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Pastor Linked to Two Wives` Deaths?
Aired October 1, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight, live, upstate Pennsylvania. A beloved minister suffers crushing heartbreak not once but twice. His first wife of 30 years, mother of his three children, Jewel, dies in a home accident. And then the second wife mangled to death in a car crash.
Bombshell tonight. Prosecutors now say that tragic car crash was a fake, it was staged, that the renowned minister, the reverend Arthur Schirmer, murdered second wife Betty Jean and that her brutal injuries do not -- repeat, do not -- match the preacher`s version of the car crash.
And as we go to air tonight, in a stunning twist, the district attorney launches a brand-new investigation into the first wife, Jewel Schirmer`s, death 11 years ago, noting 14 blows to the head, the neck, the face, more blows covering the first wife`s arms, the legs, even anal bruising. Now, that`s some fall down the stairs, wouldn`t you say?
And now 11 years later, the same preacher does it again? Now, wait a minute. Could it have anything to do with that church secretary, the one he was sleeping with, whose husband commits suicide? Well, everywhere this preacher goes, people drop like flies! Tonight, we want justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A retired pastor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arthur Schirmer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pastor at Readers (ph) United Methodist Church arrested by state police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say he killed his wife and then faked a car accident to try and cover it up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the death of the -- the second wife, it brought suspicions to his first wife`s death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A person of interest in 50-year-old Jewel Schirmer`s death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jewel died of blunt force trauma.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She died from a fractured skull from a fall down a flight of stairs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her then husband, Pastor Arthur Schirmer, a 63- year-old, who happens to be charged with his second wife`s death, Betty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The injuries she had could not have occurred from simply falling down stairs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was thought to be an accident in Lebanon dock (ph) and (ph) county coroners now say it wasn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.
Bombshell tonight. Live to upstate Pennsylvania. A beloved minister suffers crushing heartbreak not once but twice. First wife, 30 years, mother of his three children, Jewel, dies in a freaky home accident. Then the second wife mangled to death in a car crash.
Prosecutors now say that tragic car crash was a fake, staged, that the renowned minister, Reverend Arthur Schirmer, murdered second wife Betty Jean. And then in a sick and stunning twist, the DA launches a new investigation into the first wife`s death 11 years ago.
She had bruises all over her face, her head, her neck, all over, including anal bruises. Now, that`s some fall down the stairs, wouldn`t you say? Everywhere this preacher goes, people drop like flies.
We are taking your calls. I want to go straight out to Dave Mack joining me from WAAX. Dave Mack, not one but two wives dead. And have you looked -- I`m going to go in a moment to Dr. Ann Contrucci, the ER physician extraordinaire because I`m looking at two autopsy results, first wife Jewel Schirmer, second wife Betty Schirmer, and it`s deja vu all over again!
Just give me the facts on -- let`s just start with the second wife`s death, Dave Mack, nutshell.
DAVE MACK, CLEAR CHANNEL WAAX: All right. Arthur says that Betty woke up in the middle of the night. Her jaw was hurting, and he had to take her to the hospital. And on the way there, she needed to move around in the car, unbuckled her seatbelt to get comfortable. That`s when a deer ran in front of him. He swerved to miss the deer and crashed into a guardrail.
However, when the police investigated, they found that that car was only going about 20, 25 miles per hour or less. And Betty had massive, massive injuries to her head that could not possibly...
GRACE: And what about him? Dave Mack, what about him? What were the preacher`s injuries?
MACK: No, he was just fine. He was just relaxing in the car.
GRACE: Chillin` like a villain. Truer words never spoken.
Let me go straight out to Dr. Ann Contrucci, ER physician. Dr. Ann, do you have the autopsy results in front of you? Just really all I need you to look at right now are the diagrams. We`ve got first wife Jewel Schirmer.
She doesn`t have them. Somebody on the staff give them to her really quickly.
DR. ANN CONTRUCCI, PHYSICIAN: Yes, I don`t have them.
GRACE: Second wife Betty Schirmer. Get those to her quickly, please so she can look at them. I know she`s looked at the file, but I want her to see these two drawings.
