Nearly a year after the murder of their daughter, a Renton couple still struggles to cope with the loss and hopes other families can learn from her death.
Jessica Scholl, 17, was stabbed to death inside her family’s home in Renton on May 25, 2012. Her body was found after the accused killer, Jarod Lane, lit the home on fire and fled.
“You don’t sleep. You don’t eat. You sit around and cry,” Jessica’s father, Doug Scholl, told The Seattle Weekly’s Ellis E. Conklin in an article published Feb. 17. “Lots and lots and lots of crying, and you deal with stuff you never thought you’d ever deal with.”
Doug Scholl and his wife Stephanie spoke with KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson about what they want other families to take away from Jessica’s death.
“We don’t want anybody else to have to deal with that,” Scholl said.
Two weeks before the murder, Jessica, who was a junior at Renton’s Lindbergh High School, broke off a relationship with Lane, whom she dated briefly. The day of her death, court documents say Lane showed up at her home begging to “see her face once last time.”
What Jessica may or may not have known was that Lane was the subject of a civil-protection order for allegedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old female classmate while a sophomore at Renton’s Hazen High School. After the incident, a King County judge ordered that Lane not attend the same school as the girl, which is why the district transferred him to Lindbergh.
Jessica’s parents found out about his past only after the murder.
“I can’t help but think there would be something different now,” said Doug, who wishes parents had been notified about the accusation against Lane upon his transfer. “I would have forbid her from seeing him. I don’t know that she would have wanted to hang out with him if she knew he was capable of that.”
But Lane was never charged criminally for the assault, during which he is alleged to have pushed the girl against a wall and grabbed her genitals. Dan Donohoe with the King County Prosecutor’s Office said there “was a lack of evidence of forcible compulsion.”
Randy Matheson, a spokesperson for the Renton School District, said there was no indication that Lane was a danger to students other than the girl named in the protection order.
“He was just another student who transferred into a school,” Matheson said. “The documents that the judge provided did not say that he was a danger. There was nothing that the courts or the law said that we needed to watch for.”
State Sen. Kirk Pearson, who has worked to pass stricter reporting standards for juvenile sex offenders who attend public schools, said the assault at Hazen High School should have been reported and Lane should have been charged criminally.
“When no one knows their prior history or prior background, then you get situations of grooming and dominance and then it comes to a head like that horrible story in the Scholl case,” he said. “Schools should be a place of learning where kids can succeed and find their dreams, it shouldn’t be a place where we have domestic violence and kids murdered.”
Pearson said counselors need to be better trained to identify early signs of domestic violence.
“I want to protect these young ladies that are attending our schools. I’m not going to sit here and let anything get brushed under the rug,” he said. “We’re not at the point where kids are safe yet.”
Matheson said teachers in the district have vowed to be more “socially engaged” with their students following Jessica’s murder. He said parents should do the same thing.
“If you can stay connected to your kids through their adolescence, meaning having conversations, watching their behavior, knowing who their friends are, where they’re going, things like that, it’s going to tell you a lot about them,” he said.
Stephanie Scholl said she wishes she had paid more attention to “red flags,” including an incident where Lane seemed to be controlling of Jessica.
She hopes other parents will learn from their experience.
“If we can save even one child’s life, spare a parent, it’s important,” she said.
Lane awaits trial for murder and arson. A case hearing has been scheduled for May 8.