The Broken Chain

We little knew that morning,
God was going to call your name,
In life we loved you dearly,
In death we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you,
You did not go alone,
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.

You left us beautiful memories,
Your love is still our guide,
And though we cannot see you,
You are always at our side.

Our family chain is broken,
And nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.

Author unknown

- In Loving Memory Of -

William Schwartz, 88
Claudia Schwartz, 50

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Father, Daughter Found Dead In NE Minneapolis
Relative Found Broken Window, Called Police Who Made Discovery
DATE: April 18, 2003

As coroners readied Friday to try and determine how an 88-year-old man and his 50-year-old disabled daughter died in their northeast Minneapolis home, police said they are investigating the case as a double homicide. The deaths, discovered when a relative knocked on the door and got no answer and saw a broken window on the back door, stunned the neighborhood. "They were great people," neighbor Donna Moen told KSTP-TV. "They would come into McDonald's about three, four times a day seven days a week." Police did not release the names of the two people, but friends identified them as William Schwartz and Claudia Schwartz. The television station said police reviewed the videotape from a nearby security camera but didn't comment on any findings.

Minneapolis police confirm the Long Prairie suspects are connected to a double-homicide
DATE: May 1, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS - Shortly after authorities in Long Prairie announced a link between a triple homicide in that city and a double homicide in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis police chief commented on the developments in the case. Police Chief Robert Olson confirmed that Earl and Carpenter were also suspects in the robbery and killings of an elderly man and his adult daughter. In that case, William Schwartz, 88, and Claudia Schwartz, 50, were found dead April 17 in their northeast Minneapolis home. Olson said they had been severely beaten and stabbed and their throats slashed. The father was in frail health; his daughter was paralyzed on her right side and neighbors said she had epilepsy. Olson said robbery appeared to be the motive in both cases and the crime scenes were similar. "The bottom line here is money," he said. Police believe the cash taken from the Schwartz home included a number of rare old silver dollars and Kennedy half dollars. Coins of that type were taken in at a bank in Plymouth but police had not yet examined them, Olson said. A tip to police led to the suspects. Minneapolis police said they arrested the two men about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at a house in northeast Minneapolis. Olson said both of the men tried to pull weapons on the officers, but they were subdued without shots being fired. As far as Minneapolis police know, the suspects had only minor crimes on their records, Olson said. Both also were known drug users, he added. Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said the suspects would appear first in court in Long Prairie, giving investigators in Minneapolis more time to work up their case before charges are filed in the Schwartz slayings.

