I recently received a message sent to me from former 1976 Logan County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Winter, who was involved in the 1976 Schneider triple homicide investigation. The message came from “A Facebook User” with no identifying profile picture attached other than the unidentifiable silhouette of a male image. This left me not knowing if the message was actually from Greg Winter. I’ve received some unusual and suspicious messages over the years. It was noted below the message that I couldn’t reply to it privately. I tend to think it was from Greg Winter because some of the information in the message he had presented to me before.
I’m compelled to respond to some of the claims and comments in the message I received in order to bring out the documented circumstances and facts through testimonies and records pertaining to the Drabing case. Some claims presented in the message from Greg Winter oppose established facts relating to the case and the Schneider murders.
Michael Edward Drabing (a resident of Lincoln, IL) was convicted of the August 19, 1976 stabbing murders of Lincoln residents Lloyd and Phyllis Schneider and their 17-year-old middle daughter, Terri. Drabing contended he acted alone when he killed the Schneiders. He said he really didn’t know them and had killed them as a “dry run” for his continued plan of a “revolution to exterminate the rich,” who he felt were causing all the problems in the world. Drabing admired Charles Manson and had read the book and watched the TV movie “Helter Skelter.” Some of his close friends had as well. The Schneider triple homicide has long been considered a Manson copycat crime. In addition to the stabbing murders of the Schneiders, Drabing also stabbed Menard inmate Jesse Sumner 9 times in 1981 and was sentenced to 30 years for that offense. So, Drabing is a repeat stabbing offender.
Drabing was transferred out of Menard Correctional Center in 2016, a maximum security facility. He had been at Menard from the time of his incarceration in January 1977. His security level was reduced to medium security when he entered Lawrence Correctional Center in Sumner, IL. This transfer took place after I released my trilogy, “Buried Truth,” in 2015. Drabing has again recently been transferred from Lawrence CC to Illinois River Correctional Center, a medium to high-risk adult male facility that seems to focus on counseling, education and re-entry into society.
I need to present a chronology of the crimes occurring in Lincoln, IL so that those unfamiliar with Lincoln and these particular murders can comprehend this post. My apologies if some of this is redundant to people from Lincoln who are aware of the history.
Drabing always claimed he drove his own car to and from the crime on August 19, and parked it 1 to 2 miles from the Schneider’s home. Exactly where he allegedly parked his car was never established with certainty. There’s serious question as whether he drove his car that night, and it’s especially questionable if he drove it home after the crime.
A series of murders occurred in and around Lincoln, IL in ’76. Seven people were murdered within a 10-month time frame. The first victim was Michael Mansfield, a 19-year-old Lincoln College honor student from Rolling Meadows, IL. Mansfield was an acquaintance of Lincoln College student Russell Albin Smrekar, who was a year older than Mansfield and a known thief from Joliet, IL. Smrekar had been in the Will County Jail prior to enrolling at Lincoln College. The Joliet PD was quite familiar with him. On September 18, 1975, a cunning thief entered the dorm room of two female Lincoln College students and made off with 150 record albums and an expensive guitar. That same evening Smrekar showed up at Mansfield’s dorm room with multiple stacks of LPs wanting to store them there temporarily. Mansfield reluctantly allowed him to do so. Smrekar then left campus and hitchhiked back to Joliet for the weekend.
Mansfield was non-confrontational by nature and intimidated by Smrekar. He suspected Russ had stolen the records, so he unloaded them near a trash chute in his dormitory. The college had been experiencing a rash of burglaries from the time Smrekar set foot on campus. A student who observed Mansfield relocating the stacks of records reported him to the Dean of Students. Mansfield was questioned, and even though he denied involvement in the burglary, he was arrested for Theft By Possession. Mansfield didn’t know anything about the stolen guitar; Smrekar had it with him when he hitchhiked to Joliet (not known at the time). Because the guitar’s value was $650.00, the burglary became a Theft Over $150 matter (a felony case). When Smrekar returned to campus, he was also charged and taken into custody.
Ultimately, the Logan County State’s Attorney’s office offered to defer Mansfield’s charge if he’d agree to turn state’s evidence and testify against Smrekar in court. Mansfield signed the Deferral of Prosecution Agreement on Dec. 18, ’75, and then he left Lincoln to return to Rolling Meadows for the Christmas/New Year break. Around two in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, he answered the phone at his parents house. His folks didn’t know who’d called, only that Michael was going out for about an hour and would be back. He walked out the door, was on foot (didn’t have a car), and left his wallet behind. That’s the last the Mansfield family saw of him, and to this day he’s never been found. He disappeared 6 days before his scheduled court appearance against Smrekar. Since Mansfield was a student at Lincoln College and residing in Lincoln, he’s regarded as the first murder in this series of 1976 Logan County, IL murders.
