Murders happen everywhere across America, from big cities to small towns. The real life story of Mel Ignatow, a Louisville man who was acquitted for murder, is full of karma and ironies. Though he was acquitted of the murder charges, his past soon caught up with him. He sat on trial for the murder of Brenda Sue Schaefer, his girlfriend. With the help of a former girlfriend, Mary Ann Shore, he tortured, raped and killed Ms. Schaefer while Shore watched and took photos. Yes, Ignatow's accomplice actually took photos of the heinous, brutal crime.
So how was Ignatow let go? Unfortunately the trial took place before the detectives could gather enough evidence against Ignatow, and combined with the help of unreliable witnesses taking the stand and a lack of evidence, Ignatow was set free. But it wasn't too long until his history caught up with him and placed him in prison for almost the rest of his life, which ended in the most ironic way possible.
Mel Ignatow was an evil man and not many people had a doubt in their mind that he could be capable of a heinous act of brutality and murder. When Scott Cox, a former assistant attorney spoke of him he said, “he was a narcissist and obviously he was a sociopath, no conscience at all.” Why would he label Ignatow a sociopath? Because Ignatow not only murdered his fiance, but brutally tortured her beforehand. Before he killed her with chloroform, he tied her to a glass table and raped, choked and sodomized her for hours.
Ignatow did not work alone, he called upon a former girlfriend to help in his meticulously devised plan. Mary Ann Shore not only helped him to murder Schaefer, but helped with the planning, execution and aftermath. When Ignatow sat on trial he even used Shore as his alibi. But it turns out Shore was also a weak link, and during her testimony she buckled under pressure and ran away from the witness stand.
Shore ended up confessing to her involvement and informed the detectives of everything that occurred, leading the detectives to put a wire on her the next time she spoke to Ignatow. She also informed authorities of the location Schaefer's body, leading them to arrest Ignatow.
Shore was not only an accomplice to the torture, murder, and aftermath, but she also documented the entire thing with photos. Former ADA Cox stated that "the photos would represent a trophy to him, something he could view in the future." But the police did not have the photos for the trial and Ignatow was acquitted on the charges of murder.
Ignatow was later charged with perjury in a final attempt to put him behind bars. With only a week before the perjury case began, the authorities finally found the undeveloped film. An FBI agent, Ed Armento, who worked on the case said "we processed the film. As soon as the photographs started coming out, I knew we had Mel Ignatow."
The murder of Schaefer was not a crime of passion, nor was it a spur of the moment occurrence or anything of the sort - it was, however, a deranged thought-out plan. In fact everything was planned out with great detail; the murder was to take place at Shore's residence, where they pre-dug a grave a month prior, which became the final resting place for Schaefer. Shore and Ignatow even went so far as to "scream test" Shore's home to make sure no one would hear them come the night of the crime.