Two charged in Minnesota murder spree
DATE: May 2, 2003

LONG PRAIRIE - After two Twin Cities men - their faces bruised and cut - appeared in court to face murder charges, residents in this small town finally had an answer: Who could have bound and killed a mother and her two teenage children? But now there are new questions: How and why the men, with only small offenses in their criminal histories, could be accused of a rampage that left five people brutally killed in 12 days? On Thursday, authorities charged the men with second-degree murder in the killings of Holly Chromey, 49, and her children, Katie Zapzalka, 18, and Jerrod Zapzalka, 16. Their bodies were found Monday night, beaten and stabbed, in their Long Prairie home. About 100 miles away in Minneapolis, authorities also plan to charge Christopher Earl, 20, and Jonathan Carpenter, 21, in the deaths of an elderly man and his disabled daughter who were found dead in their home two weeks ago. In both cases, police said, the victims were apparently selected at random and brutally killed during robberies. "There was no reason for them to die," said Amber Carlier, 19, a high school classmate of Katie's who attended Thursday's court hearing to see "the last faces that they saw." Residents of Long Prairie live with their doors unlocked and car windows rolled down. But when the bodies of Chromey and the Zapzalkas were found, a new sense of fear crept into the town of 3,000 in the middle of Minnesota. All were relieved that one of their own hasn't emerged as a suspect in the crimes. Amanda LeNore, 18, a friend of Katie's, could barely speak after a morning news conference where authorities announced the charges. "At first when we heard this we thought that it was somebody we know, that would have been horrible, but to think that is a random act ... " said LeNore, her voice trailing off as she began crying. "This is terrible," said Richard Geis, 57, who has lived here 14 years. "It shakes the whole town up. You tend to lock your doors. ... It will affect us for a while. We will have bad memories." Investigators believe the three were asleep when the suspects broke in. They were beaten and stabbed, and bound with electrical tape, Chromey and Jerrod struggled to free themselves before they were killed, according to a criminal complaint and authorities. "This appears to be a random, senseless act of violence," Long Prairie Police Chief Chuck Eldred said. Todd County Attorney Gaylord Saetre said he would ask a grand jury for first-degree murder indictments. Bail was set at $3 million each for Earl and Carpenter, who both asked for a court-appointed attorney. Their next court date was set for May 12. Asked in court if he had anything to say, Earl said he just wanted to go free so he could get his own attorney to "help me prove my innocence." Earl, of Brooklyn Park, was polite and sat up straight and faced District Judge Sally Robertson during the hearing. Carpenter, of Minneapolis, slouched in his seat and appeared defiant. "I'm not guilty until proven guilty, right?" Carpenter asked the judge. About 70 spectators filled the courtroom while others had to wait outside. According to the complaint, Earl admitted to investigators that he and Carpenter killed the Long Prairie family while burglarizing their home. Earl told officers he and Carpenter had no prior relationship with their victims. Asked about the discrepancy between Earl's claim of innocence in court and what he allegedly told investigators, Dave Bjerga of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension replied: "He's putting a different spin on who did what." While Long Prairie police discussed details of the killings there, Minneapolis police held a news conference of their own to accuse Earl and Carpenter in the April 17 killings of William Schwartz, 88, and his daughter, Claudia Schwartz, 50, who were found dead in their northeast Minneapolis home. Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson said the Schwartzes had been severely beaten and stabbed and their throats slashed. The father was in frail health; his daughter was paralyzed on her right side and neighbors said she had epilepsy. Police believe the cash taken from the Schwartz home included rare coins. Olson said a bank in Plymouth reported receiving several coins that appeared similar, but they had not yet been examined. "The bottom line here is money," Olson told reporters in Minneapolis. Neither Eldred nor the complaint said what might have been stolen from the Long Prairie home. Until Brooklyn Park police received a tip, nothing had pointed investigators to the suspects, who were arrested about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at a house in northeast Minneapolis not far from the Schwartz home. Olson said both of the men tried to pull guns on the officers, but they were subdued without shots being fired. The guns in their possession appeared to have been stolen from Becker County, and police were investigating whether the men may have been involved in other crimes in Minnesota. Back in Long Prairie, police tape and sheriff's deputies kept residents away from the family's house. Mourners left flowers and posters with pictures of Katie in a neighbor's yard. As for punishment of the killers, Shannon Allord, 21, a friend of Katie Zapzalka, said: "They deserve the same treatment they gave an innocent family."

Suspect admitted Long Prairie killings to girlfriend Watch video
DATE: May 8, 2003

LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. - Two men accused of robbing and slaying three members of a Long Prairie family killed them to eliminate witnesses, court documents suggest. Christopher Earl and Jonathan Carpenter are charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of Hollis Chromey and her children, Katie Zapzalka, 18, and Jerrod Zapzalka, 16. Investigators believe the two men were after gas money. A search warrant affidavit sheds new light on what authorities believe happened in the family's home April 28. Earl's girlfriend, Lisa M. Madison, told investigators that Earl said that he and Carpenter used a hammer in the killings and then left it by a door. Police found a bloodied maul just inside the front door. Earl told Madison that the victims said they had just moved into their house and didn't have anything, according to the court document. The two men talked about the possibility that they might be identified by Chromey and her children, so they chose to kill them, Madison told investigators. All three victims had their throats slit and were struck with the hammer, the document said. Evidence from the scene also indicates that two of the victims - apparently Chromey and her son - were bound with duct tape and electrical tape and struggled in an attempt to free themselves before they suffered fatal injuries, it said. The document was filed as part of the search of Earl's car and released Wednesday. Among the things investigators found when they searched it were ammunition, Canadian and Minnesota road maps and jewelry. Earl also gave details to investigators that could only be known to someone involved with the crime, the document said. Long Prairie Police Chief Chuck Eldred and Todd County Sheriff David Kircher declined to comment on the new details. "We're trying to respect the family," Kircher said. "It could be harmful to the family to hear some of these details." Dave Bjerga, a special agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, also declined to talk about what happened in the house. "It's so focal to the grand jury," he said. Prosecutors plan to ask a grand jury to indict the men for first-degree murder. Earl, 20, of Brooklyn Park, and Carpenter, 21, of Minneapolis, are also being investigated in the slayings of William Schwartz, 88, and his daughter Claudia, 50, who were stabbed and beaten last month in their northeast Minneapolis home. Tim Brand, Earl's stepfather, said his son told him that he witnessed the killing of the people in Long Prairie but that he did not do it himself. "He said he was guilty of the burglary, the robbery, but he did not kill anybody, and I believe him 100 percent," Brand said. "He witnessed something very brutal. He has a lot of remorse for the families and victims." Brand also said his son told him he was not involved in the Minneapolis deaths.

Charges filed in Schwartz slayings
Police complaint details brutal nature of crime
DATE: May 10, 2003

