Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

DUI case not `open and shut’


Gloria Schulze’s disappearance adds to the grief of Angela Maher’s family.

PHOENIX – It was going to be an open-and-shut case, police told Rose Marie Maher.

The driver who struck her daughter’s car was legally drunk, drugs were found in her system, and she had admitted drinking at a bar.

Just take care of the funeral, they said.

The founder of her local Students Against Driving Drunk chapter, Angela Maher was on her way to pick up a friend who was drinking at a Scottsdale bar when she was killed in July 1994. The irony wasn’t lost on friends and strangers, who streamed into town for the 21-year-old’s funeral.

Struggling with her grief, Rose Marie Maher began seeing a counselor. She traveled to Nebraska for what would have been Angela’s college graduation. And she waited for the trial.

It never came.

Ten days before jury selection was to begin last September, the driver fled. Left behind was a family grieving over the loss of Angela and its faith in justice.

To the Mahers, Gloria Schulze’s disappearance was the final insult in a case they say was carelessly handled and riddled with errors.

A month passed between Maher’s death and Schulze’s arraignment on manslaughter and drunken driving charges. The pending charges did not bar the 31-year-old woman from driving or leaving the state. She missed drug screenings and court appointments.

Somehow, Schulze slipped through the cracks.

“There’s still an open wound, as long as Gloria Schulze isn’t found,’ said Angela’s brother, 27-year-old Donald Maher, of Sacramento, Calif. “There’s no closure. . . . There’s just a constant sense of urgency.’

“Angela wasn’t the kind of person you’ll ever forget, you could ask anyone who ever ran across her path,’ said Rose Marie Maher.

Her voice breaks as she speaks of the wedding, the children, the things Angela will never have.

“So that’s my daily routine. I cry and I pray to God that they find (Schulze),’ she said. “And the sooner the better.’

Schulze had no prior criminal record, so prosecutors felt there was no reason to put her behind bars or to take her driver’s license.

She kept working at several temporary jobs and lived alone in a house her parents owned in northeast Phoenix.

Her final pretrial court conference came Sept. 15. Schulze was a no-show and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

“Hindsight is a hell of a lot better than foresight. She made all of these court appearances, and then all of a sudden she’s gone,’ said Bill Fitzgerald, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

But there had been red flags. Early in the month, Schulze missed a urine test – one of three a week she was ordered to undergo. She skipped at least four more urine tests after that and a Sept. 11 appointment with a counselor.

Prosecutors say they weren’t told of Schulze’s missed appointments, and the head of the court agency supervising her says there was no reason to call.

“I see the regular course of business of an officer,’ said Gary Graham, judicial administrator for the court’s criminal department. “I don’t see any impropriety.’

The same day Schulze skipped her court conference, her mother filed a missing person’s report at the police department.

Carolynn Schulze had been visiting Phoenix since Sept. 13, and couldn’t get in touch with her daughter, she told police. But when officers showed up at Gloria Schulze’s house to investigate, her mother refused to let them in.

Gloria Schulze’s attorney had advised Carolynn Schulze not to let police in without a search warrant, said Scottsdale police Sgt. Brian Freeman.

Within two weeks of Schulze’s disappearance, two cars registered to her were sold. A month later, so was the house.

The Schulzes did not return messages left by The Associated Press at their home in Mission Viejo. Larry Kazan, Gloria Schulze’s attorney, did not return messages left at his office in Phoenix.

Police got about 30 phone tips after the case was profiled in April on NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries,’ but they say no sightings of Schulze have been reported.

“This is a woman who obviously has some feelings of guilt, and can’t handle it any other way but to run,’ said Fitzgerald.

The Mahers are not sympathetic. Angela, a senior at Creighton University in Nebraska, had been home only a few hours when her friend called for a ride. Angela was in Arizona to celebrate her mother’s 57th birthday.

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