SALT LAKE CITY — In a case that prosecutors say was aided by a DNA database, charges were filed Friday against a Florida man in the 1977 killing of a 16-year-old Salt Lake girl.
Patrick Michael McCabe, 59, of Bell, Florida, is charged in 3rd District Court with the equivalent of aggravated murder, which is a first-degree felony and capital offense, as well as aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary, both first-degree felonies.
Prosecutors believe McCabe, 20 years old at the time, raped and murdered 16-year-old Sharon Schollmeyer on Dec. 5, 1977. Schollmeyer's body was found in a bathtub in her apartment at 125 E. First Ave, where McCabe was the apartment manager at the time, according to court documents.
Schollmeyer's mother, Sally Kadleck, said Thursday that she remembers McCabe letting her into the apartment where she discovered her daughter's body. Kadleck had grown concerned after receiving a call that Schollmeyer didn't show up for work that day and was there to check on her.
"What kind of guts he had," Kadleck said. "I mean, really he knew what he had done and yet he went ahead and let me in."
Court documents agree with Kadleck's account, saying she contacted McCabe after finding that Schollmeyer's apartment was locked and getting no answer at the door. There was no sign of forced entry.
Police reported in 1977 that Schollmeyer was found in six inches of water in the bathtub with a halter top used as a gag in her mouth and a scarf tied around her head and covering her nose and eyes. Pieces of rope were also in the tub and a butcher's knife was found on the bath mat, court documents say.
The halter top was submitted for DNA testing in 2013, and the resulting DNA profile was submitted to the FBI's Combined DNA Index System database last year. The database matched that DNA profile with McCabe's name in December, according to an affidavit filed in 3rd District Court.
Salt Lake City police funded their pursuit of the evidence in McCabe's case in part by using a cold case DNA grant from the National Institute of Justice, said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.
Court documents allege McCabe admitted to authorities in Florida that he used his apartment manager key to get into Schollmeyer's apartment late at night. He picked up a knife from inside the apartment and went into the teen's bedroom, where he found her asleep, the charges state.
"McCabe used the knife to gain Ms. Schollmeyer's compliance while tying her up and raping her," court documents say.
McCabe then took Schollmeyer to the bathtub, where he "strangled her and held her head under water," the charges allege. An autopsy performed on the girl concluded she died from "strangulation and suffocation." "Ligature imprints" were also discovered on her left wrist, court documents say.
McCabe is being held in jail in Florida after Salt Lake City police officers assisted in arresting him at his home, Gill said. Prosecutors are seeking to extradite him to Utah.
McCabe's criminal history in Florida includes a sexual offense against a minor in 1999 for which he served time in prison, court documents indicate.
McCabe's official homicide charge in 3rd District Court is "murder in the first degree," which was the statutory definition that applied to the alleged killing under Utah law in 1977. An initial court date has yet to be scheduled.
"Today’s charges and this arrest are a significant step toward justice for the alleged victim, her family and the community in this nearly 40-year-old case," Gill said.