The second victim was 51-year-old Lincoln, IL real estate agent Ruth Louise Martin. Ruth was a witness to an October 1, 1975 Kroger shoplifting incident involving Smrekar. Eight days prior to the shoplifting, the Lincoln College Judiciary Board had found Smrekar guilty of the dorm room theft. He was expelled and instructed to never return to campus without written permission from the Dean. So, at the time of Mansfield’s disappearance, Smrekar was also the defendant in the Theft Under $150 Kroger case. Ruth Martin had been shopping at Kroger when Smrekar lifted a package containing two ribeyes and casually made his way out of the store without paying. Employee Jay Fry (24) witnessed Smrekar stick the steaks under his jacket, and he promptly alerted the store managers. Fry and the managers went after Smrekar, who ditched the steaks under Ruth Martin’s car just as she was making her way back to it with her groceries. Ruth didn’t see much, only the backside of a long-haired hippy running through the parking lot. Smrekar was apprehended and arrested. Both Ruth Martin and Jay Fry became witnesses against Smrekar. Ruth wasn’t called for the first shoplifting trial, only Fry, but it ended with a hung jury. After the mistrial, the prosecution decided they’d better subpoena Ruth for the second trial, but it also ended in a mistrial. A third trial was scheduled for June 8, ’76.
On Wednesday, June 2, ’76, Ruth failed to show up for work, which was unusual. Her coworkers went to her home on two different occasions, but both times Ruth and her car were gone. By late afternoon on the 2nd, a large bloodstain and a spent, mutilated .22 caliber bullet were found in the garage. By evening, Ruth and her car were officially reported missing. Her husband had last seen her in bed that morning at 6:40.
Two days later on the 4th, the Martin Pontiac Catalina was reported in the Bloomington Holiday Inn parking lot (30 miles north of Lincoln) with a flat right front tire. It had first been seen by motel patrons at 6 p.m. on June 2nd, the same day she disappeared. A substantial amount of blood was found covering the trunk mat, but Ruth remained missing. Additional evidence was discovered and collected from her car. On June 8th, a family fishing across the highway from the Martin subdivision found a partially burned, bloody T-shirt in a makeshift fire pit on a sandbar on the fringe of Kickapoo Creek Park. All these years later, facts and evidence support that this blood evidence is the source of a Lincoln IL Police Department cover-up, which is ongoing to this day. This evidence has been concealed for years and provides the name of a suspect on the shirt’s collar. The name is “R.Jone, with a cut occurring immediately after the E.” The details of this bombshell blood evidence and the name on the collar of the shirt were withheld from Logan County State’s Attorney Roger Thompson in 1976 by LPD leading Detective William A. Krueger. Krueger knowingly and intentionally gave Roger Thompson false information pertaining to this critical evidence in the unsolved murder of Ruth Martin.
Ruth Martin was never found. She, like Mike Mansfield, disappeared 6 days before she was to testify against Smrekar in court. She was obviously abducted and murdered based on the amount of blood in the Martin garage, the spent bullet, the blood covering her car’s trunk mat, and the blood on the T-shirt evidence. The bloody shirt had to have been used to wipe up the blood on the Martin’s garage floor because someone had spread it over a larger area trying to clean it up. The material used to do that was removed from the Martin residence by the perpetrator(s). Whoever was involved in burning the bloody shirt on the sandbar in the creek had also cut it in strips prior to setting it on fire. This demonstrated concerted effort to make the shirt burn in order to destroy the evidence; for what other reasons would someone have gone to such extremes?
Shortly before Ruth Martin disappeared, I began working as a deputy circuit clerk in the Logan County Courthouse. I was 19. My best friend, Theresa, was also employed as a clerk, as was another girl I knew who was a close friend of Terri Schneider. I’d gone to West Lincoln School with the three Schneider girls, and I’d been on the cheerleading squad with Nancy Schneider. So, I knew the Schneider family. A guy named Rick Jones (21) was employed as the bailiff for Associate Judge Robert Thornton during my employment at the courthouse. Thornton had been the former Police Magistrate prior to becoming a judge. I’d known Rick Jones since I was in kindergarten, although not well. He lived in my neighborhood at the north entry of our subdivision, directly across the street from the Lincoln Holiday Inn. He was two years older and in my brother’s class in high school. Rick Jones was a close friend of Michael Drabing. Rick and Michael had a mutual close friend, Pat Hanley, who had dated my friend, Cindy Lewis, in high school. The three guys (all 21) were closely tied to each other during high school and especially up to the time of the 1976 murders. Rick Jones’ father was the Lincoln Community High School superintendent, and Pat Hanley’s mother was Dr. Jones’ personal secretary. Mrs. Hanley was also a close friend of Judge Thornton’s wife, who was on the high school board.
On July 16, ’76, Nancy Schneider (20) had a big outdoor party at her parent’s property. A band had been hired to perform, and there were about 400 kids (or more) at this kegger. I arrived at the party late, and not long after I got there I witnessed the first confrontation. Hanley, Drabing, and Jones were inside the Schneider’s house, and Phyllis Schneider had caught them snooping around and was clearly upset. She was confronting Hanley, who was doing all the talking and being insolent. I left the area because it was uncomfortable and it involved Jones, the bailiff. By this time the party had gotten out of hand, and Lloyd called it off soon after I got there.
The second confrontation I witnessed involved Lloyd and Pat Hanley. Hanley was in his truck at the wheel, with Drabing and Jones as his passengers, when he began backing into some bushes bordering the front yard. Lloyd was perturbed, and he and Hanley were arguing. Hanley seemed to be intentionally trying to piss off Lloyd, who’d threatened to call the cops on Hanley.
