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Defendant in 2003 torture killings brought to Tampa to face trial

TAMPA — Two young men vanished in December 2003, each after visiting a nightclub.

Mothers mourned. A brother raged. Jurors saw pictures of men bound and naked, eyes shut, in a Seminole Heights bungalow and heard testimony of sex and torture. Two defendants went to federal prison — on drug charges, not murder charges.

This week, a crack opened on the past and out fell federal inmate Scott Paul Schweickert, 48, who arrived at 9:39 p.m. Thursday at the Hillsborough County Jail to the prospect of a murder trial in state court.

A 2012 Hillsborough County grand jury indictment accuses him of first-degree murder in the deaths of Michael Wachholtz and Jason Galehouse, both 26. The state filed notice that it intends to seek the death penalty.

Schweickert long ago implicated another man, Steven Lorenzo, in the killings.

In a recorded conversation with investigators, Schweickert said the two met Galehouse at 2606, a gay nightclub on Armenia Avenue, and brought him back to the bungalow for sex.

Schweickert said he came out of a bathroom to find Lorenzo with Galehouse's lifeless body, which they dismembered with a power tool and scattered around town in garbage bins. The body parts of the interior design student were not found, but his blood was left on concrete in Lorenzo's garage, according to testimony.

The next night they brought home Wachholtz, who Schweickert said died after a few minutes of rough sex.

Lorenzo, 55, is serving a 200-year sentence in federal prison for giving nine men, including Wachholtz and Galehouse, the "date rape" drug GHB with the intent to commit violence, and for conspiring with Schweickert to distribute the drug.

Schweickert, convicted of giving the drug to Wachholtz, is serving a 40-year term.

Hillsborough State Attorney's Office spokesman Mark Cox declined to discuss the case because it is pending.

Court records show that Assistant State Attorney Mike Sinacore has been trying for three months to get custody of Schweickert from the federal Bureau of Prisons.

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Defendant in 2003 torture killings brought to Tampa to face trial 05/16/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2014 10:36pm]
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