Off-duty Appleton Firefighter Scott Schmidt Shot & Killed His Wife 911 Call
APPLETON — An off-duty Appleton firefighter remains in jail on a $1 million cash bond for the “execution-style” shooting of his estranged wife while his attorney prepares a motion to say the man is incompetent to stand trial.
Scott E. Schmidt, 38, stared at the defense table and showed little emotion today when he was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and bail jumping in Outagamie County Court.
The homicide charge carries a mandatory life in prison, although the sentencing judge has the option to set a parole eligibility date. The other two charges add 66 years in maximum prison sentences.
Schmidt has been jailed since Friday, when police say he shot and killed his estranged wife, Kelly Schmidt, 39, and wounded his mother-in-law, Barbara Wing, 66, in the driveway of the Grand Chute home the couple had shared.
Kelly Schmidt died about five hours after the Friday morning shooting from multiple gunshot wounds to the head, while Wing was treated and released at a hospital for a gunshot wound to the chest.
Court Commissioner Brian Figy set the bond after Deputy Dist. Atty. Melinda Tempelis said Schmidt owned two homes, ran a small side business in addition to working full time as a firefighter and has access to his state retirement funds.
Tempelis also said Schmidt had threatened one of the five children — ranging in age from toddler to high school — who live in the Grand Chute home.
That he admitted to checking e-mail and computer programs to track Kelly Schmidt shows he planned the shooting, Tempelis said.
“I am concerned about the safety of the children as well as the community,” Tempelis said.
As conditions of bond, she asked that he be banned from any contact with the five children.
Schmidt’s attorney, Greg Petit, did not argue for a lower bond, but told Figy he questions whether Schmidt is competent to assist in his own defense and stand trial.
The courtroom was filled with at least a dozen officers from the Appleton and Grand Chute police departments and the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department, as well as reporters and a few domestic violence prevention advocates.
The case has been assigned to Judge John Des Jardins, and Figy told Petit to prepare a written motion on his competency claim.
Figy said the competency issue would probably be taken up before a preliminary hearing, where a judge decides if there is enough probable cause to advance the case.
The story behind the shootings
Barbara Wing, who survived the Grand Chute shooting that claimed her daughter’s life, told police the two women spent the minutes before Scott E. Schmidt opened fire trying desperately to distract him from the couple’s two young children.
Wing said she arrived at the home on East Edgewood Drive not long after her daughter, Kelly Schmidt, called her to say Scott, who had moved out a month earlier as the couple’s marriage was disintegrating, was there.
Kelly was calm, there was no noise in the background and Wing had no idea she was about to walk into a confrontation that would turn fatal.
When she arrived, the situation already had become dire.
“Mom, get the kids, he’s got a gun, get out,” Kelly yelled from the second floor as Wing entered the home to the sounds of arguing.
Wing’s account is detailed by investigators in the criminal complaint, search warrant requests and a recording of the 911 call she placed after she herself had been shot once in the chest.
When she entered the home, Wing told police she saw the couple and spotted the handgun at Scott’s side. Wing yelled at him to leave, and Kelly bolted downstairs, past her and out the door. Scott followed.
Wing told the two young children to hide in the bathroom, then followed the couple. She heard a gunshot before she caught up to them outside, then saw her daughter lying bleeding on the ground.
As Wing screamed at Scott — “What have you done?” — he turned and shot her, too, hitting her in the chest with a round from the .22-caliber handgun.
Wounded but still mobile, Wing made her way inside and called 911, and a nearby Appleton police officer arrived within moments, prompting Scott to drop the weapon. But not before he’d shot Kelly several more times.
The children, hidden in the home, were safe. Wing was injured but out of danger. Kelly, though, was fatally wounded, and died later at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, the same hospital where she worked at as she pursued a career as a paramedic.
Police quickly learned from Wing and Scott Schmidt, who spoke at length with detectives after the shooting, what transpired from the time he entered the home until he dropped his gun and surrendered.
It took searches of his car, homes and work locker at the Appleton Fire Department to piece together what drove him to the home, a trip that ended with him handcuffed by police officers who work as he did to protect the city.
The evidence suggests Scott Schmidt had developed an unhealthy obsession with his failing marriage, a view bolstered by his words to Appleton police Lt. Charles Klauck: “I had to do it,” he said before dropping the gun, according to court documents.
He told police he’d searched her e-mail and computer files, and was upset that Kelly Schmidt had rented a hotel room in Chicago, where Scott Schmidt suspected she was traveling to spend time with a boyfriend.
Among the items police made note of during their searches:
♦ At his home in Stockbridge, where he was living after moving out from the Grand Chute home, was a Christian paperback devotional intended to aid couples in strengthening their marriages. A handwritten note was tucked inside bearing the names Scott and Kelly Schmidt. There was also a newspaper article about a body that had been found at the Fox River dam.
♦ In his car, which he parked just over a mile away at Appleton’s Fire Station No. 6 before walking to the East Edgewood Drive home, were four letters he’d written to Kelly, a leather pistol holder under the driver’s seat and a one-liter bottle of whiskey beneath the passenger’s seat. There was a pair of binoculars and a box of .22 bullets. A roll of packing tape and pry bar sat on the passenger seat.
♦ In his locker at Fire Station No. 3, base for the decorated 15-year veteran fire lieutenant, police seized a white nylon hangman’s noose and a small piece of paper with 11 typed characters their reports didn’t identify.
Scott Schmidt was charged today with first-degree homicide, first-degree attempted homicide and bail jumping related to another criminal case and held on a $1 million bond. He faces life in prison, though his defense attorney told a court commissioner he doesn’t think Scott Schmidt is competent to stand trial, an issue to be decided on a different day.
Wing declined to talk on the record today, but she issued a statement about Friday’s events.
“I pray that justice will be swift in coming so that my daughter and grandchildren may have the peace that they have so long deserved,” she wrote.
At the home on East Edgewood Drive, only three days removed from the shooting, colored plastic Easter eggs littered the lawn and a green tree swing swayed in the breeze.
Wing asked people to keep her grandchildren and her daughter in their hearts.
“She was a beautiful and caring person who above all else loved her children,” she wrote. “The safety of those children and of me were her only concern even as she ran for her life.”