You know, Dr. Ann Contrucci, you know how in the autopsy, they always have the body sketch and they show you the front side of the body and the back side of the body as a sketch? It`s a uniform sketch for all men and women. And then it points out where lacerations or bruises or breaks are on the body.
Listen to this. The first wife, Jewel Schirmer -- this was 13 years ago, Dr. Ann -- 14 different impact injuries to head and face, lacerations to head, skull fracture, abrasions, contusions. And listen to this, Dr. Ann. Second wife, Betty Schirmer, blunt force head trauma, lacerations to side of head, fractures to face and skull.
What a coincidence, Dr. Ann. What do you make of it?
CONTRUCCI: What a coincidence -- not. I didn`t think preachers were supposed to do things like this. You know, I`m looking at this now. You know, first of all, the fall down a stairs -- what kind of things can happen falling down stairs? Well, you can get broken bones. You can certainly get abrasions, bruises, that kind of thing. But I think she had 14 -- 14 separate impact injuries to her head and her face? No.
Lacerations to her head -- sure, you could get a skull fracture. That`s certainly possible. But I love the -- you know, the abrasions and bruising to her anal area. Nancy, really? Do we have to get graphic about that? I don`t think so.
GRACE: As a matter of fact -- as a matter of fact, Dr. Ann, what you call "graphic" I call evidence. And I learned it the hard way, describing all of this in opening statements to juries, to men and women that have never heard of skull fractures, multiple blows to the head from falling down the stairs, including anal bruising. Now...
GRACE: ... Dr. Ann, that`s one hell of a fall, all right?
CONTRUCCI: Yes. I mean, it`s not going to happen from stairs.
GRACE: You`ve got all the blows to the head and you`ve got anal bruising. Now, this is wife number one.
GRACE: Now you`ve got wife number two, Betty Schirmer. She has blunt force head trauma, huge laceration to the ride side of the head. And Dr. Ann Contrucci, what does it mean to you if we discover that most of the blows are on one side of the head or the other on both women? What would that say to you forensically, Dr. Contrucci?
CONTRUCCI: Well, I mean, I think there`s a pattern here. And again, going back to -- in the second wife with the -- this supposed car wreck and we hit a deer at minimal -- you know, minimal traveling speed, I don`t understand that. It doesn`t fit the injury. Why did she not have -- if she hit the windshield, for instance, why didn`t she have glass embedded in her? That`s what happens when you are going high impact, that kind of blunt force. That just doesn`t make sense to me at all.
GRACE: And you know, another thing, Dr. Contrucci, as I have just learned very recently from firsthand knowledge, you know, when you have a blow to the head, it doesn`t always result in a skull fracture.
GRACE: So I`m surprised to see all these skull fractures to both of these women`s skulls.
CONTRUCCI: Right. Exactly. And even, +again, going back to the fall down the stairs, you`re not always going to get a skull fracture. In fact, sometimes falls down the stairs, amazingly, you have very, very little injury. Even children have -- children, smaller than adults, have little injury from a fall down the stairs.
GRACE: Let`s go back and look at the other evidence. OK, Jean Casarez, what`s so disturbing is that it seems to be -- we`re getting reports that people had complained to this Methodist minister`s superintendent that he was having too many affairs within his congregation, that his first marriage to Jewel Schirmer was plagued with infidelity on his part.
What more do we know -- let`s just start with the crime scene. Tell me about the crime scene on the first wife, Jewel Schirmer. That`s 13 years ago. And that was some freaky home accident, right?
JEAN CASAREZ, "IN SESSION": That`s right. And remember, at the time, the police didn`t even go to the home to conduct any type of investigation.
But here is how she was found. It was the basement stairs. She was found with her torso on the basement floor, her legs up on the stairs, a shop vac next to her with the cord wrapped around her left foot.
GRACE: A what?
CASAREZ: A shop vac, which is like a vacuum cleaner for a garage.
GRACE: OK. You`re seeing the video of YouTube. Take Jean down. Let me see this video in full. This is inside the home. This the home of the first wife. And this is significant, Jean, extremely significant because you see here in the home absolutely nothing is out of order. Everything is precisely in order.
