LURAY, Va. (WHSV) -- Please be advised that on days 1-3, WHSV was not allowed to re-enter the Page County Courthouse following our newscasts at 5 p.m. Therefore, any testimony or evidence after that period on those days will not be in this summary.
Joy Schultz was last seen in early September of 2014 when she and her husband, George Schultz, went to an estate sale.
Her purse was later found on I-81 and her phone on Route 33. On October 22, 2014, her husband, George Schultz, led investigators to the body of his dead wife. She was buried inside Shenandoah National Park.
In an affidavit for a search warrant of Joy’s work computer, Schultz told investigators that his wife was shot and killed in the basement of their home. The document did not say who shot her. She changed her life insurance beneficiary from her husband to her brother just two days before she went missing.
George Harold Schultz, and his son, George Zachary Schuppan, have now been convicted of first-degree murder, conspiring to commit first-degree murder, unlawfully transporting, secreting concealing or altering a dead body and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Both men plead initially plead not guilty on all charges. They were tried by a jury of 14 people. Two of those 14 are alternate jurors in the case there is a conflict. Those two were removed prior to deliberation. The case was presided over by Judge Clark Richie in Page County Circuit Court.
Day one was opening statements by both the Commonwealth and defense.
Opening statements were made by Commonwealth's Attorney Ken Alger. He said that Schultz and Schuppan worked together to commit the crime. He described the state of Joy’s remains and also claims that the two defendants drove around in their truck with the body for two days.
He also mentioned that the Schultzs filed for bankruptcy, which is later shown by further testimony. The two attorneys on the defense argued that each man did not have the same level of alleged involvement in the case.
In day two, Investigator Jay Roy with the Page County Sheriff's Office took the stand for one of many times. Roy was one of the main investigators in the case. Today was filled with evidence submission from a search of the Schultz house.
Roy went to the Schultz house in the Town of Shenandoah following Joy’s disappearance. Body camera footage was played showing when investigators went to the house. A lot of the evidence submitted here are pictures of the home. Roy testified to there being pieces of furniture in a burn pile
Initially, according to Roy, Schultz told him that the last time he saw his wife was when they went to bed after the estate sale. She woke up to make coffee, which he knew of, then he didn’t see her. Roy said Schultz was very comfortable when they were at the home, but Schuppan seemed “concerned” with what they were doing.
The state of the Schultz house is continually discussed by investigators. Roy described the house as “quite dirty” and smelling of urine and animal feces. However, the basement of the home smelled heavily of bleach and was very clean. Investigators said the two men had different reasons for why it was clean.
Schulz claimed they were doing remodeling on the “man cave,” while Schuppan said he cleans when he gets nervous. Investigators find this odd because of the condition of the rest of the house.
In George Schuppan’s room, investigators found 10 guns. Two were not loaded. They also found an anatomy and physiology book and ammo cans. In day 3, some of this is presented to the jury including an AK-47, TEC-9 pistol, 22 revolver, 3 boxes of ammo, a 44 magnum and an unloaded double barrel shotgun.
Also in the room was a book with recipes on making explosives and wire fashioned to be a strangulation device.
The back of the Schultzs' truck was also cleaned, and Schultz said he was doing it for Joy. Latex gloves were found in the laundry room, and Schultz said some of Joy’s clothes were missing.
When they were coming back from the estate sale, Schultz told investigators that he and Joy had an argument over a motorcycle he wanted. The couple's alleged marital and financial problems are a continued focus of the case.
"Bow" Cook, a former investigator with the Page County Sheriff's Office and the current Assistant Chief of Luray Police, also took the stand in day two.
He said Schuppan seemed worried about his father and did not show a lot of emotion. In the body camera footage of the investigators with Schultz, Schultz is holding his arm like he is hurt. He told investigators that he broke his collarbone in a go kart accident. When questioned by investigators, Cook said that Schultz would take long pauses in between questions and would talk about different subjects.
According to Cook, from where Joy's purse was found on I-81, it didn’t look like someone was trying to hide it. Speaking about the smell of bleach in the home, Cook said you could smell it when you walked in. Cook said he believes this may be why some of the dogs couldn’t get Joy’s scent. Schultz told Cook that Joy’s family said she had done this before
Another witness is the Schultz's upstairs neighbor. He claimed that when he asked about Joy, George Schultz said, “you know what they say, here today, gone tomorrow.”
The neighbor testified that Schultz did not seem upset and that he did not see him use latex gloves when he was working on cars.
However, the neighbor said that Schultz told him he had been “blowing up” Joy’s cell phone. In testimony from Jay Roy later, phone records show no calls to Joy's cell until investigators come to talk with him later.
