Police: Inconsistencies turned grandson into suspect for 2014 East Dundee murder

  • Richard Schmelzer, right, shown here with and his attorney defense Joshua Dieden, is accused of murdering his grandmother in July 2014 for her inheritance.

      Richard Schmelzer, right, shown here with and his attorney defense Joshua Dieden, is accused of murdering his grandmother in July 2014 for her inheritance. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/15/2016 6:58 PM

When police interviewed Richard Schmelzer after the funeral of his grandmother, Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, in July 2014, he wasn't necessarily a suspect.

Schmelzer was in town from a Dallas suburb, and authorities wanted to talk to him about the death of Darrington, 85, who was found the morning of July 18, 2014, stabbed to death in her own bed in her East Dundee home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

East Dundee Police Detective Daniel Duda testified Thursday that Schmelzer, 44, volunteered a receipt from The Capital Grille in Dallas dated July 17, 2014, and said he paid in cash.

But officers noticed the receipt indicated the meal was paid for with an American Express Card.

Duda also testified Schmelzer told police different routes he had supposedly taken to a work-related conference that weekend and also told police Darrington recently wrote him a $1,500 check for damage to his car windshield, but later claimed he got the money via an credit card reader that plugs into a mobile device.

Duda told Schmelzer of his right to remain silent, and Schmelzer refused to answer any more questions until he had a lawyer.

Schmelzer, whom prosecutors say was deep in debt and cheating on his wife with $450-per-hour escort, was arrested later that summer and charged with Darrington's murder. His trial began in Kane County last week, and prosecutors argue used a fake name to buy a "go phone" that he thought was untraceable, borrowed a car that a friend had rented, and gas purchases made a on gift card map out a path across the Midwest to East Dundee.

Defense attorney Joshua Dieden argues the state's case is circumstantial, lacks direct evidence such as DNA or fingerprints from the crime scene, and authorities rushed to judgment.

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Witnesses have testified that after Darrington's death, Schmelzer seemed detached and more intent on beginning the process to collect his share of her estate.

Wayne Kanper, a financial planner for Darrington, testified Thursday that Schmelzer called him after Darrington's death and was "matter of fact" while discussing setting up an appointment.

Also this week, Paul Gilbert Obermayer, another one of Darrington's financial advisers, testified Schmelzwer called him asking for how long it would take for him to collect Darrington's money.

"(Schmelzer's tone) was very calm and very purposeful," Obermayer said, adding he talked with Schmelzer's wife later that day and "She was extremely distraught and crying and almost incomprehensible on the phone."

The trial is expected to conclude early next week. If convicted, Schmelzer faces 20 to 60 years in prison. He's been held on $5 million bail since his arrest.

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