Preble County, Ohio Prosecutor's OfficeMartin P. Votel, Prosecuting Attorney

Gabriel Schaaf Convicted of Aggravated Murder In Death of Son

Published on January 30th, 2018


A Preble County petit jury has convicted Gabriel Schaff, age 58, in the bludgeoning death of his 29-year-old son Jonothan Schaaf on or about December 26, 2016.

On January 23, 2018, a Preble County jury handed down guilty verdicts against defendant Gabriel Schaaf, age 58, of Lewisburg. Mr. Schaff stood trial for the aggravated murder of his son, Jonathan Schaaf, age 29 years.

On the evening of December 27, 2016, the defendant placed a frantic 911 from his home at 3994 Sonora Road; he reported that he had just returned home from work to find his door ajar and the body of his son on the living room floor. The defendant told the Sheriff’s Office that two “guys from Eldorado” had threatened his son several weeks before, and that the victim had also received text message threats from an unknown female. The Sheriff’s Office pursued these leads with no breaks in the investigation. On June 8, 2017, detectives re-interviewed the defendant and confronted him with inconsistencies in his statements and incongruities between his statement(s) and the physical evidence in the case. The defendant finally admitting to killing Jonathan with a large wooden “stick” and a hatchet, but suggested he acted in self-defense. The defendant admitted that the 911 call had been a lie – an attempt to point the finger of suspicion at an unknown “intruder”.

The State of Ohio was represented by Prosecuting Attorney Martin P. Votel and the defendant by defense attorney Kirsten Knight, Judge David N. Abruzzo presiding. The state presented the testimony of the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Jonathan Schaaf. The pathologist confirmed that the victim had been hit in the head several times with “great force”, shattering his skull and causing a severe brain bleed. After this, the back of the victim’s neck sustained 5 “chopping” injuries, the most significant of which cut the spinal column in half, nearly decapitating the victim. In the state’s estimation, the defendant’s claim of self-defense was defeated by this physical evidence, and by several recorded phone calls placed by the defendant at the Preble County jail after his arrest. In the phone calls, the defendant told family and friends that the victim had inflicted the injuries upon himself.

Sentencing in the case has been set for March 13, 2018 at 1:00 P.M. in the Preble County Court of Common Pleas. The defendant was convicted of “Aggravated Murder”, an unclassified felony carrying four possible statutory sentences: 20 years-to-life, 25 years-to-life, 30 years-to-life, and life without the possibility of parole. The defendant’s conviction for “Murder” will “merge” with the Aggravated Murder conviction, meaning he will not be separately sentenced upon the murder count. The count of “Tampering With Evidence” is a felony of the third degree carrying a maximum possible sentence of three years.

    Quote from Prosecuting Attorney Martin P. Votel:

This was a barbaric crime employing multiple weapons and traumatic force. While the motive for the killing remains unknown, it is beyond dispute that this defendant wanted his son dead and that he acted swiftly and with specific intent to end his life. Without the tenacity of Dets. Miller and Blevins of the Preble County Sheriff’s Office this case would remain unindicted. The detectives exhausted every possible lead in the case over a six-month period, before resolving to press the defendant about the parts of his “story” which did not match the physical evidence and which did not make sense. Their sound interviewing technique and persistence are why Gabriel Schaaf will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.