Jonathan Carpenter broke the back-door window to the small house in northeast Minneapolis and told his buddy Christopher Earl to come in. Hours earlier, Carpenter was alone when he killed the home's residents William Schwartz, 88, and his 50-year-old daughter, Claudia, according to charges filed Friday. Their bodies, beaten with their throats slit, still lay face down in blood in the house, with bags full of money, coins and jewelry nearby. The criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court gives a version of events based on interviews police said they conducted with the men, who also are charged in the slayings of a mother and her two teenage children in Long Prairie, Minn. According to the complaint, Earl didn't know what he would see when Carpenter led him into the house in the 1600 block of NE. Main St. But he helped Carpenter load the bags into a car, and they drove to a Brooklyn Park hotel to divide the property, the charges said. Why Carpenter burglarized the Schwartz home on April 15 - apparently choosing it at random - and killed the father and daughter remains a mystery. Authorities have said that two weeks later, they broke into the Long Prairie home of Hollis Chromey and her children for gas money. The men told police they slit the victims' throats in Long Prairie so the family couldn't identify them, according to court documents. Said Everett Giles, Carpenter's father: "If he confessed to the crimes, all I can do is throw my hands up in the air and tell the families how sorry I am. If I could take their place, I would. But God doesn't work like that." The five killings were linked after an acquaintance of Earl's walked into the Brooklyn Park Police Department on April 30 and gave investigators information that would only be known by the suspects. Carpenter and Earl were arrested that day at Giles' home, four blocks from the Schwartz home. "It just sickens me to realize the pain and torment that he put my dad and Claudia through," said Pamela Schwartz. Friday's complaint charges Carpenter, 21, with four counts of first-degree murder and Earl, 20, with four counts of being an accomplice to murder. The six-page complaint describes the Minneapolis killings this way: William and Claudia Schwartz were last seen eating lunch at a senior center April 15. Earl told investigators that he was in a car with Carpenter and two women that evening when Carpenter said he had to pick up some money and directed the driver to northeast Minneapolis. Earl and Carpenter broke into the Schwartz home, took the bags of property and went to the hotel. The bags had jewelry and thousands of dollars in cash, and strong boxes with coins and personal papers. Relatives said William Schwartz kept cash in a file cabinet and strong boxes under his bed. The bodies were discovered two days later, after a relative noticed the broken back door window. Carpenter told investigators that he killed them by himself. A few days later, the suspects went to property formerly owned by one of the men's relatives in Grass Lake Township in Kanabec County. They burned clothing and tossed the strong boxes into the fire. Earl said he gave some of the jewelry to his girlfriend and bought a Ford Crown Victoria. Earl and Carpenter were scheduled to appear in court Monday in Todd County, where they are being held in lieu of $3 million bail on charges in the Long Prairie slayings. "We will work as a united front in the prosecution of these cases," said Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar. "Evidence relevant in the Minneapolis case is relevant in the Long Prairie case." Police are investigating whether the women who were with Earl and Carpenter the day the Schwartzes died had a role in the killings, Klobuchar said. Oftentimes people are slain in Minneapolis because they are involved in lifestyles that put them at risk, said police Capt. Mike Martin. When a case involves innocent victims such as the Schwartzes, it puts fear into a community, he said. Earl and Carpenter have also been linked to a home invasion in Brooklyn Park on April 6 and the theft of guns and jewelry from the home of Carpenter's former girlfriend near Detroit Lakes, Minn., on April 29, the day after they allegedly killed Chromey, 49, and her two children - Katie Zapzalka, 18, and Jerrod Zapzalka, 16. Investigators are reexamining the death of a Maple Grove woman, but they don't have any evidence connecting the men to her death. Police in Florida have also called the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to ask about some unsolved crimes. Giles, Carpenter's father, said that he talked with him and that the son asked about his two children and girlfriends but he never said, "Pop, I killed these people." Meanwhile, a sense of relief came over Earl's father when he learned that his son wasn't charged with murder in the Schwartz case. Rob Reynolds said that his sister talked with Earl last weekend and that he told her he didn't know what he was walking into when Carpenter took him to Schwartzes' house. "He threatened to kill Chris if he said anything about the murders," Reynolds said. "He was scared to death of him." He said he hadn't talked with his son since he was in jail because he didn't believe Earl was involved in the killings, but he plans to visit him this weekend. Reynolds said he had heard his son and Carpenter met while in a juvenile detention center, but Reynolds said he never knew about Carpenter until a couple of months ago. Earl came over to his house several times between the killings, he said. When Carpenter visited, Earl "wouldn't let his 2-year-old half-brother near him," Reynolds said. "I wish he could have said something to me and I could have helped, but Carpenter stuck to him like glue." Daughter grieves Pamela Schwartz, the daughter of homicide victim William Schwartz, wrote a statement in reaction to the deaths of her father and her sister Claudia. Excerpts follow: "Imagine yourself almost deaf and suddenly an evil man confronts you in your own home. You're not out in the wrong part of town, at a bad hour or even hanging with the wrong crowd. You're just sitting in your recliner," she wrote. "Now remember you're 88 years old, long past your fighting years, but your wisdom tells you you're engulfed in danger. Danger you may not come out of. The sheer terror racing through your body, knowing that you can't even protect yourself, let alone your vulnerable daughter. A daughter you've been able to protect her whole life. A daughter who has depended on you. After all, you're dad. And dad always comes through. That is, until now." She wrote that Claudia Schwartz suffered through a bout of meningitis when she was a toddler and was mentally retarded. "Claudia just turned 50, she embraced it," Pamela Schwartz wrote. "She loved her birthday and loved getting cards and presents." She said Claudia was paralyzed on her right side and couldn't have run away. She wore a brace and was prone to stumbling. "And he would always be there to get her up," she wrote. "How could a coward be doing this? How could a coward be so inhumane?"

Exclusive First Interview With Accused Killer Jonathon Carpenter
DATE: May 22, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS -- Accused killer Jonathon Carpenter spoke for the first time yesterday in an exclusive interview with WCCO-TV's investigative reporter David Schechter. Carpenter's revealing interview brought some relief to neighbors and friends of the victims. Carpenter is charged in a gruesome killing spree that ran from Minneapolis to Todd County earlier this spring. Carpenter and Christopher Earl are accused of killing William Schwartz and his daughter Claudia in northeast Minneapolis, and then Holly Chromey and her two teenage children in Long Prairie. Schechter conducted the interview with Carpenter yesterday in the Long Prairie jail. In the course of the interview Carpenter talked about his addiction to methamphetamines -- drugs he says kept him from sleeping for up to nine days at a time. He also told WCCO 4 News how that led him to psychotic behavior over the past few months. Carpenter apologized to the families of the five alleged murder victims. He also said he's sorry for the pain he's caused his family and two children. The five murders have been described by police as random robberies. Carpenter's admissions were received with some relief by neighbors of the Schwartzes and friends of Chromey's daughter, Katie Zapzalka, who were glad to know that Carpenter took responsibility for his actions. Schechter had been following the case since the initial killings and was invited by Carpenter yesterday to come to Long Prairie to hear his side of the story.

