Father, son sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Joy Schultz

Page News and Courier

LURAY, Feb. 8 ― The father and son found guilty in October of the brutal slaying of a Shenandoah woman will spend the rest of their lives in prison. George Schultz, 55, and his son, George Schuppan, 25, were sentenced on Monday in Page County Circuit Court for the murder of 51-year-old Joy Schultz ― Schultz's wife and Schuppan's stepmother.

Donning bulletproof vests, the pair appeared solemn before Judge Clark Ritchie, who said that he would uphold the jury's sentencing recommendations for each of the convictions.

Following an eight-day trial and a couple hours of deliberation on Oct. 23 — two days before what would have been Joy's 53rd birthday — a jury recommended that Schultz and Schuppan receive life in prison for first-degree murder. The jury also recommended Joy's killers each pay a fine of $100,000 for first-degree murder and serve 10 years in prison for conspiracy, five years for transporting a dead body and three years for using a firearm to commit a murder.

The trial included the father and son taking the stand to each accuse the other of shooting Joy Schultz, who was last seen alive on Sept. 6, 2014, and who was found buried in Rockingham County off Beldor Road on Oct. 22, 2014.

Prosecutors said the father and son planned to kill Joy Schultz and cash in on her $200,000 life insurance policy, though Joy had removed her husband as the primary beneficiary and replaced him with her brother the day before she disappeared.

According to reports and testimony, Schultz and Schuppan mutilated her body in their basement, tearing off her forearms, discarding her internal organs and removing large sections of her skin, as well as her jaw. That “butchery,” said Page County Commonwealth's Attorney Ken Alger during the trial, was done in an effort to make the murder appear as a gang hit. George Schultz had previously worked as an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, providing information about the Bandidos biker gang. Prosecutors said Schultz wanted his wife's murder to appear as though it was in retaliation for his services.

In court on Monday, Alger asked Ritchie to “do what the jury asked us to do.”

The father and son, said Alger, “have no remorse for what they've done … even after they were convicted.”

The Commonwealth's Attorney said that since Schultz's incarceration in October 2014, he has “begun an entire new relationship” and “planned a whole new life,” demonstrated through confiscated letters Schultz exchanged with a female inmate, knowing it was a jail violation.

During Schuppan's incarceration, Alger continued, the son has faced multiple institutional charges, including defacing property with white supremacist writings, possession of a weapon, assault and racially motivated fighting.

Schuppan's attorney, Richard Morgan, argued that his client had been “bullied a lot” before graduating high school in 2008, and that the assault and fighting infractions were “consistent with his inclination to defend himself when bullied.”

Just before sentencing Schuppan, standing with hunched shoulders and in tears, maintained his innocence. Schultz was also given the opportunity to speak, but declined.

“My father murdered his wife while I was at work,” Schuppan told Ritchie, adding that his father forced him at gunpoint and upon threat of his family to help dispose of Joy Schultz's body.

“I know I'm military trained, and I know I'm a man,” said Schuppan, a former U.S. Army private first class who spent more than four years in the military, including one year in Iraq. “I was afraid; I lived in fear …

“What has happened is great evil,” he continued. “Every night I close my eyes, I still see her eyes.”

The defense attorneys for Schultz and Schuppan asked the judge to sentence their respective clients with the recommended sentencing guidelines — prison terms ranging from 23 to 39 years for Schuppan and 45 to 75 years for Schultz.

“The world lost a person ― a human being,” Ritchie told those in the courtroom. “A person who was obviously cherished by her family, she was appreciated by her coworkers and she was adored by her friends.”
Ritchie continued, noting that he had taken into consideration the “sheer violence” of Joy's murder, which occurred at her home near Shenandoah — “at a place arguably where she should have felt safest,” committed by the husband and stepson she “should have felt safest around.”

Ritchie said he was also taking into consideration the “savagery and brutality of the shameful, shameful treatment and mutilation of her body,” which was buried for weeks while her family was “overwhelmed by worry, by fear and by the unknown.”

The judge said he could not reduce the sentences.

“Joy was ripped from this world,” he said.

In addition to upholding the jury's recommendations, Ritchie ordered Joy's killers to collectively pay $5,010 in restitution. Each conviction additionally includes a post release term of supervision of three years.

Following the sentencing, Ritchie approved a request from Schultz for new council and a motion to withdraw from Schultz's attorney Webb Hudson.

Both Schultz and his son plan to appeal their convictions.

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