Death penalty sought in kidnapping, murder of tool salesman — (The News Tribune)

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The News Tribune

KAREN HUCKS, The News Tribune

15 November 2005

Confession says driver ‘wasn’t supposed to die’; In a newly released confession, murder defendant William Schorr tells how Snap-On Tools truck driver Bob Shapel died. The trial begins in January.

SOUTH SOUND – William Craig Schorr didn’t think he and his friend, Jeremy Hosford, were going to kill Bob Shapel.

In a confession released Monday, Schorr told Pierce County sheriff’s detectives he was planning only to rob the Snap-On Tools truck driver Feb. 24, 2004.

“He wasn’t supposed to die,” Schorr told detectives Bruce Larson and Todd Karr two days after the fatal robbery. “He was supposed to just have the tape put over his eyes and over his mouth, and we were gonna leave him right there.”

Schorr told detectives how he needed money, how he followed Hosford into the Snap-On truck that day and how Hosford used too much duct tape to keep Shapel quiet and ended up suffocating him.

Schorr, 30, and Hosford, 26, are charged with aggravated first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery, second-degree arson, first-degree theft and first-degree extortion. Prosecutors are seeking their deaths.

Charging documents say they tricked the 55-year-old father of two into stopping on his regular sales route and then suffocated him, set his truck on fire and left his body in an overturned portable toilet. They also stole cash and tools, documents say.

Their trials have been split, in part because Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff said it would be impossible for prosecutors to use Schorr’s confession without being unfair to Hosford. Schorr will go to trial in January, Hosford in August.

Hosford’s attorney, John O’Melveny, declined to comment on Schorr’s statement Monday. Mary Kay High, who is representing Schorr with attorney Sverre Staurset, said the confession shows Schorr is the minor player in the crime.

On Feb. 26, 2004, sheriff’s deputies arrested Schorr and Hosford, and each gave two statements. Chushcoff has refused to release Hosford’s confession, because prosecutors don’t plan to use it in Hosford’s trial.

The judge released transcripts of Schorr’s statements because they will be used in his trial.

The first time he talked to detectives, at 5:10 p.m., Schorr – called “Billy” – denied having ever seen Shapel or robbing a Snap-On Tools truck driver. In a second statement nearly three hours later, he spent 45 minutes telling them how Shapel died.

“It’s kinda hard to explain,” he said. “Everything happened really fast that day.”

Schorr told investigators he and Hosford were trying to start a business repairing motorized grocery carts and were in the Yelm area looking for customers when they saw the Snap-On tools truck.

“There was, had a bright idea that we could rob the Snap-On truck of some tools and maybe a little bit of cash, help get everything goin’, ” Schorr said.

They lost sight of the truck, though, and Schorr called Snap-On’s headquarters in California to find out where they could find a Snap-On truck.

About 4 p.m., Hosford flagged down Shapel’s truck near Harts Lake in southeast Pierce County, using a Snap-On wrench he’d broken for the ruse. Hosford got into the truck first.

“I waited a couple minutes and then I went in the Snap-On truck. . . .” Schorr said. “Actually stood outside the truck for a few minutes. Not, not knowing for sure if I wanted actually, you know, go through with this.”

Schorr said Hosford pulled out a gun and made Shapel – who cooperated the entire time – lie on the floor. Schorr said he, too, pulled out a gun that Hosford gave him before the robbery.

They found duct tape in Shapel’s truck.

“We figured if, if he seen us, you know, with a traumatic experience, probably get a good description, so we were just gonna tape his eyes and cover his mouth so he didn’t make a noise or couldn’t see anything,” Schorr said. “And that was supposed to be the idea for the duct tape.

“And Jeremy kinda went overboard with the duct tape. . . . He just kept wrapping it around his head. . . . I just couldn’t believe that he was doin’ it, but I didn’t say anything.”

He said when Hosford first put the tape over Shapel’s face, he could still see the man moving and breathing.

“He kept movin’, started movin’ a lot,” Schorr said. “And Jeremy started yellin’ at him to, to stop movin’ and he stomped him on the, on the back of his head. . . . I don’t know, two or three (times).”

Schorr said that when he noticed Shapel’s chest wasn’t rising anymore, he turned him over and saw Hosford had taped over Shapel’s mouth and nose. After they realized Shapel had died, Schorr said, Hosford put a plastic bag over his head to contain the bleeding.

“Jeremy was saying that . . . if there was blood all over the floor, it’d be slippery, be like walking in oil,” Schorr told detectives. “That’s why we wanted a plastic bag on his head.”

Schorr said Hosford put Shapel’s body in a nearby portable toilet and pushed the toilet over.

Schorr said they left the truck, and he went to his apartment in SeaTac that night “like nothin’ was happenin’ ” – and took his wife dinner. His sons, 2 and 4, were there. Schorr and Hosford were going to forget about the robbery, but then realized they still could steal the tools if the truck was still there.

Later that night, they went back to the truck, took all the tools they could and set fire to the truck. They put the tools in a Federal Way storage unit.

The two also took $30, a Shell gasoline card and a National Hot Rod Association Visa card out of Shapel’s wallet. At some point, Hosford called Shapel’s wife, told her he wasn’t cooperating and asked for the PIN number for his bank card, Schorr said.

Schorr said Hosford had talked about robbing a Snap-On truck in the past, but the idea came up that day only after they saw a Snap-On truck.

He told the detectives he needed money to pay his rent and feed his wife and two sons. He’d had a heart attack the previous December and had been laid off from his job at Frontier Construction in Covington.

He and Hosford hadn’t taken any illegal drugs, Schorr said. Schorr had taken his usual Prozac dose and a blood thinner. Hosford was drinking Dr Pepper, he said.

Schorr said the night after Shapel’s death he couldn’t sleep because he kept seeing the scene every time he closed his eyes.

He said Hosford didn’t talk about how he felt afterwards.

“He didn’t say nothin’,” Schorr said.

Karen Hucks: 253-597-8660

karen.hucks@thenewstribune.com