The commonwealth is still presenting its case in day three, and Investigator Roy took the stand. Following the first search of the Schultz house, investigators come back with a search warrant. Through testimony today, the jury begins to learn about Schultz's past.
Schultz chose to stay during this search. Roy noted that the house was cluttered and said there were probably more than 100 blades and knives in the home.
In Schuppan's room there were 10 guns. Some of those guns were brought before the jury. Roy asked Schultz that, if Schuppan hurt Joy, would he prosecute. Schultz said, "yes."
Schultz told Roy that he was upset Joy’s family left him out of the missing persons search. Janetta Crawford, Joy's sister, said in later testimony that Schultz did not try to see if Joy was with her.
In the burn pile outside were also a knife, glasses, a suspender clip, and non-human bones. Schultz told Roy that he called Joy several times after she disappeared. Phone records presented did not show that. From September 7th to 9th, phone records showed that no calls were made to Joy from Schultz.
When agents visited Schultz on the 10th, a call was made. On September 9th, Schultz’s phone pinged around 8 p.m. on I-81 close to where Joy’s purse was found. Roy testified to an argument that Schultz and Joy had over a Capital One account she opened.
A large focus of the trial was what witnesses and investigators said was Schultz's former involvement in a motorcycle gang. An agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) who met with Schultz and interviewed Schuppan testified to this. The agent spoke to Schultz’s former involvement in a support club of the Bandidos motorcycle gang. He referred to him as an old school gang member. George Schultz was in witness protection, but the agent said he was removed after trying to buy a firearm with his alias.
According to this testimony, Schultz was the Sergeant at Arms, which is like the enforcer of the gang. The ATF agent secretly recorded his conversation with Schultz, who told him he wanted to be an ATF informant with his son The agent told Schultz that there was no way they could be informants unless there was some resolution with Joy.
Schultz asked the agent about what would happen if they didn’t find her. Schultz also mentioned Joy and George's marital problems and told the agent that a gang may be trying to send him a message. The agent said “messages” are used for intimidation and could be something like kidnapping. The agent also testified that the culture of the types of gangs that Schultz was in treat women as property, and he confirmed that Schuppan served in the army.
Day four was all about where Joy's body was found and the state her body was in. The commonwealth submitted photos of Joy's grave site in Shenandoah National Park. The jury also hears emotional testimony from Joy's sister.
Investigator Roy testified that Schultz was familiar with the trails in the area. A beer bottle was also found at the grave site.
A Virginia State Police special agent said they found light colored hairs at the area where Joy was found and he said the smell of decomposition was strong in the area, especially once the body was exhumed.
In emotional testimony, Joy's sister Janetta Crawford, took the stand. She said that Joy had mentioned leaving Schultz as a threat, because he didn’t do housework or cook. She also said that Joy told her, when Schuppan arrived, Joy felt “threatened for her life.”
There was allegedly an issue over Schuppan wanting to be involved in Schultz’s medical affairs. Crawford testified to Joy having concern over an incident where Schuppan was with them in the doctor’s office.
Crawford claimed she was “irate” that Schultz did not file a missing person’s report and said he did not reach out to her when Joy went missing. According to her testimony, she even quit her job to search for Joy.
Attesting to their marital problems, Crawford said George Schultz expected Joy to cook dinner and work outside of the home. She said Joy took take care of Schultz when he was sick. She also said she was aware of conflict between Joy and Schuppan. According to Crawford, Joy had mentioned changing her life insurance beneficiaries. Crawford described Schultz as a “liar and manipulator from the day I met him."
Next, the Commonwealth presented pictures of Joy's remains.
Dr. David Hunt, an expert in forensic anthropology, said part of her ribs were fractured. When asked by the commonwealth, Hunt said this is consistent with removing organs from the body.
Only the upper portion of Joy's face was left. In order for the face to be removed, it would have to be cut or decomposed to the point where it could be removed. Parts of both of Joy's arms were also gone.
The medical examiner testified further to Joy's state. Her abdominal cavity was missing organs, and the space was filled with mud, dirt and debris. One foot was bent backwards and there gunshot wounds throughout.
In day five, the Commonwealth presented more evidence regarding the burial site and how Joy got there.
Investigator Roy testified that the two defendants were going to bury Joy somewhere else initially but chose a different spot where she was found in Shenandoah National Park. Roy said Schultz told him it would be a nice place to bury Joy. Maps were presented showing the routes the men allegedly took to dispose of the body and evidence. According to Roy, DNA identification was difficult because of her body's decomposition.
Cook also testified saying Schultz told him that Schuppan shot Joy in the basement and that Schultz drove the car as Schuppan threw out pieces of the gun allegedly used to kill Joy.