The final confrontation (this is the condensed version) I witnessed alone, and it also involved Hanley and Lloyd. This was an intense exchange that ended with Hanley shouting that he was going to “get” and “KILL” Lloyd. It was unnerving to watch. Initially, Hanley, Drabing, and Jones weren’t aware I was witnessing the incident, but when Lloyd said he was going to call the police, I decided I needed to get out of there. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I was also the State’s Attorney’s daughter. Once I turned on the ignition and the headlights, I was outed. I was scared to death that Hanley, Drabing and Jones might come after me. As it was, Hanley tried to run me off the road, and then he stopped his pickup on the Fifth Street bridge over Kickapoo Creek and prevented me from crossing it. Hanley and Drabing got out of the truck, and Hanley was calling out to me from the bridge trying to coax me to get out of my car. I rolled up all the windows and locked the car doors. Jones never got out of Hanley’s truck — he stayed inside seated in the center of the cab. Finally, a car approaching in the distance behind me caused Hanley and Drabing to get back into the truck, and then they eventually proceeded to the Lincoln bar where all the other partygoers had planned to congregate. I did tell some people (including my father) about the confrontations I witnessed at the party in the days subsequent.
On Wednesday, August 18, ’76, Rick Jones appeared in the back part of the circuit clerk’s office looking bedraggled. He admitted he’d basically been out all night and had just gotten home [to his parents’ house] “at 6:30 a.m. and some weird things had happened.” Despite our prodding, he wouldn’t elaborate. Later that day he returned to the circuit clerk’s office. I was doing some mundane sorting and filing when he got a cup of coffee and sat down beside me. I was never comfortable around him. Over the silence, he blurted out with a smirk on his face, “Somethin’ big and somethin’ bad’s gonna happen.” I stopped what I was doing and asked what he meant. He said, “Somethin’ bad’s gonna happen. Somethin’ big.” I asked, “What?” He was gloating about the fact that he knew something I didn’t know. He enjoyed delivering that ominous information, had nothing more to say, and left me to wonder what the hell he was talking about. The next night, something big and bad happened in Lincoln, something historic and horrific. The Schneiders were heinously murdered.
So, following the mysterious disappearance of Ruth Martin, the Schneider’s were murdered on August 19, 76, and 21-year-old Michael Drabing, who was employed as a house painter at the time, was the only one arrested and charged with the killings. These murders created a run on deadbolt locks in the community. Prior to trial and also at the time of trial, it was revealed that Drabing had first planned to kill the Schneiders on Tuesday, August 17th, but he changed his mind because he went out with Pat Hanley and Rick Jones that night, instead. The three guys were in Jones’ car, and they were somewhere in the park outside of his vehicle when they were approached by the park ranger who made “a big deal” about something they were doing. It was after hours and the park was closed, so the ranger kicked them out. On the night Drabing had originally planned to kill the Schneiders, he, Hanley, and bailiff R. Jones were in the very park where the “partially burned, bloody T-shirt” had been found just a couple months prior — the shirt containing the name “R.Jone, with a cut occurring immediately after the E” on the back inside collar. It’s interesting that during the time Rick Jones was in high school, male students were instructed to print their first initial and last name on the back inside collar of their white T-shirts for Boys PE class. Hanley, Drabing, and Jones all graduated from Lincoln Community High School in 1973.
In the spring of ’76, Cindy Lewis (Goodman) began sharing an apartment with my good friend (and coworker), Theresa; it was on the second floor of a house located on the corner of Tremont and Water Streets in Lincoln. The weekend immediately following the Schneider triple homicide, there was a strange car stalking the apartment, but we weren’t able to identify the driver. Drabing’s good friend Pat Hanley, who was allegedly in Jacksonville, IL at Illinois College, hadn’t been located and hadn’t surfaced in Lincoln. Theresa, Cindy and I suspected the driver of the car was Hanley. Hanley had phoned the apartment a few times wanting to speak to Cindy. Cindy did intercept one of the calls from Hanley. She claimed she asked him where he was and he told her he was “driving around trying to get his head clear.”
The Sunday afternoon following the murders, an envelope bearing no stamp on it was hand-delivered to Theresa’s apartment mailbox. Written on the outside of it was just “Cindy.” None of us were there when the envelope was delivered, and Cindy was gone when Theresa and I spied it in the mailbox and pulled it out. When Cindy came back to the apartment, Theresa handed her the envelope, and Cindy reluctantly opened it. She was speechless at first and had a scared look on her face. I had to ask her who it was from twice before she exhaled, “Michael.” Cindy clearly meant Michael Drabing, but she wouldn’t divulge what was in the letter. The stalking car appeared again shortly thereafter, and Cindy left the apartment, didn’t return, and moved back home with her parents.
The letter had to have been from Hanley. Michael Drabing was in the Sangamon County Jail in Springfield, IL charged with a triple homicide when that letter showed up, he certainly hadn’t delivered it. Hanley, though, was at large and had been trying to connect with Cindy. Why was there such an urgency and need of secrecy to connect with Cindy? What did Cindy possibly know? What was in that letter that CAUSED her to abruptly move out of Theresa’s apartment? To this day, Cindy Lewis Goodman has not revealed to me what was in that letter, and she’s now claiming she can’t remember. SHE IS LYING. That letter was probably the most important evidence in the Schneider triple homicide, and it most likely proved accomplices had been involved.
CINDY LEWIS GOODMAN NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH. SHE’S WITHHOLDING CRITICAL EVIDENCE IN A HISTORICAL TRIPLE MURDER CASE AND SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED FULLY.
