Police: Grandson's bragging raised suspicions in East Dundee slaying

  • Richard Schmelzer enters a Kane County courtroom in October 2014. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his grandmother, Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85, whose body was found July 18, 2014, in her East Dundee home.

    Richard Schmelzer enters a Kane County courtroom in October 2014. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his grandmother, Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85, whose body was found July 18, 2014, in her East Dundee home. Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune, Pool Photo

 
 
Updated 8/18/2016 7:28 PM

A Texas man accused of killing his grandmother at her East Dundee home drew suspicion from police when he volunteered a restaurant credit card receipt as an alibi -- right after he bragged to authorities he normally paid for everything in cash, according to reports.

Richard Schmelzer, 43 of Frisco, a Dallas suburb, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85, who was found stabbed to death in her home on the 100 block of Aldis Drive, the morning of July 18, 2014, after failing to show up for a hair appointment, according to court records and testimony in Kane County court this week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We found that suspicious at that point," Brian Polkinghorn, a South Elgin Police detective and member of the Kane County Major Crimes Task Force, testified this week.

Polkinghorn was one of two detectives to interview Schmelzer July 24, 2014, the day after Darrington's funeral. Defense attorney Joshua Dieden wants to have his client's statements from that interview banned from trial. Dieden argues his client was tired, in a fragile state of mind, and was coerced and tricked by police.

Polkinghorn and East Dundee Police Detective Dan Duda, who also was on the task force, testified Schmelzer came to the South Elgin police station voluntarily, was free to leave, did not appear tired or flustered and was never threatened or ordered to talk.

The turning point in a 2-hour and 45-minute interview with Schmelzer came when police asked him where he was on July 17, 2014, the night before Darrington's body was found.

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Schmelzer offered a receipt from dinner at a Texas restaurant dated July 17 and said the manager, "Amanda," could vouch that he was there that night, the officers testified.

"He said he doesn't believe in plastic and only pays in cash," Duda testified.

However, the receipt showed dinner was paid for via an American Express card, and police called the manager to verify Schmelzer's story.

"She said she had seen Rich at the bar on Saturday, (July) the 19th, but could not recall seeing him on the 17th," Duda said.

Shortly after that, Schmelzer stopped answering questions. He was eventually arrested in September 2014.

Authorities say Schmelzer used a car rented by a friend, bought a prepaid cellphone and drove here to kill Darrington for a share of her estate.

Authorities say Schmelzer returned the vehicle after three days with 1,920 new miles on it and the same car was caught in a toll violation at 2:33 a.m. July 18, 2014, at the Bolingbrook toll plaza on Interstate 355 and Boughton Road, court records show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Schmelzer has been held on $5 million bail at the Kane County jail since his arrest and extradition to Illinois.

He faces between 20 and 60 years in prison if convicted.

Judge Linda Abrahamson will consider Schmelzer's motion and possibly rule on it Aug. 25.

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