This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Forty years after a man raped and killed 16-year-old Sharon Lecia Schollmeyer in her Salt Lake City apartment, her family watched as a judge sentenced him to serve 10 years to life in the Utah State Prison.
While family members were "satisfied" with court proceedings, they said the disturbing details of what then-20-year-old Patrick Michael McCabe did to their loved one had left them living under a dark cloud for decades. The sun had only begun to shine through in December when McCabe's DNA was matched with evidence at the crime scene and he subsequently confessed to police, they said.
McCabe, now 60, of Bell, Fla., pleaded guilty in April to murder as well as aggravated burglary, both first-degree felonies.
On Wednesday, 3rd District Judge Paul Parker sentenced McCabe to serve two consecutive prison terms of five years to life, a condition of a plea agreement between prosecutors and McCabe's defense attorney though Parker noted he would have imposed the sentence anyway.
The plea deal included dismissing a charge of aggravated sexual assault and spared McCabe the possibility of a death sentence by allowing him to enter a guilty plea to murder in the second degree, rather than murder in the first degree, a capital offense.
"We don't want the death penalty," Schollmeyer's younger sister Brigett Love told the judge. "We just want to make sure [McCabe] is not in a position to hurt another person."
Weeks before Schollmeyer was murdered, she had been robbed, and McCabe, the building manager at 125 E. 1st Avenue, had changed her locks and kept a key for himself, Love said. He should have felt responsible to keep the emancipated teen, who lived alone, safe, Love said, but instead he put her in danger.
Deputy Salt Lake District Attorney Matthew Janzen said the night of the murder, McCabe had come home thinking about sexual fantasies. His own girlfriend was asleep, so he took the key to Schollmeyer's apartment and broke into her house. He took a knife from her kitchen, Janzen said, woke her up and raped her.
"He said when he realized what he had done, he had to kill her," Love told the court. "He had more than a full day" to process what he'd done before letting Schollmeyer's mother, Sally Kadleck, into the apartment, knowing she would find her daughter's "tortured, lifeless body."
On Dec. 5, 1977, McCabe waited in the living room while Kadleck searched the rest of the apartment. She found Shollmeyer's naked body in the bathtub in 6 inches of water. She had been blindfolded with a scarf and gagged with a halter top.
"I cannot even fathom what kind of psychopath could [do that]," Kadleck told the court, remembering how McCabe had pretended to be innocent and called police for her.
Kadleck grew emotional as she spoke of the adventurous spirit of her deceased daughter, noting it was a "liberal time in the country" that made the girl believe she could do anything.
The "healthy, beautiful, clever" girl left home at age 15 and secured a job and an apartment while lying about her age. Though Kadleck didn't want her daughter to be so independent, she decided to support the teen, rather than alienate her.
The Saturday before Schollmeyer died, Kadleck had taken her apartment hunting because the teen didn't feel comfortable with the other tenants in the 1st Avenue complex. Schollmeyer, however, decided to wait a few months to move until her lease was up so she could use money she'd get back from the deposit to go someplace new.
When she didn't show up for work on Monday, Schollmeyer's boss called Kadleck, who went to the apartment.
McCabe "has had, essentially, 40 years of life that Lecia [Schollmeyer] never had," Janzen told the judge.
Both Love and Parker said they appreciated that McCabe pleaded guilty, did not hold back details and did not attempt to blame the victim.
Love said she believed that McCabe was sorry, both because he'd killed her sister and because he gotten caught.
In 2013, detectives working on the case submitted for DNA testing the halter top used to gag Schollmeyer. A national database matched DNA from the halter top to McCabe, who was living in Bell, Fla., in December 2016. McCabe's DNA was in the system from a 1999 sexual offense involving a minor, according to court records.
"It bothers me a lot that you are not being charged with rape," Love added, addressing McCabe. "You get away with rape because you murdered her."
She said the man, who was in a wheelchair Wednesday, looked "broken."
McCabe declined to comment in the court Wednesday, but Parker read a letter penned by the man in April.
There were "no words strong enough" to express the remorse McCabe felt, the defendant wrote. "I cannot give you back what I have taken from this Earth. I wish I could."
McCabe wrote that he hoped his confession "can give [the family] some peace in your lives."
Parker noted that after so many years, "although we talk about [the crime] in almost cold fashion, that cannot take away the terror that [the victim] would have felt that night."
Committing a crime to cover up another crime is a "terrible" thing, Parker said, and it makes what McCabe did "much, much worse."