A few months after the Schneider murders, Jay Fry and his pregnant wife, Robin (both 24), were shotgunned to death in their Lincoln home during the early morning hours of October 9, ’76. On October 18, 76, Russell Smrekar was arrested at the Logan County Courthouse while appearing for a hearing in the Kroger shoplifting case. Smrekar was placed in the same Macon County Jail (Decatur, IL) cell with Michael Drabing pending their separate murder trials.
And now, back the Greg Winter message and the claims presented about the Drabing case.
Greg Winter has provided information to me in the past in an attempt to validate that Drabing acted alone. The problem is, some of the information he’s given me has been erroneous, unsubstantiated, and has opposed documented facts. Winter said in this recent message, “During a break in the Drabing trial [which took place in early December of 1976], I, along with [Logan County Deputy] Stu Erlenbush talked with Drabing off stag regarding where we surmised he had parked his car during the murders.” Winter told me that he, Erlenbush, and another person/deputy had “tracked” Drabing’s “tennis shoe print to a close proximity of ameal corm [sic] crib about 1300 feet from the residence.” Winter further claimed this area was in “the bean field next to the [Schneider’s] house,” and that Drabing had (allegedly) confirmed this to him and Erlenbush as the place he’d parked his car when they approached him at the time of trial. Winter said this corn crib “no longer appears on Google maps.” The distance of 1300 feet is .025 miles, far less than a full mile.
There are many red flags concerning Drabing’s claims about driving his own car to and from the crime and parking it 1 to 2 miles away from the Schneider residence. Drabing was examined by a number of psychiatrists pretrial. In a November 30, ‘76 report by Dr. C. Robert Clonginer, he wrote that Drabing told him he “parked his car in a cornfield 2 miles away,” and “he walked 2 miles and scouted the place [Schneider’s house]”. At the December ’76 trial, Drabing was shown an arial view of the Schneider’s property and asked where he’d parked his car. He testified, “I parked my car and got the rest of my gear, started going through the cornfields, pretty hard to do at night, went back and started going down the road, and a couple cars came by, I ducked in the weeds, so to speak.” He said he parked his car somewhere in the vicinity “off to the side in the cornfield.” Drabing further testified, “I started to go through the cornfield like that, I saw that was a little bit too difficult at that time by taking too long. I went down to the road until I came to somewhere right in here and started cutting across it. (indicating.)”
Drabing also told several psychiatrists prior to trial that after he fled the Schneider’s, he ran (tired, injured, stumbling, and falling) a mile or more back to his car and passed squad cars traveling in the opposite direction to the Schneider crime scene on his way home. What Drabing described at trial does not seem to match what Winter recently claimed in his message to me. Plus, just finding shoe prints (if really found where Winter claims) does not confirm that Drabing parked his car where the prints were located. Drabing was all over the place around the Schneider’s, in fields, going down this road and that road, and walking around the property. Winter said nothing about finding tire marks at this alleged corn crib 1300 feet from the home, or that the tire marks matched Drabing’s Ford Torino. Drabing’s car weighed a lot more than he did. So, if Drabing’s tennis shoe prints were so visible, why wouldn’t tire marks from his car also be embedded in the soil next to his shoe prints? What about photographs of the shoe prints and tire marks?
When Drabing first entered the home that night and held Terri at gunpoint with his unloaded J.C. Higgins revolver, the only other person there was her 20-year-old boyfriend, Jeff Richardson (a Lincoln Christian College student). Earlier that evening, eldest daughter Nancy Schneider, youngest daughter Sheryl (16), and Lloyd and Phyllis Schneider had left home to attend planned events. Drabing first took Terri through the home searching the house for her boyfriend, whom he’d seen inside while looking through windows. Jeff was in Terri’s bedroom when he heard Drabing barge in and the front door hit against a common wall in the bedroom. He also heard Terri’s screams. Jeff didn’t know what to do, so he got down on the floor next to one of the twin beds and hid between it and the wall.
After Drabing completed his search, he took Terri to her bedroom and had her lie on the floor face down while he tied her wrists and ankles with rope. He had the unloaded gun, some rope wrapped around his waist, and a Ka-Bar knife with him. There was a stereo in Terri’s bedroom, and he politely asked if he could play some records. His preference was the Beatles, but she didn’t have any Beatles so he settled for Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Drabing sat down on a chair and listened to the music. Then he asked how many phones were in the house. He heard a noise and stood up to cut the phone cord in Terri’s bedroom and found Jeff hiding. Drabing had him lie face down on the floor and tied him in the same manner as Terri. Drabing asked Jeff if he’d called anyone. He hadn’t. Drabing then waited for the rest of the family to return home. In the interim, he left the bedroom a number of times to wander to other areas of the house out of sight. Following the murders, one witness who was present when Jeff was being questioned by investigators reported that Jeff said he thought “he heard another voice,” while Drabing was wandering around the house, meaning a voice other than Drabing‘s.
Greg Winter claimed in his message that Drabing “was sweet on Terri, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with him.” This isn’t true. The gossip back then was that Drabing had asked Terri out a number of times and she’d turned him down. Years later, Drabing told me this wasn’t true, and he never asked her out. This was also confirmed by Jeff Richardson who testified at trial. He said that while he and Terri were tied up and on the floor, and Drabing had left the bedroom, he asked her if she knew Drabing or if she’d ever seen him before. She answered, “No.” Drabing then came back to the bedroom and said, “No talking allowed,” and he gagged them with some torn towels.
