DEAD and GONE
Angela Maher died on the evening of July 29, 1994, in a crumpled sedan--her feet tangled in the pedals, her body thrown between the bucket seats.
The last thing Angela saw was a half-ton Ford van that drifted into her lane and smashed almost head-on into her Oldsmobile on Scottsdale Road.
It was a twist of cruel irony that Angela was killed by a drunken driver; years before, she had founded a chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving at her high school.
Angela, 21, was about to begin her senior year at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. A political-science major, she wanted to join the foreign service someday, see the world's great capitals. Her graduation portraits had been taken.
Yet she was not completely willing to leave childhood behind. She still watched Sesame Street. She loved to bake peanut butter cookies. She drove her older brother, Donald Jr., nuts by stealing his boxers, stitching up the fly and wearing them as shorts.
She insisted on hugging and kissing her mother whenever either of them left the house. You never know if you'll see a person again, she'd say.
Angela was home that week from summer school because she didn't want her mother, Rose Marie, to be alone on her birthday, July 27. Her father, Donald Sr., had died of cancer in 1990, and Donald Jr. was in law school in Michigan. Mother and daughter had gone to see Forrest Gump to celebrate.
Two evenings later, Angela picked up her mother from her office in Carefree and took her to the Maher residence, near 60th Street and Thunderbird. At about 10 p.m., Angela decided to meet a friend at Stixx, a club on Camelback Road. She said she'd be home by midnight.
But Angela never made it as far as Shea Boulevard. She was pronounced dead at 10:34 p.m. The official cause of death: massive blunt-force trauma.
Tanya Whitesell witnessed the accident. In a deposition, she recalls, "The person that was driving the van looked to me like they were trying to commit suicide or something or they were on drugs ... because what happened was so irrational, and the way the [van] hesitated for a split second and then smashed across the street into the other car was just kind of crazy."
After striking Angela's car, the van flipped high into the air and landed on its roof.
Amazingly, the driver of the van, 33-year-old Gloria Schulze of Scottsdale, sustained only a broken jaw. She was wearing a seat belt; Angela Maher was not.
Angela's grieving mother and brother were determined that Schulze be punished. They exhorted prosecutors, encouraging them to proceed carefully, not to let Schulze off the hook.
Their worst fears have come to pass.
On the night of the wreck, police officers, paramedics and a doctor at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital all smelled alcohol on Schulze's breath. She told one of the cops she'd had three or four beers.
A blood test revealed that Schulze's blood-alcohol level was .15, well above the legal limit of .10. A urinalysis detected traces of marijuana, although it did not show definitively whether Schulze had been stoned at the time of the wreck.
Little is known about Schulze's actions on the night of the accident, or about her life in general. And she's not around to answer questions.
Gloria Schulze is on the lam. She disappeared in September 1995, weeks before she was to go on trial for manslaughter. She has not spent a single minute in jail. She didn't even lose her driver's license.
Angela Maher was mourned far and wide. She had friends all over the world who considered her as family. It was standing room only at her memorial service at Creighton University's 1,500-seat chapel.
Rose Marie Maher was devastated. When police officers told her of Angela's death, she ran screaming through her house, pounding on the cops and threatening everyone she could think of, including the cops, the driver who caused the wreck--even herself.
Rose Marie is tough. She runs her own travel agency in Carefree. Now she's thrown her energy into the court case against Gloria Schulze.
She's not looking for money. Last year she settled with Schulze's insurance company for a paltry $15,000, the maximum liability Schulze carried. Rose Marie's insurance company paid another $200,000.
The Mahers were certain the Maricopa County Attorney's Office would make this case a top priority, if only because bungling it would be a public relations catastrophe.
Because of Angela's activities with Students Against Drunk Driving, her death was reported on the front pages of the local dailies and on the evening news. Her story would have played well before a jury, too, but pretrial machinations dragged on for more than a year. When the final trial date drew near, the suspect fled.
She was given every opportunity.
The law enforcement and judicial systems have built-in safeguards that are designed to make certain that people like Gloria Schulze are held accountable. In this case, every safeguard failed. For example:
* Although she admitted to drinking, and there were strong indications she was intoxicated, Schulze was not arrested the night of the accident.
