BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) – Thirty-two years after the fact, investigators in the Lowcountry believe they have a break in a brutal murder case.
But it didn’t come from a witness or a suspect’s confession — it’s all because of science and technology.
At approximately 8:30 p.m. on November 1, 1987, Margit Schuller was washing clothes in the laundromat at Palmetto Apartments in Burton.
It was a crime that investigators worked on tirelessly when it happened back in 1987, and for years since, with little to no results.
“Her daughter hadn’t seen her in a long time and she went to check on her about 8-830 and found her lying in a pool of blood at the entrance of the laundromat where she had crawled out,” explains Major Bob Bromage of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, and head of the Cold Case Unit.
Schuller was sexually assaulted, shot and killed.
Now a small sample and specific scientific technology may give them the lead — the hope that they’ve been looking for more than 30 years.
“We owe it to the victim, we owe it to the victim’s family to employ technology that’s been proven,” says Bromage.
That technology is available now, and investigators believe it will help them find their man who now has a face to go with the crime.
“If this composite turns out to look like our suspect, kudos to Parabon,” Bromage says.
Parabon is Parabon-Nanolabs who uses a scientific technique called “snapshot DNA”.
It takes a small amount of bodily fluid found at the scene, even 32 years ago in this case, and is able to predict facial structure, skin, eye and hair color as well as generate a composite sketch of what the suspect may look like.
“We have got the murder weapon. we have the suspect’s DNA, Adding a face to it may help us get to where we need to be,” said Bromage. “It generates a lot of interest in the community. They are looking at this saying yeah maybe I do know this person. its also making them think back around the time of the crime if they lived in that area. they say you know I saw something that night let me call this detective and let them know.”
It has been working. Phone calls and leads have come in since the sketch was put out last week.
That’s with just the small size sample needed and the sensitivity of the DNA testing now.
“So when a sensitive analysis like the Parabon came around, you could afford to send a sample out and say ok if it doesn’t work this time then maybe something will come around in a couple of years,” said Bromage.
Investigators believe it could give them the lead they need to end a 32-year long nightmare for this family.
“We work for the public, we work for these families, this is why we do what we do,” Bromage said.
If you think you know anything that may help, or could connect investigators with this suspect, contact Bromage at 843-816-8013.
You can stay anonymous, and if your information leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a reward of up to $5000.