Earlier that evening, Nancy Schneider had dropped Sheryl off at her boyfriend’s house prior to joining her women’s softball team at a scheduled game. Lloyd and Phyllis attended a Lincoln Community Theater play that night. I was also at the production sitting several seats away from them in the same aisle. After the softball game was over, Nancy picked up Sheryl and dropped her off at Phyllis Schneider’s mother’s house. When the play ended, Lloyd and Phyllis picked up Sheryl at the grandmother’s house and drove home.
When the Schneiders reached home, Drabing saw their car headlights coming up the long (600-some foot) lane, and he hid in a bathroom off the hallway. Phyllis was the first inside, and Drabing stepped out with the gun as she entered the hall. She made an outcry and immediately asked where Terri was. He told her in her bedroom and to go in there and sit down. Phyllis bolted to the bedroom and was able to partially untie Terri. Drabing found Lloyd in a nearby room placing his suit coat on a chair, and Sheryl was also there. He confronted them. At first, Lloyd thought the whole thing was a joke. Drabing then herded them to the bedroom and stood just outside the doorway in the hallway as he ordered them to lie down on their bellies. Phyllis and Lloyd were pleading with him to not harm them, and he could have anything he wanted. He wanted them to get on the floor. It was at that moment Phyllis lunged at the bedroom door and slammed it in Drabing’s face. Lloyd also lunged at the door, and they were barricading it shut with their bodies. Drabing was going ballistic on the other side and threatening to shoot through the door, but there were no bullets in the gun (which his victims didn’t know at first). While all this was going on, Phyllis was directing the kids to get out the window.
Sheryl was the first to escape, then Jeff. Terri was next, but as she was about to go out the window the door began splintering and breaking away from the hinges and framework. Terri turned back to help her parents as the door gave way and the three of them spilled into the hallway. Drabing testified they were all rushing him at once, and he pulled out his knife and began stabbing and slashing while still holding the gun. Drabing testified, “I could see the blood all over the walls, the door, all over the carpet and everything.” People involved in the investigation also reported seeing blood everywhere in the hallway, on the walls, ceiling and carpeting. The killings occurred somewhere between 11:15 and 11:30 that night. Drabing is the only witness who has ever reported what allegedly occurred inside the home during and immediately following the murders. After escaping, Sheryl ran in one direction (northeast) to a neighboring farmhouse, and Jeff ran in the opposite direction (southeast) toward another farm. While they were running, Lloyd, Phyllis and Terri were being murdered.
After stabbing his victims in what was described as a bloodbath, Drabing testified he “stood there and admired” his “work.” He heard “gurgling, gasping, and wheezing,” so he stabbed them some more. Then after they weren’t moving or making sounds, he watched them bleed and looked around some more at all the blood on the walls. The three victims were stabbed a total of 90 times. Drabing sat down to rest because he was very tired, and he noticed his right pant leg was cut. Left-handed Drabing had sustained an alleged self-inflicted deep slice wound on his outer right calf. Then he realized he’d lost the gun during his struggle with Lloyd, and he thought he’d better look for it. He looked around but couldn’t find it. How long did that take? He walked to the front of the house, opened the door, and looked out. He went back near the bodies and sat down again “for a couple more minutes.” He decided he’d better leave. He testified he went out the front door and started walking down the sidewalk, bloody and bleeding from his own leg wound, and he “realized two of them got away.” He decided he should tried to find them. All these movements carried out by Drabing took additional TIME. He concluded he wouldn’t be able to find Sheryl and Jeff, and he’d lost the gun, was wounded, and the cops would be arriving soon, so he felt he might as well go home. He apparently ran eastwardly down the lengthy front lawn toward the gravel road running north and south in front of the Schneider’s property. The lawn had recently been mowed, and there were lengthy blades of dead grass lying on the surface. Drabing’s jeans were especially bloody, and the lawn was also moist, so his jeans collected a lot of dirt and grass as he ran through the yard along the lane. He was still holding the Ka-Bar knife while he was running, and he said he was just too tired to hold on to it, so he finally dropped it because he just “didn’t feel like holding it anymore.” He allegedly continued running back to his car, 1 to 2 miles away.
After Drabing returned to his mother’s house, where he was living at the time with his younger brother, Mark, Mrs. Drabing called Dr. Glen Tomlinson to come to her house because Michael was wounded, “bleeding profusely,” and “not really with it” or responding to questions. Dr. Tomlinson testified at trial he arrived at the Drabing residence “soon after or around midnight” the early morning of August 20, ’76. He’d also attended the Community Theater production that night. He further testified he got to the Drabing house “approximately 20 minutes after” receiving Mrs. Drabing’s call. She’d made that call shortly after Michael had gotten home and was obviously in need of medical attention. By Dr. Tomlinson’s recall (under oath), this means Michael got home somewhere between 11:40 and 11:45 p.m., or soon thereafter. It was a 10-minute drive to the Drabing home from the Schneider’s property. Tomlinson also said Michael’s wound was approximately 30 minutes old when he first inspected it. He ended up driving Michael to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital ER in his own car (just several blocks from the Drabing house) to suture his wound.
