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Deadly Wives: Suzanne Lucy Schoff had her ex-husband, Frank Schoff III, killed on the last day she had custody of their children

Frank Schoff IIIFrom Suzanne Schoff’s appeal: Appellant and Husband had one child (“Son”) and lived in Baltimore, Maryland during their marriage.   After separating, Appellant made several attempts to disrupt court-ordered custody arrangements by lodging multiple complaints against Husband with the Baltimore City Department of Social Services (“DSS”).  Appellant alleged Husband was sexually molesting Son during authorized visits.   DSS investigators could not substantiate Appellant’s claims by evidence available or found no evidence existed to support the allegations.   On January 17, 2003, Husband filed a motion for sole legal and physical custody of Son, which the court in Baltimore granted on July 7, 2003.

Appellant and her mother (“Mother”) began plotting the murder of Husband.   Appellant’s desire to have Husband killed was apparently motivated by her anger over their custody battle and her impending loss of control over Son. Appellant and Mother solicited three successive individuals, Robert Atkinson, Victor Tyrell, and James Gilmore, to carry out the murder on Appellant’s behalf.   Appellant and Mother told each of them about the alleged sexual abuse, and that they wanted Husband killed to prevent him from gaining custody of Son. They indicated Appellant was desperate to the point she might hurt herself and/or her children if Husband was not killed.   At various times, Appellant and Mother provided cash, bail money, intimate relationships, room and board, and other favors in exchange for the anticipated assistance.   All three men led Appellant to believe they would assist her, but none of them brought the plan to fruition.

Appellant and Mother then approached Terry Wingler (“Wingler”) to kill Husband.   Wingler and Appellant had a daughter from a brief earlier relationship.   Wingler believed Husband was sexually abusing Son, and that Appellant might hurt herself and/or the children over the custody battle.   Wingler agreed to do the killing, apparently driven by his feelings for Appellant and concern for the children.   Wingler expressed no independent, personal desire to kill Husband.   In fact, they had been childhood friends.

Appellant and Mother coordinated the details of the killing and relayed them to Wingler.   Appellant helped arrange for Wingler to pick up his gun, which Appellant’s uncle had been storing in his home in Virginia.   Appellant drove Wingler from Maryland to Husband’s auto body shop in Pennsylvania to familiarize Wingler with the area.   Mother provided Wingler with a box of bullets for the gun.   Appellant rented a gold-colored car for Wingler so his own vehicle would not be recognized.

On the eve of the killing, Appellant and Wingler stayed in a Baltimore motel with the children.   On August 6, 2002, Wingler left the motel early in the morning with a .32 caliber semiautomatic gun, ski mask, gloves and a sweater, and drove to Pennsylvania in the rental car for the sole purpose of killing Husband.   Around 2:00 p.m., he parked in front of Husband’s auto shop.   Wingler approached Husband, as he worked on a car, and shot him seven times with the .32 caliber semiautomatic gun.   Husband’s girlfriend heard the shots and ran to help him.   Husband died at the scene from fatal gunshot wounds to the torso.   A witness from across the street also heard the shots and observed the shooter, wearing a ski mask, enter the gold-colored vehicle.   After the shooting, Wingler disposed of the weapon, ski mask, gloves, and sweater in a wooded area near the auto shop.   Wingler killed Husband just a few days before Husband was to gain full custody of Son.

dv awarenessWingler maintained contact with Appellant both before and after killing Husband, when he told Appellant “the job” was done.   Wingler drove back to Baltimore and arranged to meet Appellant so she could return the rental car.   Wingler then drove to a Baltimore hospital to receive care for an injured back.   Appellant, Mother, and the children met Wingler at the hospital and proceeded to a Bob Evans restaurant.   There, officers from the Baltimore City Police Department approached the group and asked to speak with them.   Appellant, Mother, Wingler, and the children accompanied the detectives to the Baltimore City Homicide Unit.

Appellant, Mother and Wingler were subsequently arrested and charged with the murder.3  Wingler ultimately confessed to killing Husband, and entered a plea agreement by which he pled guilty to third-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in exchange for his testimony at Appellant’s trial.   Commonwealth witnesses also included the individuals who heard the shots fired, the individuals Appellant had originally solicited for the killing, the DSS social worker, and the police officer who had investigated the sex abuse allegations.   The Commonwealth also presented detailed testimony from a Sprint witness as to length of the cellular phone calls between Appellant and Wingler on the date of the killing as well as the cell tower locations.   On August 31, 2004, the jury convicted Appellant of first-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.   On October 15, 2004, the court sentenced Appellant to life imprisonment without parole.  

City duo charged in Pa. shooting
Woman killed husband (scroll down)
Woman convicted of custody-battle murder
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v Suzanne Schoff 2006 (conviction and sentence affirmed)

Snapped: Suzanne Schoff

Suzanne Lucy Schoff – convicted, sentenced to LWOP
Terry Allen Wingler Jr – pled guilty, sentenced to life in prison
Lucy Mariner –


Suzanne Schoff

Offender Name: SCHOFF, SUZANNE
Custody Status: In Custody
Age: 40
Location: SCI Muncy
Race: White
Contact Facility: PA Department of Corrections
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More Info


Terry Wingler

Offender Name: WINGLER, TERRY A
Custody Status: In Custody
Age: 42
Location: SCI Huntingdon
Race: White
Contact Facility: PA Department of Corrections
Notify Me of Status Changes
More Info

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