Now, this is the first wife with the anal bruising, who goes down the stairs and is covered with bruises, lacerations, blows to the head. Jean, what is so significant about what we`re seeing right now?
Keep showing it to me. I don`t need to see me or Jean, I need to see this video of the home.
Jean, the shop vac cord was wrapped around her ankle. Now, the shop vac being an industrial-type vacuum -- there`s "The Last Supper" up on the wall -- where was that? Did she -- that was down at the bottom. So how did she fall down the stairs and then somehow lasso her foot into the shop vac cord and get her shoes off if she falls down the stairs?
CASAREZ: And that is part of the inconsistency that seemed to make no difference back in 1999 when she died because this was not a homicide. It was not determined to be a homicide.
Even more, the reverend stayed behind when she was taken to the hospital. Why? To clean up the blood. He had said that the paramedics cleaned up some of the blood and he wanted to make sure he cleaned up the rest of it. And so they found it very questionable that he didn`t even go to attend to his wife.
GRACE: Wait a minute! He stays behind, while they take his wife to the hospital by ambulance, to clean up the blood?
GRACE: A renowned minister suffers crushing heartbreak after the freak accident at home, the death of his first wife, Jewel, and then years later, the death of second wife, that wife named Betty Schirmer. She has a car crash in the middle of the night, decides to go to the hospital with an aching jaw. I wonder what became of that toothache.
Let`s find out because with me right now, special guest David Arnold. He is the district attorney who filed murder charges against Schirmer in the death of first wife Jewel Schirmer, the mother of their three children.
But first, to Lynn Ann in Arkansas. Hi, Lynn Ann. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I sure love your show. And I wish I had an advocate like you 23 years ago when my cousin and her son were abducted. But my question on this is, did they ever find a weapon, what caused the blunt force trauma?
GRACE: Good question. And you`re talking about wife number one, the fall down the stairs...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
GRACE: ... the wife number two, who dies from a 20-mile-an-hour crash?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both -- well, wife number one.
GRACE: All right. Let`s talk about Jewel. With me, David Arnold, the elected district attorney. David, thank you for being with us. David, number one, first of all, this takes a lot of guts. This is -- you know, whenever you put a pastor, a preacher, a nun, a priest on trial, you got an uphill battle because they walk into the courtroom, you know, much like doctors -- they walk into the courtroom with an air of credibility, of authenticity. Jurors want to believe the best of them. And I get that.
So this takes a lot of guts and a lot of backbone on your part. Thank you for being with us. What about a murder weapon, David Arnold?
DAVID ARNOLD, LEBANON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY (via telephone): Well, first of all, thank you for having me on the show. But I have to preface my comments -- and as you know, since the cases are pending, I have to be careful what I comment on specifically.
ARNOLD: I can`t talk about evidence that hasn`t been released to the public as of yet.
ARNOLD: But if you review the presentment from the grand jury and the affidavit of probable cause that are public documents, the findings of the pathologist indicate that her injuries were consistent with both going down a flight of stairs or possibly being from some -- struck by some object.
So there`s no object found, is the short answer to your question. But I don`t think that the pathologist said that there definitely had to have been an object, just that it was consistent with being struck by an object.
GRACE: Well, if there`s going to be a murder charge, I assume it`s not for falling down the stairs.
ARNOLD: That`s correct.
GRACE: So I`m guessing there had to be some type of object. And in the indictment -- and I`ve got it with me here, the investigation -- investigating grand jury from your county -- the cause of death is listed as what, David?
ARNOLD: Cause of death is traumatic brain injury.
GRACE: She was taken to Hershey Medical Center, later removed from life support. Question. When the EMTs loaded Jewel onto the gurney and took her to the hospital, what did Reverend Schirmer do?
ARNOLD: Well, as you can see from the presentment, the EMTs were not able to find Pastor Schirmer the remainder of their time there. They had looked for him, and he was nowhere to be found. And they obviously had to leave quickly to get to the hospital, so they left without having a chance to speak to him.
