A Libby man accused of shooting and killing another man in his living room and then not reporting the crime for 18 hours has pleaded not guilty to charges of deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence.
Henry Carl Schroeder, 74, appeared in Lincoln County District Court on March 2, a month after he was arrested for allegedly murdering Thomas Lawrence Veloz, 38, on Jan. 31. Schroeder was initially charged with negligent homicide, but prosecutors increased the charge to deliberate homicide in February.
Kimberlee Ann Patterson, 43, was also arrested and charged with felony evidence tampering after police discovered Veloz’s body inside Schroeder’s home on Feb. 1.
In an interview with investigators, Schroeder said that he was the one who had shot Veloz on Jan. 31 after the man stormed his house.
According to court documents, Patterson and Veloz were dating but the couple had a falling out in late January. On the evening of Jan. 31, Patterson was at Schroeder’s house and said that her relationship with Veloz was over and she asked if it was OK if she stayed there because her ex-boyfriend was on a “warpath.”
At about 8 p.m., Veloz allegedly barged into Schroeder’s house and told him, “I’m going to kill you for messing around with my girlfriend.” Veloz then grabbed Patterson by the arm and told her to get in the car. Patterson pulled away and Schroeder ran into his bedroom to get a .380 caliber pistol. Schroeder then shot Veloz from about six feet away, according to court records. After Veloz went down, Schroeder walked over to him and shot him a few more times, emptying the clip after firing a total of five bullets.
After the shooting, Schroeder picked up some of the shells and covered Veloz’s body with a blue blanket, according to court records. Later, a friend who had spent time with Schroeder, Patterson and Veloz earlier in the evening, stopped over to check on them. The man did not go inside and said that Patterson and Schroeder only opened the door a little bit but noted that Schroeder’s face was “pale white.”
The following morning, the friend returned to the house and was let inside where he saw Veloz’s body under the blue blanket. The man told Schroeder and Patterson that they needed to call the police and left. At approximately 3:30 p.m., Feb. 1, after driving by Schroeder’s house twice and not seeing any police activity, the man decided to go the authorities himself.
Not long after, officers from the Libby Police Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office went to Schroeder’s home at 1305 Washington Ave. Police called Schroeder and demanded that he come outside. When Schroeder exited the house, officers asked him if there was anyone inside and he said. “there is but I shot him.” Police then entered the home and found Veloz’s body covered under a blue blanket with a large pool of blood near his head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Schroeder was taken to the Lincoln County Detention Facility where he admitted to police that he had shot Veloz. He also said that Patterson was inside the home at the time of the shooting. She was arrested later that afternoon after her car slid into a ditch just south of Libby.
Patterson is due to be arraigned in Lincoln County District Court on March 9 for tampering with evidence, a felony.
Schroeder is being held on $500,000 bail. If convicted of deliberate homicide, Schroeder could face up to 100 years in prison. He is expected to go to trial in May.
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