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Police Act Quickly to Arrest Woman Who Wanted Husband Slain

October 21, 1987

LOVES PARK, Ill. (AP) _ An impatient woman involved in a love triangle forced police to build a case against her in just 45 minutes when she hired a man to kill her husband within the hour.

The husband, Emil Schnurr, lost both legs in the Vietnam War.

″The guy has a hard enough time living day-to-day, and now this,″ Rockford police Detective Richard Galvanoni said Wednesday.

″Needless to say, he was plenty upset.″

Ethel Jean Schnurr was arrested Tuesday morning after she told a man during a meeting recorded by police that she would pay $1,000 if he would kill her husband of 18 months with a knife, Galvanoni said.

Mrs. Schnurr, 28, of suburban Loves Park north of Rockford, was charged later Tuesday with solicitation to commit murder. She was being held in the Winnebago County Jail on $250,000 bond pending a court hearing Nov. 2.

Galvanoni declined to identify the man Mrs. Schnurr is accused of trying to hire, but said, ″We believe she met him through her boyfriend.″

He said the man told police at about midnight Monday that Mrs. Schnurr had demanded that he kill her husband within the hour.

Authorities had about 45 minutes before that deadline to get permission from the Winnebago County state’s attorney’s office to record conversations between Mrs. Schnurr and the man, and equip the informant with a tape recorder, Galvanoni said.

″The problem was time. We might have tried to get the whole thing on videotape, but we just didn’t have time for anything elaborate,″ he said.

Authorities also warned Schnurr.

″He suspected something like that anyway,″ said Galvanoni. ″I guess they’d been having difficulties and she’d been acting kind of nervous lately.″

Schnurr, 36, told police he’d been concealing an Army survival knife in his wheelchair-like cart for several weeks.

Police tried to replace the informant with an undercover officer, but Mrs. Schnurr told the man she would not meet with anyone else, Galvanoni said.

In addition to offering $1,000 for the killing, Mrs. Schnurr gave the informant a key to her house, a pair of gloves and a butcher knife during the recorded meeting in a van, he said.

She told the man to make the killing look as though it had occurred during a robbery, then drove him to the couple’s home.

While Mrs. Schnurr waited in the van, the man entered the house and met Schnurr moments after detectives had told him of the plot.

″The informant stayed a few minutes and then went back to the van and said, ’I did it. I killed him,‴ Galvanoni said, quoting from the tape recording.

″She said, ‘Did he scream?’

″He said, ‘Yeah, he screamed a couple of times.’

″She seemed pleased,″ Galvanoni said.

Mrs. Schnurr was arrested in the van near the house without incident. Confronted with the tape recording, she denied that it was her voice, Galvanoni said.

″I think there was a financial motive to the marriage to begin with,″ Galvanoni said.

″I think his disability payments were substantial. They had a nice home. Maybe she figured if she got rid of him, it would all be hers.″

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