Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mel Ignatow

She died peacefully

Once confronted with the photographs Ignatow quickly confessed, then immediately tried to spin his confession into an act of good will on his part. He'd save the great Commonwealth of Kentucky the time and effort of the chase, and, he said, he hoped that his confession would bring some level of comfort to the Schaefer family. In his confession, after admitting to spending hours torturing and killing Brenda, Ignatow then claimed, "She died peacefully." Since chloroform renders its users unconscious, Ignatow somehow persuaded himself that her death had been peaceful. He also claimed that the devil made him do it, literally.

Ignatow was sentenced to two separate jail terms for perjury. He served five years of an eight-year term for perjuring himself during his grand jury testimony. He was also sentenced to nine years for lying about the status of his relationship with Brenda Schaefer during the trial of Dr. William Spalding for terroristic threatening.

Ignatow gained his freedom in 2006 and moved in with his son in Louisville, mere miles from where he had tortured and killed Brenda Sue Schaefer. Throughout the last stages of his life he never relinquished his sanctimonious self-indulgence. Upon his release from prison he made comments disparaging the Schaefer family. As he told The Courier-Journal, "I don't think they've ever forgiven me. That's between them and the Lord...They place their own soul in jeopardy by not being able to forgive."

Ignatow died a free man on September 1, 2008. He was home alone when he fell through a glass coffee tablepoetic justice, perhaps, given his employment of a similar table as the platform for his assault on Brenda Sue Schaeferand bled to death. The haunting of Louisville by the specter of Ignatow's crimes and the failure of the Kentucky judicial system to bring him fully to account was finally at an end.

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