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Elderly couple found dead in Palm Harbor home

By NORA KOCH
Published October 18, 2004

PALM HARBOR - An elderly couple was found dead Sunday afternoon inside a home off Lake Tarpon.

After a family member asked for a welfare check at the address in Lake Shore Estates, authorities from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and Palm Harbor Fire Rescue found the house locked.

They forced an entry into the single family home and found a man and a woman dead about 3 p.m., said Mac McMullen, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office homicide unit was investigating.

Authorities were unable to positively identify the deceased Sunday night because of the condition of the bodies, which had been there for several days, McMullen said.

The home at 207 W Canal Drive has belonged to Donald H. and Jean E. Schoolman since 1995, records say.

For years, Mrs. Schoolman had been ill, neighbors said, and in recent months she rarely left the home. Her husband was her dedicated caregiver and told a neighbor that she was all he had.

Neighbors said Jean Schoolman, 67, had been ailing for a few years, but would not see a doctor.

"She wanted to rest peacefully in her home," said next-door neighbor Don Lefever, who has lived there for eight months.

Lefever, who works at home and helped the Schoolmans with yard work and hurricane preparation, said she had not left the home for three months. Before then he had seen her come out only rarely, and she needed her husband's help to get into the car.

About 10 days ago Lefever ran into Don Schoolman, 69, who said his wife "wasn't doing well."

"All he would ever talk about was his wife, how he wanted to get her back out on the pontoon boat, how she wanted him to trim the rose bush," that she stared at in their back yard.

[Last modified October 18, 2004, 02:10:34]


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