Melissa Schafer

See also: William Baer

Melissa Jo Schafer was arrested on July 1, 2020 for the 1999 home invasion robbery and murder of 39-year-old Saad Kawaf in Jacksonville, Florida. Her co-accused, William Baer, had worked at the Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office as a Detective for 27 years before retiring. At the time of the murder, Baer was engaged in surveillance against Kawaf as part of an ongoing drug investigation. Baer learned that and knew that Kawaf had yet to make a weekly bank deposit of $30,000, and so likely had this sum in cash in his home.

On May 17, 1999, two suspects, a male and a female, entered Kawaf’s home to steal the $30,000 in cash. Kawaf was tied up in the garage and stabbed to death. Kawaf’s wife heard the commotion in the garage, and when she went in, she was grabbed and tied up by the female suspect. Ms. Kawaf bit the female suspect and obtained some of her DNA this way. She then told the female suspect that the cash was hidden in a kitchen cabinet. The female is believed to be Melissa Jo Schafer, who was then Baer’s wife.

The FGG investigation was conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), under the direction of Lori Napolitano.

Baer pled guilty on September 28, 2021, in Duval County Circuit Court. He was given a sentence of life in prison.

Schafer pled guilty in Duval County Circuit Court on December 18, 2021. On March 25, 2022, Schafer was sentenced to 30 years for being an accomplice to murder. She is to serve her time in Florida State Prison.

Many people whose cases Baer worked on during his time with the Jacksonville County Sheriff’s Office, from 1979 to 2002, will now be filing post-conviction appeals.

First Coast News Staff. “Warrant: Retired JSO Homicide Detective, Ex-Wife Fatally Stabbed Convenience Store Owner Over Money.” First Coast News. July 9, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020.

Harris, Jenese, and Steve Patrick. “Ex-Wife of JSO Detective Pleads Guilty in 1999 Murder.” JAX News 4. December 18, 2020. Accessed December 29, 2021.

Harrison, Haley. “Interview Released of Retired JSO Detective Accused of Murder.” First Coast News. August 26, 2020, last modified August 27, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020.

Kless, Troy. “Attorney: Retired JSO Detective’s Arrest in 1999 Cold Case May Lead to Review of Other Cases He Investigated.” First Coast News. July 3, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020.

Micolucci, Vic. “Retired Jacksonville Detective Pleads Guilty in 1999 Murder of Businessman, Gets Life in Prison.” JAX News 4, September 28, 2021. Accessed December 29, 2021.

Smalls, C. Isaiah II. “The Murder Took More Than Two Decades to Solve. A Retired Detective Was Behind it, Cops Say.” Miami Herald, July 30, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020.

Scanlan, Dan. “Ex-Wife of Former Jacksonville Cop Gets 30 Years for Role in 1999 Murder of Store Owner Saad Kawaf.” Florida Times-Union, March 25, 2022. Accessed January 16, 2023.

Sokmensuer, Harriet. “Fla. Store Owner Was Killed 21 Years Ago in Robbery – and Former Detective Arrested in Cold Case.” People, July 6, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020.


First Name Melissa
Last Name Schafer
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started 2018-03-00
Case Cleared 2020-07-01


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1391 Saad Kawaf 39 1999-05-17 Jacksonville, FL Jacksonville CSO; FDLE Second degree murder Guilty plea entered by defendant Duval CO CIR CT

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.