At the hospital, Dr. Tomlinson began asking him questions about how he’d injured his leg. Drabing said he thought he’d done it to himself while he was stabbing the other people. By this time Tomlinson was aware of the situation west of town at the Schneider’s — ambulances had been summoned. Michael was eventually placed in a guarded hospital room. Tomlinson testified at trial that Drabing told him he’d acted alone in the killings and had driven his own car and parked it “a mile or so away” and then walked to the Schneider’s house. Tomlinson was asked a second time where Drabing had told him he’d parked his car. Tomlinson testified, “About a mile from there, quite a ways away from there.” Tomlinson, years later in 2002, once again confirmed to me that he arrived at the Drabing house “around midnight” and “about 20 minutes after” getting Mrs. Drabing’s call. He also confirmed again, and did not waver, in that Drabing had told him he’d parked his car a mile or more away from the Schneider’s home and walked through fields to get there. The clothing Drabing was wearing that night was taken into evidence at the hospital, and his clothes contained blood and trace evidence. However, there was a conspicuously small amount of blood on Drabing’s two shirts.
From Drabing’s description of what happened after he broke down the bedroom door and the killing began, and through the additional movements he made while watching and listening to his victims gurgling, stabbing them some more, sitting down resting, looking for the gun, moving around and looking for the two who escaped, that was quite a bit of time-consuming activity he carried out. When he finally decided to flee the crime scene and run back to his car, he had to cover a distance 1 to 2 miles, tired, stumbling, falling, injured and bleeding the whole way back. Once he reached his car, he then had to drive for at least 10 minutes to get to his house.
In regard to where Drabing said he had allegedly parked his car, and the distance he had to run to get to his car and then drive home while passing the police en route, Deputy Greg Winter stated his strong opinion during a confidential meeting in my father State’s Attorney Roger Thompson’s office on August 30, 1976 (just 11 days subsequent to the Schneider triple homicide). Winter said, “He [Drabing] couldn’t have gotten to his car in time and met the squad cars and went back into town.” Another investigator at this meeting agreed. Winter continued, “Especially if he said he went outside and looked for Sheryl and Jeff and looked inside for them and tried to find the gun and sat down for a couple minutes. There’s just no way he could have gone that far that fast.” Yet, SOMEHOW, Drabing had managed to go that far that fast. Winter never mentioned that he and Deputy Erlenbush had found Drabing’s shoe prints by a meal corn crib 1300 feet from the Schneider’s home. Erlenbush also attended this confidential meeting, and he mentioned nothing about this. They were still trying to figure out where Drabing had parked his car on August 30th. Drabing SOMEHOW arrived home in a shorter length of time than it should have taken him to get there after fleeing the crime, running 1 to 2 miles to get back to his car, then allegedly driving home and arriving there “20 minutes prior” to Dr. Tomlinson’s arrival “around midnight” on August 20, ’76. Realistically, this was a physical impossibility IF Drabing had acted alone in the murders without assistance.
The most important anomaly discussed at the August 30, 1976 confidential meeting in Roger Thompson’s office — and discussed in conjunction with where Drabing had allegedly parked his car (still undetermined then) — was that NO BLOOD OR TRACE EVIDENCE OF ANY KIND HAD BEEN FOUND IN DRABING’S FORD TORINO. NONE. The following is verbatim dialogue:
Roger Thompson stated in response to the complete lack of evidence in Drabing’s car, “This is one of these things, trying to prove a negative [no evidence found in the car], gets almost impossible. I’m sure that the stories are going to go on for years and years that somebody else was involved and to the extent that we can either prove or disprove it, I think we should. That’s why on this car [Drabing’s Ford Torino], I’ve been reluctant to say, ‘Okay, give it back to Mrs. Drabing.’ Getting back to that car, do you think it has been processed just as completely as possible at this point?”
Trooper Ken Otey answered: “There’s nothing there. I think we’ve done about all we can do with it right now. I don’t know what else we can get out of it, unless Bob [Schacht] would have some suggestions.”
Bob Schacht: “No, because of all the running and as wet as his tennis shoes were and, like you said, from the grass and dirt that was on his pants, there just wasn’t any of this present in that car.” Schacht confirmed that Drabing’s car was thoroughly inspected, and it didn’t appear to have been wiped down at all. He said, “There was still quite a bit of dust settled in certain areas of the door sills and along that area,” and they’d checked the steering wheel, which was described as being “clean as a whistle,” and they found nothing on the door handles, the front seat or passenger side or in the rear of the car. Schacht verified, “Everything we found and pointed out to Ron Smith [the crime scene technician] as far as chemical testing for blood was negative. It didn’t show traces of blood anyway.”
Nor was any of the trace evidence found on Drabing’s clothing discovered in his car. It was also brought out at this meeting that no tire mark impressions were found and no photos were taken of tire marks from Drabing’s Ford Torino.
Roger Thompson ultimately voiced his gut feeling, “Well, as far as any other person or persons involved in this, the only person who I can think of at all as being suspicious in that respect would be this Pat Hanley.” Thompson ordered investigators to go to Jacksonville where Hanley was enrolled at Illinois College to “check out his alibi.”
