COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A little more than a year after the murder of 45-year-old Melyssa Schloe, her family says they finally have closure.
A jury convicted Schloe’s killer, Bonners Ferry resident Victor A. Claus, of first-degree murder this week, as reported by our news partner, the Coeur d'Alene Press.
The guilty verdict came after about three hours of deliberation.
“Although nothing will bring Melyssa back to us, we know we will see her again in heaven and can now rest a little easier knowing that justice has been served,” Schloe’s family said Thursday in a statement to The Press.
They praised the work of law enforcement and other first responders, as well as the coroner and medical examiner who helped investigate.
“We can’t say enough about the Kootenai County prosecutors,” the family’s statement said. “They worked diligently to find and present the truth.”
Claus shot Schloe in the head last April while she was driving northbound on U.S. 95, killing her and causing a multi-car crash that injured two people, including Claus.
The pair were reportedly dating at the time of the murder.
Before the crash, another motorist called 911 to report a possible “rolling” domestic dispute between Claus and Schloe, according to police reports.
Claus later told police he and Schloe were arguing when she grabbed his handgun and shot herself.
Her mother testified that Schloe’s state of mind was positive in the days before her death.
Though Schloe lived in Garden Grove, Calif., she regularly traveled to Idaho to stay with family in Sandpoint and was reportedly preparing to move there in 2021.
Dr. Jennifer Nara of the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office was one of many witnesses who testified during the eight-day trial. She said Schloe died from a gunshot wound to the right side of her head.
Nara said she found no evidence on Schloe’s body of soot or stippling, a pattern of gunshot residue burned into the skin that results from close proximity to a discharged firearm.
Soot and stippling would be expected in the case of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Detective Jeremy Northrup with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office testified that no gunpowder residue or blood spatter were found on Schloe’s hands, which was inconsistent with a close-range gunshot wound.
An autopsy reportedly indicated that the barrel of the gun was more than 18 inches away from Schloe’s head when it fired.
Judge Scott Wayman ordered that Claus be held without bond until he’s sentenced on July 22.
First-degree murder is punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.
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