Mel Ignatow bigraphy, stories - American criminal

Mel Ignatow : biography

26 March 1938 - 01 September 2008

Mel Ignatow (March 26, 1938 – September 1, 2008)Record of Melvin H. Ignatow. Social Security Death Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. was a resident of Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., who was accused of murdering his former girlfriend, Brenda Sue Schaefer, in 1988. The case was controversial because Ignatow was acquitted of the charge, but photographs proving his guilt were uncovered after the trial. Under the legal principle of double jeopardy, however, Ignatow could not be tried a second time for the murder. He was, instead, convicted and jailed for perjury in his grand jury testimony for the case on several occasions.


On September 23, 1988, Schaefer met Ignatow to return some jewelry of his that she had in her possession. Instead, Ignatow took Schaefer to Shore's house, where he pulled a gun on Schaefer and locked her in the house. Schaefer was blindfolded, gagged and bound hand and foot.

Ignatow forced Schaefer to strip, photographed her in suggestive positions, raped, sodomized and beat her before killing her with chloroform. Ignatow and Shore buried her behind Shore's house. He took Schaefer's jewelry and the exposed film.


On September 1, 2008, Ignatow was found dead in his home. At the time of his death, Ignatow was 70 years old. An official cause of death has yet to be determined; however, based on initial remarks made by his upstairs neighbor who found Ignatow's body, and follow-up remarks given to the media by Ignatow's son, it is believed that Ignatow's death was due to an accidental fall that caused a laceration to either his head or his arm and that he had eventually bled to death. "Apparently, he fell and hit a glass coffee table and, from what I can tell, he cut his arm" Ignatow's son stated. The upstairs neighbor on the other hand stated that it appeared Ignatow had cut his head and not his arm; "It just looked like he had fell and hit his head on the table," And he tried to go to the kitchen, and there was a blood trail that way, and then it looked like he tried to make it to his room, before he made it to his room, that's where they found his body at."

Ignatow's upstairs neighbor also described him as a "a sick and elderly man, alone and struggling for help when he apparently stumbled to his death. I used to hear him all night, asking for Jesus to come get him, because he was in a lot of pain." Ignatow's son admits that his father's sins may never be forgiven. "He will probably go down as one of the most hated men in Louisville". He went on to say that now he hopes his father's death will help people forget some of his transgressions. "Maybe it'll just put it to rest, that we all don't have to keep dealing with this over and over. That's what I hope."

Investigation and trial

After Schaefer's disappearance, police quickly suspected Ignatow, but were unable to locate any witnesses or physical evidence linking him to Schaefer's disappearance, or even to locate Schaefer's body. In search for any lead that could let them move forward with the case, police invited Ignatow to clear his name by testifying before a grand jury. There, he mentioned Shore's name, bringing her into the investigation for the first time. The police interviewed Shore, who eventually confessed to helping plan the murder, and to taking pictures of Ignatow as he tortured and abused Schaefer. Shore also led the investigators to the grave site, where Schaefer's badly decomposed body had been buried for over a year. The autopsy showed she had been abused, but any DNA evidence, from blood and semen, had decomposed.

The investigators convinced Shore to wear a wire, by promising only to charge her with tampering with evidence. In the surveillance, Shore told Ignatow that the FBI was hounding her and she was afraid the property behind her house was being sold and developed. He was on tape berating her for letting the FBI "rattle" her and told her he didn't care if they dug up the whole property because "that place we dug is not shallow."

Living octopus

Living octopus

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