By this time there was talk in Lincoln (by locals and law enforcement) that accomplices had assisted Drabing. I fully believed from what I’d witnessed and experienced prior to and after the murders that Drabing’s two close friends, James Patrick Hanley and Logan County Courthouse BAILIFF Richard Lee “Rick”Jones, had also been involved. Recapping: At the July 16, ’76 party at the Schneider’s property I had witnessed one confrontation between Hanley, Drabing, and Jones and Phyllis Schneider and also two confrontations the three men had with Lloyd Schneider. It was Hanley who’d threatened during the final exchange that he was going to “get” and “kill” Lloyd. Later on August 18, ’76 (the day before the Schneider murders), bailiff Rick Jones approached me in the back of the circuit clerk’s office and told me with a smile on his face, “Somethin’ big and somethin’ bad’s gonna happen.” Rick Jones knew the Schneiders were going to be murdered. He obviously knew about it in advance, and he seemed thrilled — so thrilled he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
Roger Thompson named only Pat Hanley as a possible accomplice to Drabing, but at this time Roger was not fully aware of the important details pertaining to the bloody T-shirt evidence in the Martin case — specifically the NAME “R.JONE, with a cut occurring immediately after the E” on the collar. Had Roger Thompson known about that name on the collar, he surely would have suspected both Pat Hanley AND bailiff Rick Jones as accomplices in the Schneider murders. But the LPD had chosen to intentionally withhold that critical Martin case detail from Roger Thompson.
Years later, in 2003, I met with former Deputy Stuart Erlenbush who’d just retired from the Illinois State Police. We met at the Lincoln Police Department, and I was discussing Drabing’s Ford Torino and that no blood or trace evidence had been found inside it. Erlenbush began insisting that blood was found in Drabing’s car. I told him that wasn’t true at all, and that all “the chemical testing for blood was negative,” and no trace of blood was found anywhere. I added that none of the trace evidence on Drabing’s clothes had been found in his car either. Erlenbush continued to argued with me, saying blood was found. I finally had to read the dialogue from the confidential memorandum (which I had with me) to prove him wrong. He just shut up after that and had a defeated look on his face and also a look of having been caught in a lie. Erlenbush knew nothing was found in Drabing’s car, that #FACT was fully discussed in his presence on August 30, ’76. So, why did he try to tell me otherwise? There were other important and disturbing things Erlenbush was not truthful about.
The night the Schneiders were killed, Logan County dispatch received the first call about a “man holding man and woman at gunpoint” at 11:41 p.m. on August 19, ‘76. That call was placed after Sheryl Schneider had run a considerable distance to the neighboring Aukamp farm and broken in to call for help. Deputy Stuart Erlenbush arrived at the Schneider crime scene at 11:49 that night. He testified at trial that three officers had arrived just prior to his arrival (at 11:48), and an additional officer arrived on the heels of his arrival. Erlenbush was inside the house at first, and then he went outside with some other officers.
Greg Winter recently said Erlenbush was with him when Drabing’s alleged shoe prints were found near the corn crib 1300 feet from the Schneider’s house. Winter and Erlenbush testified at the Drabing trial. During Erlenbush’s testimony he was specifically asked, “Did you participate in the search of the outbuildings and surrounding area?” Erlenbush answered, “No, I didn’t.” He was asked, “What did you do?” He responded, “I interviewed Sheryl Schneider.” He was asked if he’d obtained a statement from Sheryl, and he said, “Yes.” Again, in 2003 Erlenbush was not truthful with me about a number of things. He withheld from me that he’d interviewed Sheryl Schneider when I had directly asked him questions about her interview and the interview of Jeff Richardson — both interviews are highly important. Erlenbush withheld other information from me, fabricated information, and lied to me. It now seems Winter has also been untruthful because the trial transcripts confirm that up to the time of trial (December ’76) Erlenbush WAS NOT involved in any “search of the outbuildings and surrounding area” near the Schneider’s house.
At trial, Drabing was asked to show the Judge the way he left and how he got back to his car. Drabing testified, while referring to a diagram (which we unfortunately don’t have now), “Well, basically I came down through here someway to this road, ran down this road, back up this road to a bridge, and you can see lights at night from a long distance away, and saw flashing lights, and I knew it was the police.” He was asked, “Flashing lights from Fifth Street Road?” He responded, “Yeah, way out there, so I kind of ran, looking back that way when they got close, almost there, there is some type of bridge there, small bridge, and when I was almost to there, which is practically in the bean field, beginning of the cornfield, I decided I will duck back in, and the policeman came in and turned down that way, when he was out of the way, I got back up and went to my car then.” Drabing had also admitted that while he was running and falling he couldn’t get his wound to stop bleeding. Why would Drabing testify to this (and other descriptions) at trial, but then allegedly confirm “during a break” in the trial a different location where he parked his car to Winter and Erlenbush?
Winter pointed out in his message that the murder weapon, the Ka-Bar knife, was found “in the yard on the south side of drive way [sic]” along the lane leading to and from the Schneider’s house. This is true. The knife was FINALLY found “5 feet south of the driveway leading to the Schneider residence and approximately 600 feet in straight line from the front of the house.” Following the crime, authorities had been over that lawn extensively (and with a metal detector) and hadn’t found the knife anywhere. Then it was suddenly discovered on Sunday following the Thursday night murders. Some people back at that time (including my father’s assistant state’s attorney) were “cynical” about it taking so long to locate the knife, and they wondered if it had been planted there by an accomplice after the murders. This is a distinct possibility, and on Sunday Hanley’s whereabouts were still unknown, and he was “driving around trying to get his head clear.” There was definitely a question as to whether accomplices had been involved, especially following the inspection of Drabing’s Ford Torino. Winter stated in his message that the location of the knife indicated that Drabing “began his escape in the direction of his car.” The location of the knife’s latent discovery doesn’t indicate or prove anything of the kind. There are other important facts supporting that Drabing could have fled down the Schneider’s front lawn for other reasons — one reason being that he was expecting someone else to pick him up in another car.