Possible New Charges In Crime Spree
DATE: July 1, 2003

The WCCO-TV I-Team has learned new charges could be filed against two men accused of killing 5 Minnesotans during a murder spree three months ago. The possible charges stem from an armed robbery that happened just before the killing began. The charges could also link the pair to a new partner in crime. The I-Team has already linked Jonathan Carpenter and Christopher Earl to two unsolved crimes in Brooklyn Park: the robbery of a gas station, and an armed home invasion. But now, the I-Team has also learned the Hennepin County Attorney's office is reviewing charges in the home invasion case against Carpenter, Earl, and a convicted sex offender. Hands and feet bound, heads covered. A man and his wife, who did not want to be identified, were robbed in their home at gunpoint. "They did threaten," said one of the victims. "Both with cutting parts of the body. And with shooting." Previously, the I-Team connected Carpenter and Earl to the home invasion by tracking down a stolen opal ring taken during the robbery. Then, last week on the phone, Carpenter confessed to the crime. Now, the I-Team has learned that the Hennepin County Attorney is reviewing whether to bring charges against Carpenter, Earl and convicted child molester Tom Rigoli. Sources say he was the getaway driver for the Brooklyn Park home invasion that took place just weeks before five Minnesotans were brutally murdered in their homes. "I know we were at risk," said one of the victims of the home invasion. "But I didn't know to the degree of risk that is now apparent." And the I-Team has also learned that a woman, also in the getaway car, may also be charged in this case. Rigoli is currently in jail for a parole violation. Last week, Carpenter pled guilty in the Long Prairie murders of Holly Chromey, and her children Katie and Jared Zapzalka. He told WCCO he plans to plead guilty in the Northeast Minneapolis murders of William Schwartz and his daughter Claudia. Christopher Earl is still facing trial.

Minn. Man Apparently Kills Self in Prison
DATE: July 11, 2003

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - A man who admitted killing five people, including a family of three during a random robbery, apparently hanged himself in prison because he couldn't live with what he had done, authorities and relatives said Friday.  Jonathan Carpenter, 21, pleaded guilty last month to three killings in Long Prairie and confessed to two in Minneapolis. Officials at the state prison in St. Cloud told the Sherburne County sheriff that Carpenter hanged himself in his cell Thursday night and efforts to revive him failed, Sheriff Bruce Anderson said. Guards conducting regular rounds around 10:30 p.m. and 10:55 p.m. saw Carpenter writing something. Around 11:20 p.m. they found him hanging from bed linens tied to the bars of his cell, Anderson said. "A suicide note was found in the cell and all indications from the ongoing investigation into Carpenter's death point to suicide," Anderson said.  His mother, Sandra Carpenter, said he had been depressed and couldn't live with what he did. The Corrections Department issued a statement saying no foul play was suspected but an autopsy would be performed. Carpenter, from Minneapolis, was sentenced to three life terms without parole for the April 28 killings of Holly Chromey, 49, and her children, Katie Zapzalka, 18, and Jerrod Zapzalka, 16. Carpenter said he and Christopher Earl, 20, of Brooklyn Park, broke into the family's Long Prairie home at random. When he entered his plea June 24, Carpenter said the two were looking for gas money and picked Chromey's house because it was unlocked. Murder charges were still pending against Carpenter in the April 17 beating and stabbing deaths of William Schwartz, 88, and his 50-year-old daughter, Claudia, in northeast Minneapolis. Carpenter had confessed to those killings, too. "It's been a very horrendous three months," Sandra Carpenter said. "I talked to my son on Tuesday night and he couldn't live with what he did. It was just too horrendous for even him. And he had a great sorrow for the people and his family." Earl is charged with being an accomplice to murder in the Minneapolis case. He faces trial in both cases.

