Kathleen and Carl Schroll were found dead in their home early on April 7, 2008. Carl Schroll had been shot twice in the chest and Kathleen Schroll had been shot once in the back of the head. Just before their deaths, Kathleen Schroll’s mother, Elizabeth Horton, told authorities her daughter caller her and said Olin “Pete” Coones Jr. was in their home and had threatened to kill them both.
Authorities responded to the home after Kathleen Schroll’s family called 911 and the Kansas City Police charged Coones after speaking with Horton about the phone call, the National Registry of Exonerations wrote. Coones was convicted at trial and sentenced to 25 years to life, but his attorneys continued to fight his conviction until November 2020, 12 years later, when Coones was exonerated.
According to the outlet, his legal team successfully argued that Kathleen Schroll, who was facing major debt, a legal battle with Coones over his father’s inheritance, and who was likely to be charged with embezzlement, killed her husband and then committed suicide but staged their deaths to frame Coones for double homicide.
Kathleen Schroll Called Her Family & Said Pete Coones Was in Their Home & Threatening to Kill Them
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Just after 2 a.m. on April 7, 2008, Kathleen Schroll shot and killed her husband Carl Schroll and then called her mother, saying that Coones was in their house and had threatened to kill them both, before disconnecting the call. Authorities arrived shortly after and found Kathleen Schroll dead of a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Carl Schroll had two gunshot wounds to the chest, court documents showed.
Kathleen Schroll’s mother Elizabeth Horton testified that during her call, Kathleen Schroll said Coones was “in the house and he said he is going to kill Carl. He said he is going to kill me, and he said he has his tracks covered so no one else will know who did it.” The State argued that Coones’ motive was that he was angry with Kathleen Schroll over their dispute regarding his father’s inheritance.
It wasn’t until November 2020 that Coones was able to get exonerated as his legal team showed that the deaths occurred as part of a murder-suicide planned by Kathleen Schroll.
Investigators Found There Was No DNA or Gunshot Residue Tying Coones to the Crime Scene
The gun, which belonged to Kathleen Schroll, was found near her hand and her DNA was found on the trigger. Authorities also did not find any indications of forced entry or a struggle, the Midwest Innocence Project reported.
Notable for Coones’ conviction to be overturned was his alibi as the Kansas man was at home with his family the evening of the crime. He was seen by his family a few times during the evening and they testified that he could not leave the house without them seeing him. His car was also boxed in by other vehicles, the Midwest Innocence Project wrote.
Authorities also searched Coones’ home and found no evidence, either gunshot residue, bloody clothes or guns, and did not find a lawnmower that Kathleen Schroll said in her call to her family that he’d taken. Officers were unable to find any evidence linking Coones to the crime scene, the National Registry of Exonerations wrote.