Brian Lee Schappert

Brian Lee Schappert

Brian Lee Schappert

Homicide — CLOSED

Brian Lee Schappert
22 YOA
Kum & Go Convenience Store
2743 Mount Vernon Rd. SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Linn County
Case Number: 92-08179
September 8, 1989

UPDATE: Cold case murder of Cedar Rapids man 30 years ago closed by police

Two men police believe killed 22-year-old Brian Schappert are now dead

Sept. 6, 2019 | By Kat Russell, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — After 30 years of investigation, police finally are closing the murder case of 22-year-old Coe College senior Brian Schappert, who was stabbed to death Sept. 8, 1989, while working the overnight shift alone at a gas station convenience store.

But it’s not the conclusion everyone wanted.

Cedar Rapids police investigator Matt Denlinger

Cedar Rapids police Investigator Matt Denlinger said authorities are closing the three-decade-old murder case of 22-year-old Coe College senior Brian Schappert, who was stabbed to death Sept. 8, 1989, while working alone on an overnight shift at a gas station. Denlinger, above, speaks May 16, 2017, during a news conference about another Cedar Rapids cold case murder — that of Michelle Martinko, a Kennedy High School student who was killed at the Westdale Mall. Police, using a DNA match, later arrested a suspect, Jerry Burns of Manchester, in that killing.
(Courtesy photo Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Instead of pointing to one or more individuals as the definite killers, authorities were able to narrow the suspect pool to two men they are only confident committed the slaying, Cedar Rapids police Investigator Matt Denlinger said. And they are dead, he said, never to face criminal charges.

“We’ve done all we can do on this case,” he said. “We’ve really put our best effort into reaching a conclusion and helping the family get some answers, and this is as close as we are able to come.”

Both the suspected killers were living in Cedar Rapids at the time Brian was slain while working at a Kum & Go on Mount Vernon Road SE, Denlinger said.

Full Story at The Cedar Rapids Gazette

Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing

Brian Lee Schappert, a 22-year-old Coe College senior, was killed in the early morning hours on Friday, September 8, 1989, while working the midnight shift alone at a Cedar Rapids Kum & Go convenience store. Schappert, who’d just begun his senior year at Coe that same week, was slain during a robbery at the 2743 Mount Vernon Road SE store.

kum-and-go-brian-schappert-murderCourtesy John McIvor / The Gazette
Brian Schappert was killed Sept. 8, 1989, at this Cedar Rapids Kum & Go store located at 2743 Mount Vernon Rd. SE.

His throat slashed, Schappert also sustained numerous stab wounds to his back.

His slaying marked a horrific end for an optimistic young man, who, as a kindergartener, had come home from school one day and announced to his mother he was “going to get married” to a fellow grade-schooler named Susan.

Seventeen years later, and long over his boyhood crush on Susan, Schappert’s dreams of getting married lay just beyond the horizon; he planned to marry his college sweetheart, Connie, once he finished his senior year.

He never even got the chance to officially propose to her.

According to a Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated Sept. 9, 1989, cab driver Thomas Cress of Center Point discovered Schappert’s body around 3:15 a.m. after stopping to buy gas.

brian-schappert-murder-suspectCourtesy The Gazette
Cedar Rapids police released this composite sketch of a man seen in the area at the time of Schappert’s slaying.

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 witness placed a van 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.

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. The caller said she knew who owned the van, and said the individual frequented the convenience store.

Still, the caller would not provide her name or the van owner’s name.

schappert-familyCourtesy photo Schappert Family website
Arnold and Laura Schappert with Brian (front), son Darrin and Darrin’s wife, Angie.

“But she promised to call Detective (Sam) McClurg the next day,” Laura Schappert is quoted as saying in a 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 Brian’s murder.

Father Believes Son Knew his Killer

Arnold Schappert told the Gazette he believes his son was acquainted with his killer. Two weeks before the murder, Brian had 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 after the Nov. 14 robbery, 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 lost his life was later turned into a tattoo parlor and eventually sold to another business.

Brian Schappert as boy in suitCourtesy 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.

