TAMPA — Fourteen years after her son was killed in a crime that shocked Tampa Bay, Pam Williams finally got to stand face to face with one of the killers.
At a Tampa courtroom lectern, as television news cameras rolled, Williams held up a framed photo of her son and asked Scott Paul Schweickert to take a long, hard look.
"I look at it every single day," she said. "I don't even have a grave, a body or a tombstone. I have the city dump with my son ground up like hamburger meat in the dirt. So I hope you're satisfied. I hope you rot in hell."
Schweickert, 49, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Williams' son Jason Galehouse and another man, Michael Wachholtz, also 26, who died a similarly grisly death. Schweickert was sentenced to life in prison.
Standing stoically in Circuit Judge Vivian Corvo's courtroom, his disheveled, grey-flecked hair and scraggly beard belying his age, Schweickert admitted to killing Galehouse and Wachholtz after using them as sex slaves.
In the plea agreement, Schweickert agreed to testify against Steven Lorenzo, 57, a man he long ago implicated in the two men's killings.
Lorenzo, 57, has not yet been charged, but he is already 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 is serving a 40-year sentence.
Schweickert met Lorenzo online in 2003 and the two men talked about their interest in "bondage, torture and sadomasochistic sexual activity with men," according to the plea agreement. They developed a plan to meet single gay men and make them "permanent slaves."
"According to our plan and agreement, once we became tired of, or bored with, a 'permanent slave,' Steven Lorenzo and I would either sell the permanent slave to another practitioner of homosexual sadomasochism or kill" him, the plea deal states.
On Dec. 19, 2003, the men went to Club 2606, a gay club on Armenia Avenue, where they met Galehouse. According to the plea, Galehouse agreed to go to Lorenzo's house on Powhatan Avenue to engage in sadomasochistic sex. The men bound Galehouse to the bed and Schweickert had rough sex with him, the plea states.
Schweickert went to the bathroom and when he returned, Lorenzo had Galehouse in a sleeper hold. Schweickert admitted to throwing his body over Galehouse's legs to stop him from kicking. After Galehouse died, the two men dismembered him with an electric saw and dumped his body parts in trash bins throughout the city. They were never found.
The next night, they went back to the club and invited Wachholtz to Lorenzo's home, where Lorenzo spiked Wachholtz's drink with GHB. Schweickert admitted to holding Wachholtz down while Lorenzo put a solvent-soaked rag over his face until he passed out. The two men took off his clothes, taped his mouth and bound his arms and legs with handcuffs. He died on the living room floor.
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Schweickert said he helped Lorenzo wrap the body in a tarp and place it in the back of Lorenzo's Jeep. They drove to a Tampa apartment complex and left the Jeep in the parking lot.
Wachholtz's body was eventually found. Police accused Lorenzo and Schweickert and said there were other victims who survived.
Prosecutors charged Lorenzo with drugging nine men. They charged Schweickert with drugging Galehouse and conspiring with Lorenzo. Jurors saw pictures of men bound and naked, eyes shut, in a Seminole Heights bungalow and heard testimony of sex and torture. Though jurors convicted them of related crimes, the pair still were not charged with murder.
Schweickert was indicted on the murder charges in 2012 and prosecutors announced their intention to seek the death penalty. Part of the delay was due to a Miranda rights issue that was later resolved.
"It was a complicated case and we had to a take a methodical approach in order to secure convictions," said Mark Cox, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office in Tampa.
Cox declined to comment on when Lorenzo might be charged or whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
That's what Williams is hoping for. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Williams said she was disappointed by how long it's taking to resolve the case. She was fine with the plea deal for Schweickert if it leads to a death sentence for Lorenzo.
"He's the one that actually killed my son," she said. "You never have closure, but at least it will give me some peace of mind."
Contact Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.