Brian Lee Schappert
Brian Lee Schappert
Kum & Go Store
2743 Mount Vernon Rd. SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Case Number: 92-08179
September 8, 1989
- Linn County in Iowa
Cedar Rapids in Linn County
Brian Lee Schappert, a 22-year-old Coe College senior, was killed September 8, 1989, while working the midnight shift alone at a Cedar Rapids Kum & Go convenience store. Schappert, still in the first week of his senior year at Coe, apparently was a victim of a robbery at the 2743 Mount Vernon Rd. SE store.
Brian was stabbed numerous times in the back and his throat was slashed.
A cab driver who stopped to buy gas discovered Schappert’s body around 3:30 a.m.
Later that day, police released a sketch of a white male in his 20s, about 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, with shoulder-length, dark brown hair. Witnesses told police they saw the man in the area shortly before Schappert’s body was found.
Cedar Rapids Police also had one crucial lead: a van a witness placed at the store near the time the murder occurred.
Police checked on more than 400 such vans registered in the Cedar Rapids area, but admitted the van driver could simply have been making a delivery at the store.
Murder Sparks Change in Convenience Store Security Systems, Leads to Tip
Following Schappert’s murder, Marion city leaders insisted surveillance cameras be installed in convenience stores, and by mid-1990, every store had at least one. The efforts paid off; in January 1992, a skinny robber who held up Marion’s Coastal Mart found his image flashing on televisions all throughout Eastern Iowa’s viewing area.
Not long afterward, Cedar Rapids also had surveillance cameras in the city’s all-night businesses.
- Courtesy photo Schappert Family website
- Arnold and Laura Schappert with Brian (front), son Darrin and Darrin’s wife, Angie.
Then, out of the blue, an anonymous woman phoned Brian Schappert’s parents on Thursday, September 23, 1993, and told them about a van she felt might have been involved in their son’s murder. The caller spoke at length with Laura Schappert, telling her why she thought the van might be the one witnesses had seen and why its owner might have been the murderer. She knew who owned the van, the caller said, and knew the individual frequented the convenience store.
Still, the caller would not provide her name, nor would she provide the van owner’s name.
“But she promised to call detective (Sam) McClurg the next day,” Laura Schappert is quoted as saying in a Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated Sept. 30, 1993.
The call hadn’t arrived by the next evening.
“Maybe she’s afraid. Maybe she doesn’t want to get involved,” McClurg said.
The anonymous woman did, however, phone Det. McClurg the following week and told him where police could find the van, which she said had not been driven since the murder.
Father Believes Son Knew his Killer
Arnold Schappert told the Gazette he believes his son was acquainted with his murderer. Two weeks prior to Brian Schappert’s slaying, he’d been promoted to assistant manager and given the combination to the store’s safe, his father said.
Brian’s body was found near the convenience store’s open, emptied safe.
Mr. Schappert said his initial desire for revenge eventually gave way to a hope his son’s murderer will yet be brought to justice. Schappert told the Gazette:
“I’ve kind of put the hate part behind. But someday, before I die, I hope I know who did it, and I see him in the witness box trying to argue his way out of it. There might still be a little bitterness there, I don’t know.”
One witness did lead police to the owner of a white van; the van’s owner admitted being near the store around the time of the murder but said he saw a brown van there at about the same time.
A Gazette update published Sept. 23, 1996, quoted Assistant Cedar Rapids Police Chief Bruce Kern as saying detectives had interviewed a potential witness as recently as in the past few months, but that the lead turned out to be a dead end.
“It’s still active,” Kern said of Schappert’s murder investigation.
Less than two months later, two men and a 17-year-old girl were arrested just minutes after the men allegedly robbed the same convenience store where Schappert was killed. According to a Gazette article dated Nov. 15, 1996, Christopher J. Kibler, 18, of 1022 Friendly Ave., Iowa City, and Derome M. Robertson, 19, of 1409 Washington Ave. SE, were found within 15 minutes of the Nov. 14 robbery at the Kum & Go store at 2743 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, said police Lt. Kenneth Washburn. A 17-year-old female from Iowa City also was arrested. The Gazette reported:
Officers were a few blocks from the store when the clerk called police at 3:59 a.m. to report she’d been held up by two men wearing ski masks and armed with a sawed-off shotgun. An officer noticed someone slumping down as if to hide in a car parked in the 2900 block of Seeley Ave. SE, and all three occupants were arrested.
