RECKLESS ABANDON

CRIME VICTIMS' NIGHTMARE: ROBBED THREE TIMES BY THE SAME GUY AND ACCUSED OF HIRING HIM TO DO IT.

Robinson also says he does not know why Weaver and Schilling were not notified prior to Brown's release. He is sure, however, that the oversight wasn't the police department's fault: Such notification is the responsibility of the agency that's holding the prisoner, in this case the sheriff's department, he says.

At the sheriff's department, spokesman Duane Brady says it -would have been the sheriff's department's job to notify Weaver and Schilling, if Brown had been released on bond. Since he was released instead as a result of the county attorney's decision not to press charges, prosecutor Michael Breeze should have done the calling, Brady says.

Brady then volunteers that the whole system of victim notification has been greatly improved in '92, as though it's a believable thing to say. "We have really streamlined that whole procedure, so that it makes it easier for the victim," he says. "We would be happy to show it to you if you want to do a bigger article on it."

And another thing: Brady says that, despite the fact that it wasn't even his department's job to notify the victims this time, notification was mailed to Schilling and Weaver on the day of Brown's release.

Well, something was mailed. Schilling and Weaver confirm that they received some form letters from the sheriff's department on January 8, after Brown had already returned and attacked Weaver. The letters they produce do not mention anything about release, however. These letters say that Brown was being held without bond.

IT IS POSSIBLE, of course, that Weaver and Schilling did intend to defraud their insurance company. Many people have defrauded their insurance companies before, for less reason than the mounting expenses that accompany a fatal illness. The original police reports pointedly note that, upon the return of their property following the first robbery, they told police they wanted to file for new items. (Weaver and Schilling say that they never intended to apply for the replacement of undamaged property, such as their stereo equipment, but that they did mention to police the possible replacement of things damaged or dirtied beyond repair, such as their clothing and some pieces of jewelry.)

It is possible that the whole thing was a scam, but it's not terribly likely. Brown had told Detective Parks that Weaver and Schilling needed money to defray the cost of AIDS, but by all accounts there is no appearance of pressing need in their lives.

After a $25 monthly deductible, Weaver's healthcare costs are paid in full by Samaritan Health Services. Although the couple has lost Weaver's income over the past 18 months, Schilling is still employed, and they say they have adjusted to new financial realities by starting up a small business dealing antiques and by keeping their personal overhead low. (They say that both their cars are paid for and that even their $544 house payment is subsidized to the tune of $265 by the rent they collect from a tenant who lives over the garage.)

Perhaps even more significant, numerous friends, neighbors and family members all say that they have been willing and able to help out when the need arises, but that it primarily hasn't.

"My family has a little money. I have never needed or wanted for anything, and I know that I never will," says Weaver. "I don't need to break the law to pay my bills."
His mother, Jean, remembers pitching in $1,000 for home repairs and another $1,000 toward expenses during the lag time that it took Weaver to qualify for social security after he became ill, but she says that money hasn't even been a topic of discussion over the past year. "Whenever they need money, they can always call on us, but Chris has wanted to do it himself," she says. "We have not given them much at all."

Schilling points out that, even if the question of financial need is put entirely aside, the sort of burglary performed by Anthony Brown is not the one he would have orchestrated, if it had come to that. 'With my DOC connections, I could have hired someone who really knows the insurance business," he says. "We would have gone on vacation, and we would not have stolen stereo equipment. There are items of greater value in our home." He points out a Baccarat crystal vase he estimates is worth $800, and an art object of $1,000 value. "If I was going to do an insurance fraud, why would I hire a scumbag drug addict?"

Perhaps it was these compelling arguments that also convinced the accusers. Something did. Spokesman Kevin Robinson says that Schilling and Weaver are no longer suspected of insurance fraud by the police department, and the same conclusion has been reached by the couple's insurance company, American Family, which delayed payment on the burglary claim at first when the suspicion of insurance fraud surfaced in police reports. Rob Morris, the district property claims manager at American Family, says his company's investigation, launched as a result of the suspicions contained in the police report, did not turn up the irregularities typical of insurance frauds. The claim has now been paid in full.

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