Winter also claimed in his message to me, “We didn’t find any foot prints of him [Drabing] leaving the house because I don’t remember looking for them once we found where we thought he had parked his car. Therefore, only 1300 feet, approximately from where I remembered the crib was located wouldn’t have taken that long for him to get back to his car and meet the squads heading out to the scene.” But in the Aug. 30, ’76 confidential meeting (11 days after the murders) Winter brought out nothing about this claim he’s now making and, instead, he emphatically stated, “There’s just no way he could have gone that far that fast,” in reference to Drabing having passed the squad cars en route to the murders and his returning home as quickly as he had. In regard to Winter’s claim, “We didn’t find any foot prints of him leaving the house,” he’s either feeding me intentionally bad information, or he’s forgetting that Stuart Erlenbush was the one who did, in fact, find Drabing’s bloody right shoe print on the Schneider’s front door stoop exiting the house. It was also reported that some drops of blood were possibly found on the sidewalk extending away from the house.
So, my experience has been that both Winter and Erlenbush have tried to validate that Drabing acted alone with some FALSE INFORMATION. The distance Drabing said he was running, through cornfields, down this road and up that road to where there was a small bridge, does not fit Winter’s alleged bean field corn crib location. Drabing never changed the distance away from where he claimed he parked his car from the Schneider’s, BUT did he even park HIS car anywhere out there? Possibly, but one thing is for certain, the interior of his car DOES NOT SUPPORT he drove it home himself or that he was in it after supposedly single-handedly murdering the Schneiders.
Back in 1976, Cindy Lewis Goodman’s mother, Jill Lewis, was employed as a parking enforcement officer (meter maid) for the City of Lincoln. The City Hall and the Lincoln PD were housed in the same building situated directly kitty-corner from the Logan County Courthouse. The Logan County Sheriff’s office was located in the courthouse directly next to the Circuit Clerk’s office. So, on August 18, ’76, when bailiff Rick Jones told me “somethin’ big and somethin’ bad was gonna happen,” he could have gone promptly to the Sheriff’s office to alert them about it, but instead he came to me with that warning. Rick Jones was familiar with most Logan County law enforcement, as was his boss former Police Magistrate Judge Thornton. Local politics, political connections, people’s positions and status in the community, and who knew who and so on were factors in ’76; those same factors are still in place today, enough for the cover-up to continue. This should be considered while reviewing the established facts and evidence, along with the NEW facts and evidence, pertaining to these murders that DEMAND AND WARRANT, WITHOUT QUESTION, OFFICIAL REINVESTIGATION AND DNA TESTING OF EVIDENCE.
Lastly, I must point out an important additional fact. Former Logan County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Winter was married to Cindy Lewis Goodman’s younger (and only) sister. They have since divorced, but they have children together and are still connected. So, Greg Winter has an intimate relationship to his former wife’s older sister, Cindy, who came into ownership of CRITICAL EVIDENCE IN THE DRABING CASE (Cindy claimed the letter was from “Michael”). This evidence has been ignored for 45 YEARS. The past 45 years have shown a serious neglect by the legal system and law enforcement in Logan County to investigate Cindy Lewis Goodman and the evidence she possessed (and may still have) relating to the historical multiple stabbing murders of Lloyd, Phyllis, and Terri Schneider. This is appalling. I believe this is also another reason for this ongoing cover-up in #LoganCounty, #LincolnIL. This begs the question, what might Greg Winter know about the hand-delivered letter Cindy received on August 22, 1976? Where’s that letter, Cindy? It’s a crime to destroy evidence.
Based on the passage of time and the obvious obligation that Logan County law enforcement has had to pursue all leads and evidence relating to the Schneider triple homicide AND the Ruth Martin case, it’s my strong opinion that the only town to be named after and christened by Abe Lincoln before he became famous is more interested in and committed to concealing and suppressing information and evidence in these murders than they are in pursuing #TruthAndJustice for the murdered victims. After all, certain people’s lives might be disrupted, even ruined, if official investigation were to be pursued — scandalous facts and the reality of what really happened in ’76 could surface and attract national media attention.
Is there any law enforcement agency in the state of Illinois truly committed to the pursuit of justice? Will an appropriate agency finally step forward and carry out their duty to pursue all leads and evidence and conduct proper and thorough investigation into these 1976 Logan County murders? This, of course, includes thorough investigation into the Lincoln IL Police Department.
THE CLOCK IS STILL TICKING, and people are dying and the evidence is aging. Authorities in Lincoln, IL are trying to run out the clock. What about the City of Lincoln? It seems the City and its Council have responsibilities as well. This is why oversight by an outside agency would be absolutely necessary in order to guarantee the public that duties and laws will be followed in the event of potential future investigation.
Truth and Justice,
Bonnie J. Thompson, Investigative Writer/Author of “Buried Truth, The Unabridged Trilogy.” Registered Copyrights 2013, 2015, 2017. All rights reserved. Content in this post is under copyright.