GRACE: He was not there at his wife`s side?
ARNOLD: They indicated that they were not able to find him anywhere.
GRACE: David Arnold is with us, everyone, the elected district attorney who is taking this case to court. Was the blood around Jewel Schirmer`s body coagulated at the time EMTs arrived?
ARNOLD: That was the testimony presented and noted in the grand jury`s presentment, that`s correct.
GRACE: To Dr. Ann Contrucci. What does that say to you that the blood was already coagulated or thickening, globbed (ph) together in lumps by the time EMTs got there?
CONTRUCCI: Well, Nancy, that`s hard to say because you can have blood coagulating pretty quickly if it`s not in a certain type of medium, if it`s out in the air. So I`m not sure that really necessarily tells us much of anything.
GRACE: I couldn`t hear you. If it`s not out where?
CONTRUCCI: If it`s not in a special type of medium. Like, when we draw blood for tests, it goes into special tubes that have a certain type of medium to keep it from coagulating.
GRACE: How long...
CONTRUCCI: So I`m not sure that...
GRACE: ... does it take to coagulate?
CONTRUCCI: Oh, it can sometimes be pretty quick, within a few minutes. It`s not -- it`s not something that`s...
GRACE: OK, so that`s not really going to be any type of forensic evidence.
CONTRUCCI: I don`t think so.
GRACE: I want to go back to David Arnold. David, I`m interested in this extension cord -- with me, the elected district attorney -- the extension cord that was wrapped around her ankle. If she fell down the stairs, where was the extension cord plugged in?
ARNOLD: Well, if that is an accurate accounting of what happened, the extension cord would have had to have been plugged up in the garage, up at the top of the stairs in the garage.
GRACE: Matt Zarrell, I`m trying to figure out, where was that extension cord? Was it plugged into the shop vac? Was it independent of the shop vac? I mean, how did an extension cord get wrapped around her ankle after she falls down the steps? What`s the theory, Matt Zarrell?
MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER (via telephone): Well, the defense`s theory is going to be that it was -- that she had suffered a massive heart attack, which medical records (INAUDIBLE) show that did not happen.
GRACE: Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt! David Arnold, isn`t it true that portions of her heart valves were donated as -- to other people that needed heart valves and used as transplants? If she had a heart attack or a heart problem, they wouldn`t have used pieces of her heart for transplants. That`s crazy!
ARNOLD: That`s correct. Portions of her heart valves were used in transplantation.
GRACE: You got to give me more than, She`s got a heart problem, Matt Zarrell!
ZARRELL: Well, Nancy, I can tell you more about the injuries. They were numerous. In addition to the anal bruising, as you talked about, numerous lacerations, contusions throughout the body, lower extremities, abrasions to the outer arm, elbow, hips, knees, thigh and feet, and as you talked about, the trauma and dilation (ph) of the anal area.
Also, Nancy, one injury to Jewel`s upper extremities was believed to be a handprint.
GRACE: Out to Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session." I`m very interested -- I know we`re going to go forward now in court -- David Arnold is the district attorney -- with charges in the first wife`s death, who fell down the stairs and died, including anal bruising.
But let me go to the second wife`s death, Betty Jean, and the car crash. How fast was the car going, and did they strike a fixed object?
CASAREZ: Well, he said the car was going about 55 miles an hour. But once they had the accident reconstructionist come out, it was found the car was going about 20 miles per hour. And it did strike a guardrail. But the injuries to the car were almost nonexistent. The airbags didn`t even come out.
GRACE: Oh! Oh! Out to the lines. Pete in Florida. What`s your question, Pete?
PETE, CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Do you just assume this pastor`s guilty because he was a cheater? I`m confused. Can you actually prosecute someone on being a cheater?
GRACE: Pete in Florida --
PETE: It doesn`t mean he did it. Even if --
GRACE: Pete in Florida? Pete in Florida. No. Just because the man cheats does not make him a killer. If that were true, the jailhouses and federal penitentiaries would all be full in this country.
