Thomas Schiro was sentenced to death in October 1981 for the murder and rape of 28-year-old Laura Luebbehusen. But on Jan. 7, he was released from prison in Evansville, Indiana, on a supervised one-year parole program.
At the time of the murder, Schiro, then 20, was living in a halfway house in Luebbehusen’s neighborhood, according to WEHT.
In February 1981, he entered her home by saying he had car trouble and needed to use the phone.
Schiro then raped Luebbehusen several times before hitting her in the head and strangling her, police said, according to WEHT.
He then sexually abused her body posthumously.
According to WEHT, it was one of Evansville’s most high profile murders.
Schiro had originally been sentenced to death in 1981 for his alleged crimes. But the Supreme Court of Indiana overturned the ruling in August 1996, according to Justia.
The Court determined that the judge had overstepped by not listening to the jury’s recommendation that Schiro not get the death penalty, WEHT reported.
The sentence was reversed, and Schiro received a 60-year prison sentence instead.
According to a 2005 article from 14 News, Schiro was suspected of other crimes before Luebbehusen’s murder, but when he was given the death sentence in 1981, police stopped investigating.
It was not until his sentence was reversed that police began re-investigating old cases.
One woman was asleep in bed with her ten-year-old daughter when she awoke to Schiro leaning over them.
“My daughter and myself were asleep in bed, and the next thing I know someone is leaning beside my bed and woke me up. He put something over my face and said, ‘Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me,'” the woman reportedly said.
“And then he made me go into the living room, and that’s where he raped me … He told my daughter at ten-years-old that if she didn’t quit, begging him not to hurt me, that he was going to kill me,” the woman said.
Jon Schaefer of Warrick County Prosecutor’s Office, who had defended Schiro in 2021 for an unrelated case, commented on Schiro’s release.
“In a normal case where you prosecute the guy,” Schaefer said, WEHT reported. “He gets sentenced. He gets a specific sentence, 60 years let’s say, and he’s coming up on getting released. I think, okay, you don’t have a really valid point to come in and say, ‘Well, yeah he got 60 years, but it was a really terrible crime, so he shouldn’t be released.’ That’s the due process argument.
“But I think in this situation, it’s a little different. I can see the other side, they expected him to get the death penalty, therefore he isn’t going to be released,” Shaefer said.
Schiro’s parole will end in January 2024 if he does not commit any violations.
According to the Indiana Department of Correction, he now lives in Vanderburgh County, Indiana, but his exact location is not known.
WEHT apparently tried to reach out to several people associated with the case.
While most declined to comment, one anonymous source said they feared for their own safety. They do not believe Schiro has changed, and they expect something bad to happen now that he is free.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.