Updated: Jun 25, 2021
Amy Rachel Schulz
February 19, 1977 - July 1, 1987
Kell, Marion County, Illinois
On July 1, 1987, ten year old Amy Schulz left home to look for her brother who went after the family’s runaway dog. She was never seen alive again.
Amy’s body was found the next day by an oil field worker. Her nude body was located about a hundred feet from an oil lease access road in Dix, Jefferson County, Illinois. Her body was found lying face down and covered in dirt. There were shoe prints on her back. There were several hairs found stuck in her rectal area. A large open wound on the right side of her neck exposed her spinal cord area. There was a pool of blood around her neck indicating the location she was found was the same place in which she was brutally murdered.
Amy’s shirt, shorts, underpants, shoes and socks were found thrown along the oil lease road. Approximately seventeen feet from her body, tire tracks were found. Near the tire tracks a shoe print similar to the shoe print that was made on her back was also found.
I found a small article by UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL that reported the town’s fear after Amy was found. It was said that dozens of citizens in Kell, Illinois came together for a neighborhood watch. None of the kids would be outside unless a parent was outside with them.
The pathologist conducting the autopsy on July 3, 1987, Dr. Steven Neurenberger, reported horrific findings. A 14.5 cm wound ran from the middle of her throat to behind the right ear lobe which cut through the neck muscles, severed the carotid artery and jugular vein and cut into the cartilage between the neck and vertebrae. Her right eye was hemorrhaged. A small abrasion near her left eyebrow. Her ear was torn off the skin at the base of the ear. Both lips were lacerated from being compressed against the underlying teeth. There were also linear abrasions to the outer lips of the vagina indicating that force had been applied to the back, pressing the vagina against the ground.
Internal injuries included three hemorrhages inside the skull, a fractured rib and a torn liver. There was evidence of tearing in the rectal mucosa. He noted that her vocal cords were hemorrhaged and her esophagus was bruised.
Neurenberger believed that the killer strangled her to unconsciousness or death, anally penetrated her, slit her throat and stepped on her body to force exsanguination (forcing her blood to drain). Based on her stomach contents, he placed the time of death between 9:30 P.M. and 11:00 P.M. on July 1, 1987.
The pathologist also reported three subdural hematomas, a fractured rib, a torn liver and tearing of the rectal mucosa. Her vocal cords were bleeding and her esophagus was bruised. She was sodomized, beaten, strangled and her throat was slashed. Someone stepped on her back as she lay on her stomach to force the blood from her body. Someone left her to die. Time of death was between 9:30 P.M. and 11:00 P.M. based on the stomach contents.
Two pubic hairs were found on Amy’s body. Dog hairs, fibers on clothes and tire tracks were submitted in to evidence. No fingerprints were found. No confession was made. No witnesses were found. No DNA was available.
The plaster casts of made of the tire impressions at the scene resulted with only two models of tires, the Cooper “Falls Persuader” and the Cooper “Dean Polaris” tires.
Months after Amy’s body was found, the police at the Glacier National Park in Montana contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff in regard to a Cecil Sutherland which they had located his abandoned vehicle, a 1977 Plymouth Fury. At the time of the murder Sutherland was living in Dix, Illinois where Amy’s body was found. This vehicle had the same tire on the right front wheel. Detectives went to Montana to make the ink impressions for testing against the ones in evidence found at the crime scene, later confirming a match, but could not positively exclude all the other tires, though the probability was “pretty great”.
The two pubic hairs found at the crime scene confirmed they did not originate from her family or the 24 suspects but “could have originated” from Sutherland.
There was about 34 dog hairs found on Amy’s clothes and were consistent with Sutherland’s dog, and not that of Amy’s three family dogs, her grandparents’ dog or the three neighbors’ dogs. A witness came forward in Sutherland’s family who testified that he always had his dog in the vehicle with him and that it was impossible to get in to his car without being covered in dog hair.
Also found at the scene were 29 gold fibers in Amy’s socks, shoes, underwear, shorts and shirt. 28 of those “could have originated” from Sutherland’s vehicle carpet. The other fiber “could have originated” from the upholstery in his vehicle.
They compared 12 cotton and 4 polyester fibers located on the front passenger side floor to the cotton and polyester fibers found on Amy’s shirt. They were the same size, shape and color therefore also could have originated from her shirt. Amy’s shorts had the fibers consistent in diameter, color, shape and optical properties and said they could have originated from her shorts.
While there were many consistencies with the evidence, it wasn’t solid. The technology back then is simply not what it is today.
The same witness in his family testified that Sutherland was visiting his brother that night in Texico, Illinois. His mother lived five minutes from there in Dix, Illinois. On the night of Amy’s murder, Sutherland left his brother’s home between 8:00 P.M. and 8:30 P.M.
Sutherland’s mother also testified and said that he called her at 10:57 P.M. from the gas station in Mount Vernon, Illinois. He called her to say that his car had broken down and he needed a ride to get a car part to fix it.
The gas station attendant testified that Sutherland was at the gas station about 20 to 30 minutes prior to making the phone call. The gas station was a 6 to 7 minute drive from the mothers house.
The Sheriff testified that the distance from Kell to the crime scene was 12.1 miles and took 14 minutes to drive. He said the distance from where Amy’s body was found to the gas station in Mount Vernon was 20.4 miles, about a 22 minute drive.
Cecil Sutherland was a 32 year old former maintenance worker who lived in Dix, Illinois not far from where he allegedly abducted and brutally murdered Amy. Sutherland was found guilty in 1989 and sentenced to fifteen years in a federal prison. He admitted to strangling her until she passed out.
During the first trial, a 16 year old family member of Sutherland’s testified against him to being sodomized by him ten years prior.
In 2000, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled for a new trial, stating that his trial lawyer failed to present available evidence. Lucky for him, 1987 DNA was not in full swing. The second trial however, it was. He was charged again with the First Degree Murder, Kidnapping and Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault of Amy Schulz.
The hairs found at the scene were Sutherland and one linked to his dog.
The tire mark was consistent to the tires on the Sutherland’s vehicle at the time. The fibers that were found were linked to his vehicle. The fibers were found in Amy’s shorts and shirt. There was a boot print.
Once the evidence was presented in the courtroom against Sutherland, he asked for the death sentence.
Amy’s dad Dennis Schulz took his pain and made Amy’s name one of the many changes for children. The Amy Schulz Child Advocacy Center is now a center in Mount Vernon, Illinois to assist other children and families.
Their mission is for providing a safe place for children who are victims of sexual or severe physical abuse. The board, staff and multi-disciplinary team members work together to provide intervention, prevention, education and advocacy services for the best interest of abused children.
THE DEATH PENALTY
Of course, Illinois abolished the death penalty July 1, 2011, therefore jackhats like Cicil Sutherland’s death sentence was commuted to a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Amy’s father went to great lengths to fight against abolishing the death penalty.
The Southern Illinoisan reported.
"It's just unspeakable," Schulz said. "It's like him saying that what happened to my daughter and my family, he don't care."
"I think they're weak; I think they're cowards," Schulz said. "They're there more for the killers and murderers than they are the victims and families."
"I've got to make sure that politicians are going to do the will of the people, not their own will, because that's what happened," Schulz said.
Mr. Dennis Schulz, I fully agree and support.