Arizona Death Row: Oldest Prisoner Executed


After 35 years in custody, Edward Harold Schad, 71, was put to death in Arizona this morning. Schad was sentenced to death for the 1978 murder of Lorimer Grove. Schad was the oldest inmate on death row in Arizona.

Schad was given pentobarbital and nine minutes later breathed his last breath. He is the 35th inmate to be executed in Arizona since 1992. The Supreme Court rejected a last minute request for reprieve. The highest court was Schad’s last chance after lawyers were unable to convince a federal judge and an appeals court last week to block the execution.

Schad was convicted in 1979 of the murder of Grove but the sentence was overturned. He was tried again, convicted and sentenced to death in 1995. Grove was 74 when he was killed during a robbery.

In 1978, Grove’s body was found in some underbrush near Prescott, Arizona. Schad was arrested a month later in Salt lake City driving Grove’s car and in possession of his credit cards.

Grove was last seen pulling a trailer with his new Cadillac. He was to visit his sister in Washington state. On Aug. 9, 1978, he was found with a rope knotted around his neck. It remains a mystery how the two encountered each other. Schad claimed to have never met Grove and only had his car in a bizarre trade amongst thieves.

Schad met with several people before his Wednesday morning execution. On Tuesday evening Assistant Federal Defender Kelley Henry visited him in the state facility in Florence. He reportedly said he was grateful for the kindness shown him by the correctional officers. He also met with a Lutheran pastor who administered last rites.

Schad repeatedly met with the clemency board throughout the years and said he believed he was on death row by mistake. He admitted to being a car their and a forger, but not a murderer. Defenders have suggested that Schad was mentally ill and are bothered that was never brought up in court. Three juries and countless judges disagreed.

Grove’s death was not Schad’s first murder conviction. He was convicted in the death of Clare Mortensen who was found dead in his Salt Lake City home. Mortensen was found naked, a cloth around his face and neck, hands bound. An autopsy showed he was sodomized and had sodomized another person. When investigators found a credit card receipt for a flight to Germany in Schad’s name, he was arrested by military police. Moretensen’s jacket was in his possession.

Schad was convicted of second-degree murder, sent to prison and paroled in July 1977. It was while he was on parole that Grove was killed.

The Arizona Republic reported this morning that Schad joked with medical staff as they prepared for the lethal injection.

“Well, after 34 years, I’m free to fly away home,” he said. “Thank you, warden. Those are my last words.”

Schad’s death leaves 119 people on death row in Arizona, two of whom are women. This was the first execution in Arizona in 2013. Across the country, 28 people have been executed.

Written by Linda Torkelson




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