* Few restrictions were placed on Schulze's movements. She was allowed to travel to California to visit her family days after the accident--before she was even charged. She was allowed to return to California to spend Christmas with family in 1994. She also was allowed to attend her sister's college graduation in the spring of 1995--at about the same time Angela Maher's college diploma was awarded posthumously.
* The trial was postponed six times, at the defense attorney's request and without objection from prosecutors.
* After she was charged with manslaughter, Schulze was released without bond, despite that she has no close ties to the community. The judge ordered her to undergo drug testing.
* Perhaps most crucially, the court and the prosecutor never were notified when Schulze failed to show up for five mandatory drug tests. She might have been gone for two weeks before any authorities realized it.
Rose Marie Maher has had to pressure top elected officials to hunt for Schulze, to do something more than simply issuing a bench warrant for her arrest.
Maher hired attorneys Dan Maynard and Mike Curran to represent her in her civil suit against Schulze. She fretted about thecriminal case, but Maynard recalls he told her, "Take it easy. This has all been in the papers. [Maricopa County Attorney Richard] Romley is a real political animal. They're gonna take care of this."
Looking back, Maynard says, "I was wrong."
The day after she buried her daughter, RoseMarie Maher met with deputy Maricopa County attorney Michelle O'Hair-Schattenberg and her supervisor, Terry Jennings.
"I told them why I was there," Maher recalls. "I said, 'I don't want any mistakes. And I don't want you to sweep this under the carpet.'"
The prosecutors were indignant at the suggestion that they might blow the case.
Maher, as it turned out, had good reason to worry.
She didn't know it at the time, but O'Hair-Schattenberg was the prosecutor in one of the biggest screw-ups in the history of drunken-driving prosecutions in Maricopa County.
In February 1988, Frank Marquess ran a red light, causing an accident in which another motorist, Jim Hilliard, died. Marquess' blood-alcohol level was .19. He was charged with manslaughter. But Judge Rebecca Albrecht dismissed the case after O'Hair-Schattenberg announced she couldn't locate the lone witness to the accident.
At the time, the prosecutor was quoted as saying, "I had an investigator looking for her for a month, and we couldn't find her. Without a witness, all I had was two cars colliding at an intersection."
However, months after the dismissal, Jon Colvin, a private investigator hired by the Hilliard family, located the missing witness by calling a number listed on the original police report.
Officially, the snafu occurred when Tom Collins was Maricopa County attorney. But the story broke after Rick Romley had taken office, and Romley launched an investigation into the matter. He refiled charges against Marquess; but they were tossed out of Superior Court, and later dismissed by the Arizona Court of Appeals.
In an impassioned letter to the editor of a local daily, Romley wrote of the Marquess debacle: "This case is an excellent example of the network of relationships that may affect the outcome of a crime. We recognize that there are problems with the justice system and these need to be addressed at all levels, inside and outside my office.
"As Maricopa County Attorney, I accept the responsibility of vigorously prosecuting persons who have broken the law. It is my firm belief that the criminal justice system must protect all, equally, otherwise none are protected."
But five years later, the problems that allowed Frank Marquess to walk haven't been fixed.
The Mahers' attorneys, Dan Maynard and Mike Curran, hired private investigator Colvin to work on the Schulze case. Colvin was shocked to discover that O'Hair-Schattenberg was the prosecutor in the Schulze case. Maynard convinced the County Attorney's Office to assign another prosecutor to the case.
In October 1994, deputy county attorney Mitch Rand replaced O'Hair-Schattenberg, who months later resigned to become a Tempe city judge.
O'Hair-Schattenberg wasn't on the Schulze case long, but she left her mark on it.
Paramedics and cops smelled alcohol on Gloria Schulze's breath after the wreck. She told police she had had three or four beers. Officer William Monahan, a trained drug-recognition technician, performed an evaluation on Schulze, and determined there was probable cause to take blood and urine samples for testing.
Scottsdale Police Detective Shawn Twitchell later said in deposition that there was ample reason to arrest Schulze that night, but he deferred that decision to the on-call county attorney--Michelle O'Hair-Schattenberg.