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.”

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.

Memorial services were held at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 11, 1989, at the First Lutheran Church and officiated by the Rev. Richard Jessen of First Lutheran Church and the Rev. Paul Widen of Valley View Baptist Church. Burial was at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery.

In addition to his parents, Brian was survived by a brother, Darrin, and Darrin’s wife Angie.

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.

Courtesy photo the Schappert FamilyCourtesy photo Schappert Family
Brian’s gravestone at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery in Cedar Rapids.

When the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) established a Cold Case Unit in 2009, Brian Schappert’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 federal grant funding for the DCI Cold Case Unit was exhausted in December 2011, the DCI continues to assign agents to investigate cold cases as new leads develop or as technological advances allow for additional forensic testing of original evidence.

The DCI remains committed to the resolution of Iowa’s cold cases and will continue to work diligently with local law enforcement partners to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice for the victims and their families.

Father lives long enough to see son’s case solved

After 30 years of investigation, Cedar Rapids police investigators finally were able to close Schappert’s case.

Rather than definitively pointing to one or more individuals as the killers, authorities had narrowed the suspect pool to two men they were confident committed the slaying, Cedar Rapids Inv. Matt Denlinger told The Gazette Sept. 6, 2019. Both men, he said, were dead, so could never face criminal charges.

“We’ve done all we can do on this case,” he said. “We’ve really put our best effort into reaching a conclusion and helping the family get some answers, and this is as close as we are able to come.”

Both the suspected killers were living in Cedar Rapids at the time Brian was slain while working at a Kum & Go on Mount Vernon Road SE, Denlinger said.

Two years later, Brian’s father, Arnold “Arnie” Eugene Schappert, 87, of Cedar Rapids, passed away at Unity Point—St. Luke’s Hospital on Sunday, December 19, 2021.

Sources and References:


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36 Responses to Brian Schappert

  1. Stay Strong! says:

    Brian’s mother has now passed to be reunited with Brian and Arnie. Like Arnie, it’s fortunate that Laura lived long enough to learn who tragically killed her son.

  2. Stay Strong! says:

    Brian’s father, Arnie, recently passed away.

    I trust he’s reunited with his son Brian now in heaven.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Thank you for sharing the info about Brian’s father. I’ve since added it to Brian’s page, and am glad his father lived long enough to see his son’s case closed. Have a Happy New Year!

      • Stay Strong! says:

        You’re welcome Jody. I’m happy to help in some small measure.

        I enjoy this site. Keep up the good an important work!

  3. Stay Strong! says:

    Brian’s father, Arnie, recently passed away.

    I trust he is reunited with Brian

  4. Heath says:

    “The convenience store where Brian Schappert was killed is now a tattoo parlor.” It’s not relevant really, but that isn’t accurate since about 2016. I think it’s a great clips now.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Heath, thanks so much for the info regarding the location where Brian Schappert was killed. I’ve updated his case summary to reflect those details. The summaries are written contemporaneously to include whatever information is on file at the time, and though the crime details remain the same, homes and buildings go on to be sold, converted to other businesses, and sold yet again. With so many cases to track, we’re ever so thankful when readers bring to our attention the subsequent changes in the business ownership. There’s nothing better than when astute readers point out the transformations of these historical properties. It matters a great deal, and keeps the general public informed of the historical timeline of these real estate transactions. Thanks for taking the time to share these details with us!

  5. Stay Strong, Keep Fighting For Justice! says:

    Cedar Rapids Police officially closing this case. Per the article, they are confident they know the two men who are responsible for the robbery but not sure which of the two, if not both, actually committed the murder. Regardless, both are culpable. Both are now deceased (may they rot in hell).

    They have disclosed the names and other pertinent information to the family, I presume that brings the family some measure of comfort.

    Seems like he was a good man with a bright future gone too soon. Thoughts & Prayers to the family for this senseless act.