Carpenter: Murder-For-Hire Plot Drew Him To Long Prairie
DATE: Jul 14, 2003

Minneapolis - Before he committed suicide in prison last week, Jonathan Carpenter told WCCO-TV that he and a friend ended up in Long Prairie as part of a murder-for-hire plot targeting someone other than the three people he says they killed. Carpenter told the station in an interview last Wednesday, the day before he hanged himself in prison, that he and friend Christopher Earl went to Long Prairie April 28 because a Brooklyn Park woman they knew had asked them to kill her mother, who lived there. "She asked us to take care of business. She says she's got a grudge against her mom, and she wants us to do her a favor, on Mother's Day, really." Asked what kind of favor, Carpenter replied: "Like go in the house. Either rob her, or hurt her in some way. Or kill her. She was like, 'It would be best off if she ended up dead.' That was her exact words." The 33-year-old woman is a neighbor of Earl's family in Brooklyn Park, WCCO said. Carpenter told the station he and Earl met with the woman three weeks before the Long Prairie killings of Holly Chromey, and her two children, Katie Zapzalka, 18, and Jarrod Zapzalka, 16. When he pleaded guilty to three murder charges June 24, Carpenter told the court the woman had "basically hired us for a hit" on her mother, and that she told them she'd collect the insurance money, and he and Earl could have whatever they stole. Carpenter told WCCO he didn't take the request seriously at first. "At first, not all serious," he said. "I thought it was jokingly, when Chris brought it to me. But then when we sat down and talked to her about it, and she handed me the address. Then it got pretty serious. Got real serious. That's when I started believing she'd wanted it done." Carpenter had confessed to investigators and WCCO earlier that a few weeks after his conversation with the woman, he killed William Schwartz, 88, and his daughter Claudia, 50, in their northeast Minneapolis home. Carpenter had said he killed them alone and that Earl later helped him burglarize the house. To lay low, Carpenter said, he and Earl went on a road trip west to a friend's house near Detroit Lakes, and on the way saw a sign for Long Prairie. "Chris wakes up and he's like, 'Hey, Long Prairie's right over there.' Cause he's looking at the map. He's like, 'You want to go do that?' I'm like, 'Yeah, whatever.' Then we decided we weren't going to kill her. We were just going to go and rob her," Carpenter said. Carpenter said he and Earl searched for the address that the woman had written down, which he'd kept in his wallet, but they couldn't find the house. He said they gave up after an hour of looking. Carpenter also told WCCO they tried seven or eight doors before they found the door to Chromey's house unlocked. When there was nothing to steal, Carpenter raped Katie Zapzalka, and then killed her. He said it was Earl who killed Katie's mother and brother. The Brooklyn Park woman has not been charged with anything, but the matter is being investigated, Todd County Sheriff David Kircher said Monday. Asked about Carpenter's allegations that she hired them to kill her mother, the woman told WCCO-TV: "I don't know what you're talking about. ... No comment." Carpenter told WCCO he took responsibility for his actions and was sorry for what he did. He also said he was sorry he had ever met the woman. "I knew her through Chris. And I trusted her because Chris said, 'Trust her.' Which was a mistake," he said. Earl is charged with murder in the Long Prairie killings and is charged with being an accomplice to murder in the Minneapolis case. He has not entered pleas in either case. Earl has a pretrial hearing in Long Prairie scheduled for Aug. 4. Earl's attorney, Ruth Lee, said Monday that she hadn't had a chance to discuss Carpenter's statements with Earl, but that Earl maintains his innocence. "Jonathan's interpretations of the events are a lot different than Mr. Earl's, and I think I'll just leave it at that," Lee said.

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