In his report, Twitchell wrote, "I asked Schattenberg if she desired us to take custody of Schulze immediately and Schattenberg declined, stating it would be better to complete the investigation and then submit a formal complaint."
Schulze retained attorney Larry Kazan, who had represented Marquess and is renowned for his skill in DUI cases.
Schulze cooperated with the investigation, voluntarily going to the Scottsdale police station on August 8--ten days after the accident--to be booked.
According to court papers filed by Kazan, O'Hair-Schattenberg then granted Schulze permission to travel to California to visit her family. Kazan offered to provide the address and phone number where Schulze could be reached, but says O'Hair-Schattenberg declined his offer. O'Hair-Schattenberg did not respond to New Times' request for an interview.
Schulze was indicted by a county grand jury on August 23 on one count of manslaughter and three counts of endangerment.
She was not charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence. Prosecutors explain that they often pass on the opportunity because there is the risk that a jury will convict on the lesser charge. (If Schulze had been charged with DUI, she would have immediately lost her driving privileges for 90 days.)
Many of Angela's friends from Creighton flew in for the first court appearance, September 6. They and the Mahers were horrified when Superior Court Judge Michael Ryan released Schulze without setting bond. Schulze pleaded not guilty.
Ronald Reinstein, presiding judge of the criminal division of Maricopa County Superior Court, is not surprised Schulze was released without bond, because a summons--rather than a warrant--was issued by the grand jury.
He explains, "If it's a summons, the state's already telling you that they have no objection to an OR [own recognizance] release, because otherwise they would have requested a warrant at the time of the grand jury. So in this case, if that's what happened, then a summons was issued at the request of the state because they felt that the person didn't have a likelihood of fleeing."
Rose Marie Maher says, "I don't care who you are. If you kill somebody, you're a flight risk."
In hindsight, it's easy to recognize the factors that made Gloria Schulze a flight risk. Although she had no criminal record and had lived in the Valley for years, she had no strong ties to the community. Her parents live in Mission Viejo, California. She rented a house from them that they owned in Scottsdale. She didn't have a regular job, but did freelance secretarial work out of her home. At the time of the accident, Schulze was driving a van registered to her father in California.
But Judge Ryan did not learn all these details. Because Schulze was indicted by a grand jury--rather than arrested and booked at the county jail--she did not undergo a pretrial interview that helps determine whether a defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community.
The judge did place some conditions on Schulze's release: She was to report by phone once a week to the Pretrial Services Agency, a division of the Maricopa County Superior Court. She also had to report for drug testing three times a week. If a defendant does not cooperate with pretrial conditions, the prosecution can request that her release status be revoked or that bond be imposed or boosted.
Dan Maynard acknowledges that a bond would not have guaranteed that Schulze would have stuck around, but it would have made it more likely, he says.
"You have her parents put up $100,000 or something, because then if she does flee, her parents are going to lose all their money," he says.
Maynard is still shocked by the judge's decision. "You have a woman who is not married, has no children, has no husband, has no property here, and she has no really visible means of employment. Why in the world would you let her out?"
The case was assigned to Judge Barbara Jarrett, and trial was scheduled for November 21, 1994. To the Mahers' dismay, the date was changed six times--without objection by the prosecution--with the final trial set for September 25, 1995. (By that time, the case had been reassigned to Judge Linda Scott.)
Under pressure from the Mahers, O'Hair-Schattenberg filed a motion arguing that Schulze's release conditions be changed. Jarrett denied the request. Longtime observers of the judicial system say Jarrett was correct to deny the motion; there had been no substantive change in Schulze's actions between the arraignment and O'Hair-Schattenberg's motion. Thus, there was no legal reason to change a previous order.
Mitch Rand took over as prosecutor October 21, 1994. Schulze requested permission to travel to California twice--for Christmas, then for her sister's college graduation. Both requests were granted, despite Rand's objections.
Schulze returned--as promised--from both trips. In fact, she showed up for all of her drug tests and court appearances.
Until September 1995.
Rose Marie Maher looked around the courtroom at a pretrial hearing on September 15, and saw only Schulze's parents and her attorney, Larry Kazan.