This statement was also repeated by Schultz and Schuppan's cell mate. Each shared a cell with him at different jails. The cell mate said Schuppan would clue him in to parts of the crime using cards. They were playing a card game and he put four and five together. The cell mate testified that Schuppan told him Joy was shot with a .45 caliber gun. This was also repeated by investigator Roy, and bullets found at the body matched with that type of gun.
According to the cell mates testimony, Schuppan also said he and Schultz agreed to kill Joy for her life insurance. Cook testified that Schultz told him that Schuppan shot Joy in the basement of their home after a disagreement. Cook said Schultz told him Joy was left on the basement couch for six hours and then left in their truck for two days.
In day six, investigators and the commonwealth focused on the changing of the two men's stories over time. The jury also heard testimony from Joy's step-father. During this day, the Commonwealth rested its case and the jury attempts to strike charges.
For example, Page County Captain Kenneth McCoy said Schultz told him he signed out of witness protection, because he wanted to be with family. The ATF agent earlier testified that he was removed after trying to buy a firearm with his alias. Another example is whether Joy was dead when Schuppan arrived to the house on the day of her murder.
McCoy interviewed Schultz and was involved in the search for Joy and the gun. He spoke to how the Schultzs met, which was while they were both shopping at Walmart. They married 30-40 days after meeting, according to McCoy. Schultz told McCoy that he would not choose between his son and Joy and indicated that Schuppan was somewhat unpredictable. He and Schultz apparently had a fight where Schultz tried to stab Schuppan with a file but Schuppan was able to overpower him. Schultz told McCoy that he told Schuppan to call 911 when Joy was shot.
Leading up to the shooting, Schultz told McCoy that he overexerted himself working on a car and went in the basement with Schuppan and Joy. According to McCoy, he said there was no good reason for him to kill Joy, because he took care of her. He continuously, according to multiple testimonies, focused on how Schuppan was the "trigger man." Schultz also told Roy that Schuppan could have been sent by an outlaw gang to kill Joy in retaliation.
Bow Cook testified to the possible motive being Joy's life insurance policy.
The commonwealth presented a map showing different points where Schultz said the two dropped parts of the gun allegedly used to kill Joy. Roy said after several searches, the gun was never recovered.
Paul Dixon, Joy's stepfather of 11 years, also testified.
It was emotional in the courtroom as he talked about Joy's mother, who currently has dementia. He said she sometimes does not understand that Joy is dead. He said Joy and her mother had a close relationship.
Dixon said he saw Joy about every two weeks. When she went missing, he called Schultz to ask what was going on. He said that Joy told him she was afraid of Schuppan. This was also mentioned by her sister in testimony earlier. When deputies searched the Schultz house, George Schultz asked if he could come to the Dixon's house to stay. Dixon said, "no," because he thought he knew where Joy was. He also testified to Schultz talking about arguing with Joy after the estate sale on Sept. 6, 2014.
Dixon testified to the couple's money problems as well. He said he and his wife loaned the Schultzs about $6,000 and paid their bankruptcy proceedings.
The commonwealth rested its case, but the defense said it would need more time to be ready to present their case.
Schuppan's defense attempted to strike all four charges against Schuppan. Schultz's attorney only tried to strike the conspiracy charge. He claimed there was no evidence of planning. All strikes were denied.
The defense presented its case in day seven as each defendant took the stand and claimed the other man committed the murder.
George Schultz takes the stand first.
Schultz admits he was in a support club in Oklahoma of the Bandidos Motorcycle Gang. He was the Sergeant at Arms.
He describes his health issues which include diabetes and nerve damage which can affect the use of one of his arms. He moved to Page in 2011 and says he was asked to leave witness protection after trying to buy a gun with his alias, George Schultz. This is verified through earlier testimony from the ATF agent.
Schultz says he met Joy online but did not want to tell people so they said they met in Walmart. He says he would pick Joy up from work when he had his truck and that they did have marital problems, mainly stemming from the emotional stress of his health. In the Commonwealth's cross examination, they make a note that Joy did pay his insurance to help his health and was actively trying to help him. He and Joy did file for bankruptcy.
Schuppan moved in with Joy and George in the Summer of 2014. Schultz said Joy initially had no problem with it but asked him to leave just days after he moved in. After leaving witness protection, Schultz had tried to make contact with his children. Schultz describes Schuppan as being disrespectful to he and Joy. He discussed one instance where Joy cleaned the bathroom and Schuppan went in after and washed the dogs without cleaning up.
Schultz said he did not kill Joy, conspire to kill her or plan to kill her. He describes Sep. 6, 2014 in detail, the day she was allegedly killed. This was following the couple going to an estate sale that day and having a disagreement over buying a motorcycle. After the sale, Schultz said he got overexerted while working on a truck and went inside with Joy and Schuppan. Joy and Schuppan then got into an argument over whether Schultz should go to the hospital and then, Schultz says, Schuppan shot her.
