virginia, at the time of his arrest and strangely had very little in the way of a criminal record. He has a small ordeal over a bad check, but nothing in history pointed to murder.
Geisler did confirm that a 17-yr-old Meinhold lived near the crime scene at the time of the murder. Other than that, the authorities are being tight-lipped as to the nature of their evidence. I guess we will have to wait and see if it’s strong enough to convict a man after four decades. I will keep you posted.
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