I don`t care about moral indiscretions, all right? That`s not my business. My business is murder. When I see the bodies start piling up -- look, everywhere this guy goes, somebody drops dead. They drop like flies. Something is very wrong with this picture.
Do I still have Pete in Florida?
PETE: I`m here.
GRACE: Yes -- no. OK. I`m going to take that as a yes, Liz.
Pete in Florida, why do both wives have multiple blows to the head?
PETE: They fell down the stairs, they got in an accident. I mean even his kids say he`s innocent.
PETE: And why would they -- why would they be defending him if --
GRACE: Pete, how do you fall down the stairs and get so many blows to the head and anal bruising, Pete in Florida? That`s some fall, isn`t it?
PETE: You fall down on your butt.
GRACE: Dr. Contrucci, is it even physically impossible to get these many serious blows to the head falling down the stairs including anal -- anal bruising?
DR. ANN CONTRUCCI, PEDIATRICIAN: I mean, never say never, Nancy, but OK, the anal bruising, let`s -- if you fall down on your butt, you fall on your butt cheeks, OK? Not your anus. OK? Let`s think about. So -- no. This just doesn`t make sense. And can I say -- can I just as an aside say something I`ve been thinking about? This man -- so first wife is critically ill, EMS is going to transport her to the hospital. Number one, in all my years of experience in an ER with families, critically ill patients, what family member is not going to try to jump in the back of the ambulance? He was nowhere to be found.
And then in the second wife, he -- why didn`t he call 911 if she`s bleeding and she`s unconscious from all these -- from this horrible accident? Why did he not call 911? It doesn`t fit with -- with the behaviors of loved ones when a loved one is critically ill or something`s wrong. It -- I`m just giving that out as -- just my own experience in the ER. It doesn`t make sense to me.
GRACE: And you`ve seen thousands and thousands of ER patients.
I`m going to go Wendy Whitman, our producer on the story. Let`s follow up on what Dr. Ann Contrucci just said. When John David, my son, was just in the hospital, I didn`t leave one minute. I didn`t leave him to take a shower. I didn`t leave him to brush my teeth. When he underwent a battery, a battery of tests, I didn`t leave one minute from his side.
Wendy Whitman, where was this preacher when his wife was being taken to the ER, Wendy?
WENDY WHITMAN, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: I believe he was cleaning up blood in the home, and I always think it`s interesting with these guys that, you know, your first reaction is how`s he going to think he can get away with this when in both scenarios there was such specific physical evidence and a physical kind of thing, falling down the stairs or a car accident. But he actually did get away with it because it took over 10 years for them to figure out that you can bruise -- you know, anal bruising if nothing else from a fall.
GRACE: Hey. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, be careful, Wendy. Don`t lump everybody in together because I -- it didn`t take me that long to figure it out. I reported on that second death when it happened. And now 13 years later, charge are being brought.
We are taking your calls. Kelly Saindon, Greg McKeithen, Paul Batista.
All right, Paul Batista, let`s talk about the charges. You know, even though statistics are not allowed in court because they are not deemed probative under the rules of evidence, what`s the likelihood, the likelihood that you get two wives dying unless you`re this preacher -- what`s the likelihood that both wives die? And during this we know of repeat infidelities?
PAUL BATISTA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, AUTHOR OF "DEATH`S WITNESS": Forget likelihood. These are separate incidents, there is every explanation in the world for the first fall down the stairs.
GRACE: Really, what?
BATISTA: Being an accident. And Nancy --
GRACE: Put him up.
BATISTA: Why did it take 12 years, the initial grand jury concluded - -
GRACE: OK. Can you explain to me --
BATISTA: An accident here.
GRACE: The anal bruising. You explain the blows to the head, lacerations all over her body, and anal bruising. Let`s hear it, Paul Batista.
BATISTA: You explain to me, Nancy, where is the forensic evidence that she was harmed before that fall down the stairs. And as to anal bruising, I think Pete said it very effectively, she took a serious fall down the stairs. And without knowing more about the nature of the anal bruising, it has no significance.
GRACE: I`d like to hear you -- I`d like to hear you tell that to a jury loaded with women.