Rand and Kazan met with Judge Scott in her chambers, then Rand took Maher and Mike Curran into the hall to tell them Schulze had fled, and if anyone knew her whereabouts, he or she wasn't saying.
Rand also told Maher and Curran that he had received a report within the past week from someone who had claimed Maher had made additional threats against Gloria Schulze.
Rand refuses to reveal his source.
He says, "I'm not going to be able to comment whether Mrs. Maher made threats or didn't make threats or what they may have been, because, since she is the victim's mother, potentially she could be called as a witness. So I'd rather not get into any statements that she may or may not have made."
Within hours of the pretrial hearing, Gloria Schulze's mother, Carolyn, filed a missing-person report with the Phoenix Police Department. She told police she feared foul play, and said Rose Marie Maher had physically threatened her daughter.
"Carolyn believes these threats to be legitimate and has now feared that maybe something has happened to Gloria as a result of these threats being made by Rose Maher," the report says.
Carolyn Schulze also told police she had last spoken to her daughter by telephone the week before Memorial Day. She said she had arrived in town September 13 and had gone to Gloria's Scottsdale home. Gloria was not there.
"She stated that Gloria has all of her personal belongings in the house. There is no indication that Gloria has packed and left town for any reason whatsoever," the report says.
However, Carolyn Schulze didn't sound too concerned about her daughter's welfare when reached at her California home last week. She declined an interview, per Kazan's advice.
But when asked pointblank if she's heard from Gloria, she pauses, then says, "Now, if I had heard from her, do you think I'd tell you?"
Kazan says he hasn't heard from his client. To his knowledge, he says, all of the threats to Gloria Schulze were secondhand; Rose Marie Maher never spoke to Schulze on the phone or in person.
However, Kazan says, Gloria Schulze knew of the threats. He says, "I know she was on pins and needles about it."
Dan Maynard calls the threats "garbage."
"I've said it to the governor and I've said it to the police and I've said it to everyone else--ifshe'd [Maher] ever wanted to do anything, she lived within a mile of this woman," he says. "She never went over to this woman's house. She never called her. She never contacted her. She just vented at times. That's all."
The Mahers and their attorneys believe Schulze fled not because of any alleged threats, but because she was unhappy with a plea bargain offered late that summer. Curran says that under the proposed plea agreement, Schulze would have had to plead guilty to the manslaughter charge and serve a prison term of 14 to 16 years.
Rose Marie Maher says, "The day of that plea offer is the day she started planning to leave."
Gloria Schulze had a running start in her escape, thanks in part to Maricopa County's Pretrial Services Agency.
Schulze missed five drug-testing appointments in a row--between September 1 and 13--but no one at Pretrial Services informed the prosecutor or the court. Perry Mitchell, the administrator of Pretrial Services, says there is no formal policy that dictates when his agency should alert the court of missed appointments or failed drug tests. It is unusual, he says, for someone to miss five appointments before notice is given.
Mitch Rand says, "It's rare. I really haven't run into that before."
Usually, he says, he hears about failed drug tests or missed appointments after two or three.
Once a defendant has missed appointments or has failed drug tests, the prosecution can ask the court to alter or revoke the defendant's release status. In this case, Schulze's failure to appear would have alerted the authorities that she might have taken off, and might have made it easier to locate her.
Instead, the first written notification that Schulze had missed her appointments is dated September 15, the day Schulze failed to appear in court.
Mitchell says it is difficult to track appearances for drug tests because the testing is done by an independent, off-site contractor, the Treatment Assessment Screening Center. TASC does not look out for missed appointments; it only produces results and turns them over to Pretrial Services. The results can take a day and a half to come back, and Pretrial Services only collects the results three times a week. Thus, it can be many days before a missed test is discovered.
Mitchell says he is working to rectify that problem by getting computer equipment that can transfer the information more quickly.
He admits that the pretrial officer responsible for Gloria Schulze should have notified the court of the missed appointments prior to the court hearing.
He says, "Pretrial services under my authority should have reacted earlier in this case."
County officials are now reviewing the method by which Pretrial Services notifies the court and prosecutor of missed and failed appointments. They insist the review is a coincidence--nothing to do with Schulze.