After her death, Schultz says he decides to help his son. They wrap the body in tarps and put her in the truck.
The next day, he says, they burn some of the evidence in the burn pile and begin to throw the gun out throughout the Shenandoah Valley. This is when they first tried to bury her but decide not to.
She was in the truck for two days.
The next day, Sept. 8, is when Schultz says they bury her off of Route 33 in Shenandoah National Park. He said Schuppan mostly dug the hole. When trying to get her in the hole, her body falls down part of the mountain and bounces. When they get her in the hole, Schultz said he attempted to give her a kiss but her eyes were out of her head. Once she was buried, they then changed out of their clothes. Schultz notes that her body was intact.
In cross examination, the Commonwealth asks Schultz whether he finds it disrespectful to continue to call Joy's parents mom and dad even after he knew where she was but told them he didn't.
Schultz says Joy wanted Schuppan out. A diagram of the basement was also presented.
Schuppan testified after Schultz. He talked about his fathers previous involvement in motorcycle gangs and also said he had heard of his involvement in the KKK.
Schuppan contends he did not murder Joy but did have a part in hiding the body. He says Schultz held him at gun point to help him after Schultz allegedly murdered Joy. Schuppan says he came home and Joy was already dead in the basement. He testified that the body was intact, contrary to the mutilation described by investigators and the medical examiner. His cell mate also said that Schuppan told him he shot Joy. Schuppan did acknowledge that he and Joy had disagreements.
Schuppan says his dad took also took a 19-year-old girl out on a date to IHOP after Joy's death. Schuppan said he was also there.
During Schuppan's testimony, he is emotional at times.
The defense then brought forward their last witness, George Schuppan's mother. She claims that Schuppan called her to ask to come home after he moved to Virginia. She testified that she had apprehension for him coming to meet his father. The Commonwealth brings this up as a point that Schuppan had an opportunity to leave. As a child, Schuppan's mother, stated he had childhood depression that could have been from the absence of a father figure. The Commonwealth brought up an interview she did with investigators where she told them that Schultz was "a evil man."
The defense then rested their case. No rebuttal evidence was presented by the Commonwealth and all motions to strike from the defense were denied.
Closing arguments are presented and the jury reaches a verdict
The Commonwealth's attorney focuses on what he describes as "lies" in the two defendants' stories and also claims that the stories just do not make sense. His argument is that Schultz and Schuppan worked together to murder Joy. He claims that the biggest lie for Schuppan was saying he was afraid of his dad, especially considering all of the weapons and protections he had at his disposal. The Commonwealth says that Schuppan says initially that he doesn't know about Joy's life insurance but tells his cell mate nearly the exact amount of the policy.
Commonwealth Attorney Alger calls Joy's death "butchery," matched with a picture of her dead body. He claims the basement was cleaned so heavily because the two men removed her organs there.
Alger says they set up the murder to look like it was biker gang hit in some form. According to Alger, that plan went wrong: the the police came too soon, the clean up was more difficult than expected and it was "semi-organized chaos."
He notes that Joy would have been 53 on Sunday, Oct. 25.
Schultz's attorney then presented his closing argument. He claimed that Schuppan killed Joy and that insurance money had nothing to do with it.
Schuppan's defense attorney made the last closing argument stating that Schuppan did not kill Joy but helped his father conceal the body because of a "misplaced devotion."
The attorney also claims that the mutilation of the body did not happen in the basement. He touched on the testimony from the forensic anthropologist who mentioned that it would take 5-7 days for the face to be removed without tools because of decomposition.
In rebuttal, the Commonwealth, made a note that the testimony was in regards to removing the face without the tools.
Schuppan's attorney say the crime was committed for insurance but not by Schuppan. The Commonwealth suggests that the two worked together to remove Joy's organ and fill her body with dirt to make sure the body stayed in place to be found and then get the insurance money.
In the Commonwealth's rebuttal, it touched on how Schultz had a neuropathy attack (leading to him not feeling well) which caused he, Schuppan and Joy to be in the basement before the shooting. The Commonwealth argues that this was a ploy to lure her in.
The jury then left for deliberation.
After roughly two hours, the jury returned with a verdict for both men: guilty of all charges.
Following sentencing deliberations by the jury, both men were sentenced to life in prison with a $100,000 fine just for first degree murder.
The rest of the convictions were: conspiring to commit murder (10 years in prison); unlawfully transporting, secreting, concealing or altering a dead body (5 years); use of a firearm in the commission of a felony (3 years).