Out to you, Kelly Saindon, another issue on the second wife`s death, the one that was in that freak car crash. She leaves in the middle of the night with her husband because she`s got a toothache -- David Arnold, hold on, Kelly.
David Arnold, whatever became of the evidence of the toothache? Do we know about that?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY DAVID ARNOLD, LEBANON COUNTY, FILES MURDER CHARGES AGAINST PASTOR: Again, I don`t want to shirk the question but that`s the Monroe County case. And I don`t -- I don`t know if I should comment on their case.
GRACE: OK. I agree. I agree. Jean Casarez, what do we know about the alleged toothache?
CASAREZ: The alleged jaw ache? Well, I don`t think anything ever came of it. And I don`t think there were any finding on autopsy to show at all that there was a purported jaw ache. But he cited that the reason she took her seatbelt off was because she wanted to get a little more comfortable in her passenger seat because of that jaw ache. Of course he had three other scenarios about why she took her seat belt off before the crash.
GRACE: And he had his cell phone and did not call 911, is my understanding.
Greg McKeithen, question to you, former prosecutor, now defense attorney. What about the bruises on her body that clearly indicate a handprint? Where you see the fingertip bruises on her body, the four fingertip bruises? What about that, McKeithen?
GREG MCKEITHEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Nancy, as you know in any criminal case, you must prove and connect that the defendant is a perpetrator of the crime involved. In this case, we must rely on forensic evidence, and we must call upon our expert witnesses to clarify and point us in the right direction.
GRACE: So --
MCKEITHEN: In this case, we don`t have that.
GRACE: So Greg McKeithen, you totally avoided my question.
Kelly Saindon, back to you. When the first wife died -- let me clarify this with David Arnold. When the first wife died from falling down the stairs, falling down the stairs, isn`t it true that he said he had been out running, David Arnold?
ARNOLD: That`s correct. He indicated that he`s been out running and when he came back, that`s when he found her at the bottom of the stairs.
GRACE: But isn`t it true, David Arnold, that it was raining outside and he was completely dry when the paramedics got there?
ARNOLD: That was the statement from the paramedics, that it had been raining and he did not appear as if he had been out running because he was dry and not sweating or wet from the rain or anything like that.
GRACE: So, Kelly Saindon, in time it takes to go run and he doesn`t get wet in the rain and get back, what, in that 40 minutes, somebody breaks in, kills his wife, including bruises all over her body, including to her anus, and gets away. The blood is coagulated, and he leaves while the EMTs are taking care of his wife, trying to save her life?
KELLY SAINDON, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: None of it makes sense. It doesn`t add up. This guy murdered her. And he got caught, like Drew Peterson, because another wife died. This is somebody who had systematically abused his wife. And I disagree with your other attorney who said you`re going to need experts.
This is common sense. These injuries don`t happen from that type of fall. This was an abused wife. This guy is maniacal, and he killed her. And it`s about time they`re prosecuting.
GRACE: David Arnold --
SAINDON: It`s years later, but thankfully now --
GRACE: You were going forward with the death of the first wife at trial first. I know the second wife`s death, the freak car accident is in another jurisdiction.
Will evidence of the second wife`s crash come in to your trial as a similar transaction?
ARNOLD: Well, that will certainly be decided by the trial judge in this case. But it`s our intention, and we believe very strongly that that evidence of the second incident should be admissible in the trial of Jewel`s death.
GRACE: Back in 90 seconds. We remember Army Private First Class Zachary Lovejoy, 20, Albuquerque. Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal. Loved outdoors, ATVs, skiing. Parents Mike and Terry, sister Ashley, fiancee, Caitlin.
Zachary Lovejoy, American hero.
Georgia, the first state to sign a law for lung cancer awareness license plate. Tags now available. Proceeds to Joan Gaeta Lung Cancer Fund and to battle the world`s number one cancer killer. For info go to Forjoan.org.
Back in 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police say a retired Pennsylvania pastor killed his wife --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Schirmer was uninjured but his wife, 58-year- old Betty Jean Schirmer, was fatally injured.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And then staged a car accident to try and cover it up.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Schirmer told police Betty Jean wasn`t wearing a seatbelt when he swerved to miss a deer and crashed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We are back and taking your calls. Straight back to Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session."
