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Crime News Dateline

A Valentine's Day Rendezvous Turns Deadly For Georgia Dad — Who Wanted Him Dead?

Richard Schoeck was gunned down at a desolate park in Georgia where he had planned to meet his wife for a romantic rendezvous on Valentine's Day 2010, but solving his mysterious death would be no simple task. 

By Jill Sederstrom

It was supposed to be a romantic rendezvous with his wife.

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But when Richard Schoeck drove to the remote Belton Bridge Park in Lula, Georgia on Valentine’s Day 2010 to exchange presents with his wife he met a bloody end instead, according to "Dateline: Secrets Uncovered," airing Wednesdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.

Richard was shot to death five times, including two gunshots wounds straight to the face.

His wife, Stacey Shoeck, arrived at the park to find her husband dead, sprawled out on the ground next to his truck.

“He’s been shot,” Stacey screamed to the 911 dispatcher.

One of the few clues about who may have shot Richard — a fun and quirky guy who had legally adopted Stacey’s three young sons — lay in the dirt leading up to the brutal murder scene.

Investigators were able to identify one set of tire tracks that didn’t belong to the couple’s vehicles, which they determined had arrived before Richard’s car and then left sometime after Richard had gotten to the park, leading investigators to believe his killer had been lying in wait.

It was a clue that would unravel a deadly set of secrets.

By all accounts, those who knew Stacey and Richard described a happy, blended family. Richard had loved Stacey’s three boys so much he formally adopted them, and the couple were regular fixtures at the boys’ Cub Scout events, with Stacey serving as the den leader.

While Stacey, who worked as an administrator to a sizeable medical practice, was known for her meticulous nature, Richard — a hot air balloon enthusiast who loved riding motorcycles — was known for his fun-loving nature.

“My brother was always a big kid,” his sister Carol Fillingim said. “He had to be out and about. He was a very good athlete.”

His niece Nicole Fillingim remembered him as the “cool uncle.”

“He would roller skate with us or throw a ball with us, color with us,” she said of Richard, who had worked as a maintenance manager but also took on primary duties raising the kids.  

On the night of the murder, Stacey had been taking her turn caring for her elderly grandmother and had arranged to meet Richard at the desolate park, a spot they had discovered while motorcycling, for a romantic Valentine’s tryst.

“This was one of the very few cases where the more I dug, the less sense that it made,” said Hall County Sheriff's Office detective Lt. Dan Franklin, who had been one of the first to arrive at the scene.

The shots that tore into Richard’s body had been “overkill” and left a “particularly gruesome” crime scene, Franklin said. There were no signs that it had been a robbery.

“When Stacey found Richard, his truck was running, the driver’s door was open, the headlights were on, so it appeared that he had simply just pulled up and got out of his truck to approach the person who shot him, which was a compelling thing for us,” he said.

Investigators had the tire tracks — which were determined to have been left by Goodyear Integrity tires — but without a car to match it to, it was little help.

Stacey also admitted during questioning the night that Richard was killed that she had been carrying on an affair for “about six, seven months” with a coworker named Juan Reyes.

The relationship seemed to be serious. Reyes was living with his family in a house Stacey and Richard owned, Stacey had rented an apartment for a romantic rendezvous between the lovers, and she paid for his cell phone and the truck he drove.

Stacey even told investigators that she had said to Reyes earlier in the week that she planned to meet Richard at the park that night.

After identifying a potential suspect in the slaying, investigators immediately went to Reyes’ house at 4 a.m. and knocked, but no one ever answered.

“We knocked for a while. We knocked on windows, we walked around the house and never could get anybody to the door,” Franklin said.

The next morning, they found him at this workplace, but his appearance had changed and he’d shaved his full beard into just a goatee.

When they brought him to the station, Reyes freely admitted to the affair with Stacey but insisted he had nothing to do with the murder and said he had been home all night with his family and had just never heard police at the door.

“I don’t know what to tell you, man, I was in my bed,” he told investigators.

Reyes’ ex-wife, who had been living at the home in an attempt to reconcile with her husband, confirmed his story, even after learning that he had been unfaithful.

Authorities were ultimately able to dismiss him as a suspect.

The case seemed to have hit a dead end until Franklin got a call from a guy in the IT department at the DeKalb Medical Center, where Stacey worked. He had been clearing the junk files from an employee’s email accounts when he noticed that Stacey’s email account had been completely cleaned out for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the weekend of the murder.

What Stacey didn’t know was that all the emails had already been backed up and investigators were able to get a warrant for all her emails. They discovered two emails from Stacey to her bank asking that they transfer money from a real estate account to a fellow employee named Lynitra Ross, supposedly to pay for home repairs.

Investigators went to talk to Ross, who was also renting a house from Stacey. Ross confirmed that the money, which amounted to about $10,000, had been for repairs to the house.

A police handout of Stacey Shoeck

Franklin believed he had hit another dead end, until he got a call from Stacey’s cousin who reported that at the time of the murder, her grandparent’s car had been missing.

By the time investigators found it, Stacey had sold it but they noticed that the vehicle had Goodyear Integrity tires on it. Franklin felt confident it was the vehicle used in the murder.

Now he just had to find the car’s driver and requested a “tower dump” from a local cell phone tower to get information on all the calls that had happened in the area that night.

“It was a shot in the dark, but I took it,” he said.

When he compared the phone calls that night to Stacey’s contact list on her phone, he discovered a call around the time Richard would have set out for the park from a “Reggie” to Ross, the same coworker who had received all that money from Stacey around the time of the murder.

Investigators identified Reggie as Reggie Coleman, a personal trainer who offered workouts at Stacey’s office building and had allegedly carried out hits on the side. They were also able to identify a series of calls that night that went from Coleman to Ross and then from Ross to Stacey.

Franklin believed the calls set up and confirmed the murder that night.

All three were arrested for murder, but the true motivation for the killing remains uncertain.

Seven months after Richard's death, Stacey confessed to investigators that she had arranged for her husband to be killed because she falsely believed he had been molesting her sons.

“I didn’t want police, I didn’t want a divorce, I just wanted him dead,” she said.

But after her arrest, she said she explained her reasoning to her sons and learned Richard had never been abusing them.

She’d tell a different story to Richard’s sister, who visited her behind bars. This time Stacey allegedly said she’d had Richard killed because she was worried that if she divorced him, he might get custody of her sons because of the legal adoption.

Whatever the reason, Stacey will be spending the rest of her life behind bars after pleading guilty to murder. Coleman and Ross also received life sentences.  

For more on this case and others like it, watch "Dateline: Secrets Uncovered," airing Wednesdays at 8/7c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.