  6. Herb Hunter says:

    PS — look at the apartments behind the Kum & Go in the pic above. . . I’m thinking this person was on foot and knew the area. He knew Brian and that Brian had access to the safe. I’m not sure what the results were from CRPD working those apartments, but there were reports of someone in store playing a video game near Brian’s time of death. Don’t you think, if that person was a regular, he didn’t converse with Brian regularly?

    I still think the vans are a bust. Eyewitnesses are a cacophony of information — usually most of it false. Go back to the beginning. Think about who would rob the place, knew Brian had access to the safe, and when the store was most dead. Playing a video game late at night is a perfect casing opportunity. . .

  7. Herb Hunter says:

    Something I found odd is how much the suspect in this case looks like the suspect in this one: . . .perhaps it’s just a coincidence. . .

    Also, after reading through the archives, two facts keep coming to mind: 1) Brian was just recently promoted to Assistant Manager (allowing him access to the safe) so it would seem the killer knew this fact before he robbed the place, and 2) Brian probably knew this person and could identify him so the killer didn’t want a witness.

    Most likely a regular or someone who lived in the neighborhood who also knew store protocols for who and who does not have access to the safe. The vans my be a bust since deliveries are done at this time (between 3-4 in the morning) and my hunch is the killer came and left on foot. Everyone always looks for a vehicle description, while the smart robber/killer travels by foot. . .

  8. Tami Soukup says:

    I went to high school with Brian. He was a very friendly and bright young man. I pray for the family for justice and small piece of closure.

  9. Diana Wilson says:

    So sad. I don’t know how anyone can get away with killing someone for that long! You’d think they’d have to tell someone.

  10. I will never forget this. Ever. Sure wish they would have caught the person(s) responsible.

  11. Brenda Parks says:

    Lisa, do you remember this?

  12. What drives people to kill innocent people. My gosh he was so young and had his life ahead of him. I will never understand.

  13. God Bless anyone that is willing to work at a convenience/gas station as I wouldn’t be willing to do it for any amount of money. Hope they get justice for this young man and his family.

  14. Mark Becker says:

    hideous crime , they cut his throat in the bathroom. Two black guys were seen driving away…oh yeah it wasn’t a hate crime….

  15. someone out there knows something about this, they are cowards for not coming forward!

    • JOHN DOE says:


  16. an old Garfield Elementary friend….so sad….RIP..

  17. This is one I will never forget, so sad ….

  18. So very sad, thanks for that info Kris.

  19. Kris Starks says:

    One of my best friends worked there at this time with him. The people working there had exchanged schedules, and she would have been working that night. She also said at that time, that they would stack the extra inventory against the back door of the little store. She said they were told they shouldn’t do that, as it was a fire hazard (escape route) but they continued to do it. I believe he was found near the back exit like he was trying to get away.

  20. Nathan Handy says:

    Nobody should be killed at all but especially while working. He was just an employee and nobody deserves to lose their life over 8 dollars an hour. I pray you get justice.

  21. Bridget says:

    Would love to see this case brought back out into the spotlight. There has to be something in the evidence that could perhaps be retested with today’s technology, that holds a clue.
    Even if they find the person, there will never be an answer to why…..Brian could never have done anything to deserve to die the way he did.
    Schappert family… are always in my thoughts and prayers. Every time I drive down Mt. Vernon Road, I ask Brian, to please send a sign from above to let someone know what truly happened.

  22. Laura Kinsel Schappert says:

    Our hearts remain very heavy. Brian was 22 when this happened and March 2, 2015 he
    would have been 48 years old. Probably married, a college degree or two from Coe
    college, a good job. I can honestly say one of the dearest guys I ever knew. I hope,
    pray and thank the Lord that we had him for 22 years I pray that yet in our life
    time the vicious person or persons that killed him so violently will face justice. It just
    doesn’t seem fair for all the people that this has affected, but we know God is good and
    there is a reason.

    • Anonymous says:

      I heard Aaron Johnston knows all about it he lives in the homeless shelters on SE side grew up in Rompot (Cedar Valley Neighborhood) right down the road from this Kum and Go Lived there until flood of 2008 he is like late 50s or 60 by now

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