Jean, the reverend appeared at the grand jury. What was his demeanor?
CASAREZ: You know, it`s so interesting because the presentment, which is the culmination of that grand jury process from the opinions and the thoughts of the grand jurors said they could not believe his arrogance. That they don`t know what will happen in this case, but they could not believe his arrogance as he testified before them. That`s how they concluded their presentment.
GRACE: Matt Zarrell, specifically what did the grand jury who -- you know, 20 to 40 people, of every walk of life, that hear case after case after case and decide whether or not to, no, Bill, drop the case or true, Bill, indict the case? What exactly did he do to make them say the pastor was so arrogant?
MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE STAFFER, COVERING STORY: Well, Nancy, I`ll read directly from what the grand jury wrote. They said, quote, "Even upon a simple request to provide us with his name, Mr. Schirmer refused to do so." So he wouldn`t answer any questions at all.
GRACE: To C.W. Jensen, retired police captain. C.W., let`s talk some calls.
To Janet in Florida. Hi, Janet. What`s your question?
JANET, CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Hi, Nancy, thanks for taking my call. When he staged the fatal car crash, did he sustain any injuries, do we know that?
GRACE: C.W. Jensen, joining me from Cave Creek. Weigh in, C.W.
C.W. JENSEN, RETIRED PORTLAND POLICE CAPTAIN: The reports say that, one -- a passerby came upon this really minor accident with this horrific injuries to the wife and said, well, have you called 911? And he`s standing in there with the phone, and he doesn`t call 911. She ends up doing it. He had no injuries, he had no problem. And one of the things I thought as we`ve sat here for the past little while is, just think, if the police hadn`t responded to that incident where -- the first wife fell down the stairs, this thing would have unraveled.
The EMTs weren`t responsible to investigate a crime. They should have gone there -- this was an unattended death. Regardless, I think the second wife would be alive now if they hadn`t done the job on the first one.
GRACE: To Melba in Florida. Hi, Melba. What`s your question, dear?
MELBA, CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Hi, Nancy, I love your show.
GRACE: Thank you.
MELBA: And I`m so excited for the Lifetime movie. "The 11th Victim."
GRACE: Thank you, November 3, "11th Victim."
MELBA: Putting it on my calendar. My question is, did they -- did she have children with him? Are they both -- who are the children that are supporting --
GRACE: OK. Yes. I know I heard that from Pete in Florida.
To Jean Casarez, the three children were from the first wife, Jewel, who had the freak accident in the home. Were there any children between the two of them with the second wife who had the freak accident in the car?
CASAREZ: Not that I know of. They were married seven years. The second wife, Betty Jean. But the children, the three children were from the first wife, you`re right.
GRACE: To Dr. Leslie Seppinni, clinical psychologist and author. Weigh in, Leslie.
LESLIE SEPPINNI, PSY.D., CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I mean, we`re clearly looking at a situation where this man has a history of domestic violence. It`d be interesting to even go back and meet some of his girlfriends and find out what his past has been. But to me it`s very clear that he murdered both of these girls. And that there`s a rage there that he has -- that he`s been able to hide behind his cloak as a pastor.
And it`s not uncommon for men like that to have a confusion between trying to right themselves as good as a pastor and then wrong themselves as a man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the death of the second wife, it brought suspicions to his first wife`s death.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police say a retired Pennsylvania pastor killed his wife and then staged a car accident to try and cover it up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The injuries she had could not have occurred from just falling downstairs.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A person of interest in 50-year-old Jewel Schirmer`s death. Her then husband, Pastor Arthur Schirmer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Out to the lines, Theo in Michigan. Hi, Theo. What`s your question?
THEO, CALLER FROM MICHIGAN: Yes. You`re in that police report states that he didn`t call 911 even though he had a cell phone with him. Now will that be used in the trial? I mean to me that just sort of -- it`s like shows his guilt.
