The jury in Kane County returned its verdict Tuesday against 44-year-old Richard Schmelze of Frisco, Dallas
Prosecutors during his trial said Schmelzer lived an extravagant lifestyle that left him behind on his mortgage and deeply in debt.
They argued Schmelzer in July 2014 drove hundreds of miles to East Dundee, Illinois, to stab 85-year-old Mildred “Dodie” Darrington in her bed.
Schmelzer, the married father of four children, stood to inherit at least $300,000 upon her death.
He faces up to 60 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month. The defendant setup an elaborate alibi, the court was told., including receipts from a restaurant near his home and claims of attending a three-day work conference, was challenged as prosecutors discovered a cousin rented a car for Schmelzer.
Employees at the restaurant said he was not there that night, and that Schmelzer purchased a “burner” cellphone that pinged towers from Texas, through the middle of the country, and up to East Dundee, his grandmother’s hometown.
The motive, it was alleged, was that Schmelzer had an extravagant lifestyle, was outspending the $200,000 family income. He paid for a $250-an-hour Las Vegas escort,and rang up nearly $30,000 in cash advances against Darrington’s credit card in the months leading up to her death.
East Dundee Chief of Police Terry Mee speaking after the verdict said this decision “provides a little bit of closure for this family who lost a significant family member in a horrific crime,” Mee said.
“(Schmelzer’s) deceit is astonishing, and it was done because he was so overcome with greed,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said in a news release. “Quite frankly, it’s still hard to fathom — this man killed his own grandmother to further a lifestyle of gluttony that he couldn’t otherwise pay for. He had 14 hours and 900 miles to rethink his plan, but he carried it out, anyway, a calculated, cold-blooded murder.”
Schmelzer’s next court date is set for Jan. 25. The sentencing hearing will be set at a later date. He remains in custody at the Kane County jail, where he has been held since September 2014 in lieu of $5 million bail. Bond was revoked upon conviction.