The shotgun, ski masks and cash taken from the store were found in the car, according to the complaint against Robertson. The suspects’ shoes matched footprints at the store. Kibler and Robertson also were identified through videotape from the store’s surveillance camera.
The robbery was the third at the Kum & Go store in less than one year. At the time of the Nov. 14 robbery, Danny Hodges, 35, was awaiting trial on charges of robbing the store Nov. 26, 1995. Damien Medulan, 17, was charged with holding up the store June 3, 1996.
Kibler and Robertson were later convicted by a Linn County District Court jury of first-degree robbery and possession of an offensive weapon. Both faced up to 30 years in prison and would have to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.
In 1998, Cedar Rapids police began conducting seminars with business owners and employees, with topics covering how to react during a robbery, evidence preservation and preventing shoplifting.
“If you’re getting robbed and they have a gun that looks real, just assume it’s real,” Officer Glenn Kieler said in one of the seminars held Jan. 29, 1998. “If a robbery does happen, think about your safety first. You need to remain calm and you need to keep that robber calm.”
The convenience store where Brian Schappert was killed is now a tattoo parlor.
Courtesy photo Schappert Family
- Brian Schappert as a boy; Laura Schappert described her son as quiet and shy, but smart. Brian was double majoring in political science and history at Coe College at the time of his murder.
About Brian Schappert
Brian Lee Schappert was born on March 2, 1967 at St. Lukes Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the first of two children born to Arnold and Laura (Kinsel) Schappert. He attended Garfield Elementary, Franklin Jr. High, and Washington High Schools, all in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
He worked one year at a Kum & Go convenience store before enrolling in classes at Coe College, where he was double majoring in Political Science and History. He continued working at the Kum & Go while in college to help pay for his education, and would often work the late night and early morning shifts because there was less activity and he could sometimes work in some studying.
At some point during his college years he met a young lady named Connie, and they became great friends. While they never made it official, the two planned to marry once Brian graduated from college. At the beginning of his senior year, Brian was murdered at the Kum & Go convenience store on September 8, 1989.
Brian had a strong work ethic, and during his short life never gave up when the going got tough. His mother described him as “quiet, shy, but smart.”
In 1990, Arnold and Laura Schappert established the Brian L. Schappert Memorial Prize in History at Coe College. The award recognizes a senior history or political science major who has demonstrated a serious interest in his or her studies. The Schapperts established the memorial prize through contributions of friends and neighbors.
In addition to his parents, Brian was survived by a brother, Darrin, and Darrin’s wife Angie.
No one has ever been charged in Brian’s slaying.
When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in late 2009, Brian’s murder was one of approximately 150 cases listed on the Cold Case Unit’s new website as those the DCI hoped to solve using latest advancements in DNA technology. Although the Cold Case Unit closed down in December 2011 due to lack of funding, the DCI continues to investigate the cases where progress already was being made. They also follow up on any new leads provided in these cases.
If you have any information about Brian Schappert’s unsolved murder, please contact the Cedar Rapids Police Department at (319) 286-5396 or the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Sources and References:
- Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
- Arnold & Laura Schappert Family Website
- “Kidnapping Not Cedar Rapids’ First Case of Violence at Convenience Stores,” KCRG TV-9, May 18, 2010
- “Kidnapping victim returns to scene of crime with police,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 18, 2010
- Coe College Honors Convocation, May 8, 2010
- “Tributes,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 13, 2009
- “‘Your safety 1st’ during a robbery,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, January 30, 1998
- “C.R., Iowa City men convicted of armed robbery,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 10, 1997
- “2 men, 1 teen arrested after robbery,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 15, 1996
- “Clerk’s murder unsolved,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 23, 1996
- “Woman calls police with tip on murder,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 1, 1993
- “Tip revives ’89 murder probe,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 30, 1993
- “Robbery captured on video,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette, January 28, 1992
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