Decomposed body recovered from stolen car identified as missing Owensville man, 30

Dave Marner

Decomposed remains of an Owensville man missing since mid-December, and discovered April 24 in the trunk of a stolen car in Sullivan, were identified as those of Michael A. Schaefer.

While Schaefer’s death is being investigated as a homicide, Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton said Tuesday they still have many questions to answer.

“The medical examiner did rule it as a homicide,” said Pelton. “It is being investigated as a homicide. At this point we’re not releasing the cause of death due to the investigation.”

Pelton said dental records were used to make a positive identification.

Schaefer was reporting missing on Dec. 17, 2017, according to Pelton.

The 2012 Toyota Corolla which contained Schaefer’s decomposed remains, abandoned on a former Burger King parking lot in the Oak Grove Village community near Sullivan, had been reported stolen in Owensville from West Peters Street on Dec. 12, 2017, according to Owensville police.

Police here said Schaefer had been living across the street from where the car was stolen. Owensville Police Det. Rob Green said the car was taken from Owensville but was not locally owned. It had been parked across the street from where Schaefer resided upstairs in an apartment on West Peters.

Investigators are still trying to determine how long he has been dead.

“We don’t know yet at this point,” said Pelton. “I wish we did. We are actively investigating it right now.”

They are also trying to determine where he was killed and by whom.

At the time the car was reported stolen, Schaefer was also considered “a missing person,” according to a release issued by Green on Friday afternoon.

When the car was located, Green said he received a phone call from Franklin County detectives since a report had been on file with dispatching agencies in the area.

Green said Schaefer had been deceased for an extended period of time.

“There was decomposition,” said Green.

Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies had received a call of a vehicle with a “foul odor emanating from it” which was  parked on the parking lot of the now closed Burger King in Oak Grove Village. 

Schaefer had been employed at LSC Communications, according to Green. Prior to moving to Owensville he had resided at a half-way house north of Steelville after release from state prison.

He had prior convictions for first-degree vehicle tampering and first-degree burglary.  In both felony cases he pleaded guilty and received prison time with suspended executions of sentences and supervised probation. In both cases, he broke the conditions of his probation and was incarcerated.

Court records show he was residing in Pacific when both cases were working their way through circuit courts in Franklin County. His burglary charge was from February 2007 and the tampering case dates back to September 2011.

The burglary charges stemmed from a Franklin County Sheriff’s Department investigation. The tampering case originated with a Pacific police investigation.

He had violated a condition of his probation (drugs) on the tampering case in April 2014. He was sentenced to serve four years in the department of corrections in conjunction with the prior burglary conviction for breaking his probation. 

“He had been transitioning back into society and was working there (at LSC),” said Green of Schaefer’s time at the half-way house.

Comments shared to The Republican’s Facebook page indicated Schaefer was a materials handler for LSC. He listed both LSC Communications and RR Donnelley, as the local printing plant was known previously, as his employer.

Green said investigators from Franklin County were told the Toyota had been parked on the old Burger King parking lot off Highway 185, south of Interstate 44, possibly “for months,” although there were conflicting statements made by people who worked at a nearby business or parked near there.

“The vehicle that was involved was a 2012 grey Toyota Corolla that was reported stolen from Owensville, Mo.,” according to a release on Friday from Pelton. “This investigation is on-going and being co-investigated by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office with the Maries County Sheriff’s Office, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and Owensville Police Department. Further information will be released with future press releases as information is available.”