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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Tape: Victim dismembered with power tool
The jury hears the defendant in the torture trial tell police he was forced to help dispose of a body.
By CARRIE WEIMAR
Published January 19, 2007
WARNING: this clip contains graphic descriptions from an interrogation with Scott Schweickert that lasted two hours and 20 minutes.
TAMPA - For 40 minutes, Scott Schweickert stuck to his story.
During a tape-recorded interview with authorities about the Dec. 19, 2003, murder of Jason Galehouse, Schweickert maintained he was an innocent bystander who only helped the killer, Steven Lorenzo, wrap the body in a tarp.
But as detectives grew increasingly skeptical, Schweickert finally cracked. After a long pause, he told them Galehouse's body was dismembered with a power tool.
"Did you help dismember?" asked Tampa police Detective Charles Massucci.
"He made me help," Schweickert said, quietly.
Jurors heard the two-hour-and-20-minute recording Thursday morning as a part of the prosecution's case against Schweickert, on trial for conspiracy and assisting in a drug-facilitated crime of violence. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison.
The recording was made on May 10, 2005, after Schweickert appeared before a grand jury in the Lorenzo case.
Lorenzo was convicted by a federal jury in 2005 and was sentenced to 200 years in prison.
On the tape, Schweickert described the night he and Lorenzo met Galehouse at 2606, a popular gay nightclub in Tampa.
He said they brought Galehouse back to Lorenzo's Seminole Heights home for "vanilla sex," meaning no torture or bondage.
Schweickert said he excused himself to go to the bathroom during the encounter. When he returned, he said Lorenzo had Galehouse in a wrestling hold. Galehouse's body was limp.
Schweickert said he was shocked.
"So many things rushing through your mind at that time," he said. "You're scared. You're panic-stricken. ... Out of a heated moment, you end up going along with it."
After dismembering the lifeless body, Schweickert said he and Lorenzo stuffed the parts in garbage bags and dropped them in Dumpsters around Tampa.
Schweickert said Lorenzo forced him to stay with him the following night and return to 2606 to search for another victim.
"He wouldn't let me leave," Schweickert said, crying softly.
The pair met Michael Wachholtz that night. Schweickert said Lorenzo persuaded the 26-year-old to leave with him.
"I was trying to give the kid signals to get out," Schweickert said. "But the kid felt pretty confident about himself. He wanted to go there."
When they returned to the home, Lorenzo and Wachholtz engaged in sexual activity. Schweickert said he watched but didn't participate.
After a few minutes of rough sex, Wachholtz's body went limp and his eyes dilated, Schweickert said. He was dead.
Asked if he believed Lorenzo used drugs to subdue Wachholtz, Schweickert replied, "There had to have been. There was no way the kid was going to die from the play they were doing."
On the tape, investigators noted several big holes in Schweickert's story. He had spent hours in online chats with Lorenzo discussing plans to find unsuspecting victims, drug them and torture them. Why was he so surprised by Lorenzo's actions?
"Fantasies are fantasies," Schweickert said.
Also Thursday, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday ruled jurors could not hear about Schweickert's 1998 conviction for aggravated battery.
According to court records, Schweickert asked an Illinois State University student to work on his computer, then confronted him with a pair of black handcuffs and a gun. The man tried to flee, and Schweickert pistol-whipped him in the back of the head, records show.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Porcelli argued the incident showed the evolution of Schweickert's violent tendencies. But Merryday sided with defense attorney Pedro Amador, who argued it was irrelevant.
The case is expected to conclude today with closing arguments.