GRACE: And Theo -- let me go to you, Wendy Whitman. So she is so beaten up by the accident, the crash that she dies. He is unharmed standing there with his cell phone. All right. That to me speaks volumes. But we haven`t even talked about the church secretary whose husband commits suicide? No signs of depression, nothing. Commits suicide. Like within hours of he confronts the pastor.
WHITMAN: Yes, Nancy. I think that -- I think this guy is just incredibly arrogant like what Jean was saying. And I think that, yes, none of the physical stuff in the cases add up. And it shows his arrogance because he did an incredibly poor job of -- I mean, who tries to stage a car crash when nothing -- when clearly nothing is going to add up to the cops. But yet in the first incident with the stairs he did get away with it. And it was clearly not an accident from every which way, and he did take over 10 years for them to do anything about it. So, you know, maybe he was right to be arrogant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A complicated web investigators are now trying to unravel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could he really do something like that?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Both of Schirmer`s wife had died.
GRACE: Unleash the lawyers. Kelly Saindon, Greg McKeithen, Paul Batista. Don`t you find it a little unusual, Paul Batista, that he didn`t bother to go with the wife to the hospital?
BATISTA: Not at all. She was dead --
BATISTA: She was dead, Nancy.
GRACE: No, she wasn`t dead.
BATISTA: We have different reaction --
GRACE: No, no, no. She wasn`t dead yet.
BATISTA: Everybody has a different reaction to a crisis in his or her life.
GRACE: She wasn`t dead. She was hanging on to life.
BATISTA: She was being transported to the hospital by medical workers. I don`t find anything particularly incriminating in the fact he didn`t go in the ambulance.
GRACE: All right. Greg -- Greg McKeithen, I`m sure you do, echo.
Greg McKeithen, why is it that men when they`re having affairs they suddenly start to exercise and turn into neat nicks when their wives get killed?
Why is that?
MCKEITHEN: Well, you can`t necessary use that as evidence of a motive, Nancy.
GRACE: I didn`t. I didn`t say I was. I asked you a question.
MCKEITHEN: That doesn`t necessarily prove he`s having -- doing anything that leads to criminal behavior.
GRACE: Yes, you know what, Kelly, he`s right. I would say the blows to the head pretty much do that. Oh, I forgot almost the --
SAINDON: I agree. And he stayed behind to clean what he -- what he - - and he stayed behind to clean up and try to cover his tracks. It worked since 1999 until present, so he did something right to hide it. But to say that this is all just because he`s having an affair is ridiculous.
GRACE: Wendy Whitman, I think it`s more than just an affair because with affairs you can get a divorce. But here if the prosecution is right, there`s the desire to actually kill. And what do you make -- the complete disregard of these women`s lives, two freak accidents?
I don`t think arrogant, the word you used, Wendy Whitman, is appropriate. I think that it`s much more sinister, much more nefarious than arrogant. And I`m very surprised about the adult children. Not accepting the facts.
WHITMAN: Well, I think that -- I think, you know, you see so many different cases of spousal murders. Drew Peterson, Scott Peterson. Only thing is this guy`s name is not Peterson. The spousal murders, yes, Drew Peterson, Michael Peterson, Scott Peterson. All these guys are original and say it`s not Peterson. But the thing is the kids sometimes do react differently. You don`t know what the relationship with him has been.
You know, that`s just a whole other thing to get into. But I think as far as the actual crime, yes. These guys look at the lengths he went to save his own skin. But the lives of even the mother of his children --
GRACE: To Dave Mack, morning talk show host. You know, Dave Mack, it may be a matter of the they father so high up on a pedestal, as do many of us, and they just emotionally cannot accept the facts.
DAVE MACK, MORNING TALK SHOW HOST, CLEAR CHANNEL WAAX RADIO: They love their dad. I mean, kids love their dad. He`s a pastor. He`s a father figure for a whole congregation. And the congregation couldn`t believe it.
GRACE: Yes, I wonder what all the other women who had affairs with them have to say. They`re probably counting their lucky stars they never went down a flight of stairs around him.
Everyone, "DR. DREW" is up next. I`ll see you tomorrow night 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.