Olin “Pete” Coones was arrested and charged with the murder of Kathleen Schroll, who was found dead alongside her husband Carl Schroll in Kansas City, Kansas, on April 7, 2008. A few minutes before, Kathleen Schroll had called her family, not 911, to say that Coones was in their home and had threatened to kill them both.
Kathleen Schroll was the housekeeper of Coones’ late father and the two had been involved in a legal dispute over the inheritance and life insurance after Coones’ father’s death. After authorities found the Schrolls dead in their home and spoke to Schroll’s family, they charged Coones.
He was acquitted of Carl Schroll’s murder but convicted of Kathleen’s and sentenced to 25 years to life. What happened to Olin “Pete” Coones? Where is he today?
Coones Was Found to Be Wrongfully Convicted & Was Released From Prison After 12 Years But He Died 108 Days After His Exoneration
On November 5, 2020, Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper exonerated Coones, Law and Crime reported. In vacating the conviction, the judge said prosecutors did not reveal key information that would have shown Kathleen Schroll’s motive to die by suicide and cast doubt on her credibility. There was also no DNA or any other evidence tying Coones to the scene and gunshot residue was found on Kathleen Schroll.
After his release from prison, he said his wife Deirdre Coones had stayed with him throughout the years despite his pleas to the contrary, the Kansas City Star reported. He said, “I spent 12-and-a-half years trying to talk her into divorcing me, so she could move on with her life because I loved her so much. I didn’t want her to be sad and lonely. And I finally had to shut up on that because she’d get mad at me every time I’d bring it up.”
Coones, 64, died on February 21, 2021, just 108 days after he was exonerated in the Schroll murder-suicide that had been staged to look like a double homicide. The Midwest Innocence Project and the law firm Morgan Pilate, who represented Coones in getting his conviction vacated, said Coones’ death “is the result of continued State neglect and mistreatment; the evidence suggests that he ultimately succumbed to health conditions that went undiagnosed and untreated during his time in prison.”
Authorities Charged Coones Based on Information Given By Kathleen Schroll Before Her Death & an Unreliable Jailhouse Informant
In 2009, Coones was convicted of the murder of Kathleen Schroll in Kansas City, Kansas, but it was later deemed to be a wrongful conviction in what was actually a murder-suicide, the Midwest Innocence Project wrote.
Despite the lack of evidence indicating a struggle or forced entry, and with no DNA or gunshot residue evidence tying Coones to the scene, authorities and prosecutors went after him because of a phone call between Schroll and her mother before her death. Coones’ attorney said:
This was a classic case of tunnel vision. Even though Pete denied committing the crime and forensic testing showed Pete had never been in the house, the police refused to consider the possibility that he was innocent.
A follow-up investigation found evidence that Schroll had killed her husband and then herself and staged the scene to put the blame on Coones so her family could receive the life insurance benefits, the National Registry of Exonerations wrote. Coones was chosen because Schroll wanted to get back at him for a legal suit he was winning regarding his father’s inheritance money.
Coones’ defense team also argued that the prosecution’s evidence included testimony from an unreliable jailhouse informant but withheld details such as his criminal history, mental health issues and that he had been threatened with jail time if he didn’t testify, the Midwest Innocence Project wrote.