Judge Ronald Reinstein says, "From what I understand, they were going to be talking about it anyway. This case is just an example of what can happen."
For a while, it appeared that the Mahers and their attorneys were the only ones who cared whether Gloria Schulze ever stands trial. A bench warrant was issued September 15, but that was about it.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is the repository for all warrants in the county. In 1995, Sergeant John Kleinheinz says, the office received almost 40,000 warrants--a daunting figure, considering that the warrant detail is staffed by only seven deputies.
That may be why the warrant detail cleared only 1,025 cases. (Additional warrants were cleared by other law enforcement agencies.)
Kleinheinz admits it's difficult to launch a full-scale search for every fugitive. Instead, police figure the fugitive will one day forget to register a car or get pulled over for speeding--and then she'll be caught.
Maynard scoffs: "That's how they look for fugitives. They don't look."
Because the accident occurred in Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Police Department is also involved.
Maynard asked the Scottsdale police and Rand to search Schulze's Scottsdale home. They refused, he says, stating they needed permission from Schulze's parents, who owned the house. Maynard says he believed there was sufficient probable cause to get a search warrant.
He says, "I'm thinking, 'Jeez, don't you guys watch TV?'"
September turned into October--with no word on Schulze's whereabouts. Rose Marie Maher grew more anxious. She started making appointments.
In mid-October, she spoke with Douglas Bartosh, Scottsdale's executive assistant chief of police. She was assured that the Scottsdale police were looking for Schulze. Scottsdale police spokesman Brian Freeman will only say that his department is still actively working the case.
Maher met with Governor J. Fife Symington III, who referred her complaint to the state Department of Public Safety. But DPS, she says, refused to get involved because Scottsdale police already were investigating.
She also met with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose staff admitted to her that it didn't begin actively working the Schulze file until October 30, the day Maher asked to meet with Arpaio. Sheriff's investigators did come up with some interesting facts: Maher says she was told that, in the two weeks before she disappeared, Schulze maxed out her credit cards and sold two automobiles.
Finally, after a year of repeated requests, Maher met with County Attorney Rick Romley on November 20. Mike Curran, who was also at the meeting, says Romley seemed more concerned that Arpaio's office had disclosed data about Schulze's credit history than about Schulze's whereabouts. But Romley did promise to get the FBI involved.
The FBI finally issued a federal warrant for Schulze on December 1.
"After they were pushed, they finally responded, but it was only after being prodded, and I think it was out of a sense of embarrassment," Maynard says.
That embarrassment is not strong enough to convince the County Attorney's Office to try Schulze in absentia. Rand says that's not an option, and he wouldn't say why.
Meanwhile, Rose Marie Maher has done some detective work of her own, and learned that Schulze's parents sold the Scottsdale house for $115,000 cash. The sale was final October 19.
She says, "You think I'm going to let her walk the face of the Earth after I buried my daughter?"
Christmas 1995 was peaceful. Donald Maher Jr. figures that's the best he can hope for. "It's just not the same when half of your family's gone," he says.
Donald, 27, looks a lot like his sister, whose photograph is displayed prominently throughout the Mahers' home. He still speaks of his sister in the present tense, relishing any opportunity to talk about Angela--even if it's about her faults.
She's lazy. Strong-headed. She procrastinates.
"She can be temperamental. She's definitely got her own opinions, and she's not afraid to express those opinions."
That's actually one of her biggest assets, but it can get out of hand. "You ask her a question and she'll tell you the truth. You ask her how the outfit looks, and she'll say, 'Take it off, girl!'"
Donald is a quiet guy, and he always marveled at the way his gregarious sister could walk into a roomful of strangers and instantly be at ease.
"I'm sure you know people like that," he says. "You meet them and you just like them. You don't know why. You just like them. You like to talk to them."
Donald isn't shy about his view of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. Earlier this month, he wrote to Mitch Rand, "Given your handling of this case, it does not appear that you or your office can or will vigorously prosecute Gloria Schulze for killing my 21year old sister Angela Marie. The vary [sic] events we warned you about and that you assured us would not happen did take place. You can play all the games you want but my mother and I will not go away.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.