57 F.3d 1073 (7th Cir. 1995), 94-2821, Schaefer v. Newton

Docket Nº:94-2821.
Citation:57 F.3d 1073
Party Name:Gerard SCHAEFER, Plaintiff/Appellant, v. Michael NEWTON and Avon Books, Defendants/Appellees.
Case Date:June 08, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 1073

57 F.3d 1073 (7th Cir. 1995)

Gerard SCHAEFER, Plaintiff/Appellant,


Michael NEWTON and Avon Books, Defendants/Appellees.

No. 94-2821.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 8, 1995

Submitted June 7, 1995. [*]

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA7 Rule 53 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, No. 93 C 614; William E. Steckler, Judge.

S.D.Ind., 868 F.Supp. 246.


Before POSNER, Chief Judge, and PELL and ESCHBACH, Circuit Judges.


Gerard Schaefer, a Florida inmate convicted of two murders, brought this action for defamation against an author, Michael Newton, and his publisher, Avon Books (Avon). Jurisdiction arises from the diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). 1 The district court granted summary judgment for Newton and Avon Books. Schaefer appeals. We affirm.

I. Background

In 1973, Schaefer was arrested for aggravated assault after two women who he had abducted and tied to a tree in a remote section of Florida escaped and contacted the police. Near the site where the women were held, police found a grave containing two bodies, later identified as Susan Carole Place and Georgia Jessup. Schaefer was convicted of murdering both women and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Police investigators found evidence in Schaefer's mother's home that made Schaefer a suspect in other murders. The evidence included jewelry, women's clothing, human teeth, a passport, and manuscripts which detailed ritualistic murders. (App. at 53). The police investigation resulted in several newspaper and magazine articles written about Schaefer, concerning police suspicion of Schaefer in other murders. For example:

Jayne Ellison, 6 Dead; 28 May Be: A Trail of Butchered Girls, Palm Beach Post-Times, May 13, 1973, at 1 (reporting Schaefer to be a suspect in a series of murders in South Florida, Virginia, and Iowa). (App. at 61).

Two Murders Linked to 26 Lost, Slain, Miami News, May 14, 1973, at 14A (reporting Schaefer to be a suspect in the murders). (App. at 64).

Crime: Bluebeard on the Beach, Time, May 28, 1973, at 31 (reporting that Schaefer was under investigation for at least 20 murders after police found incriminating evidence in his mother's house). (App. at 71).

Pat Plarski, Killer's Book: Fiction or 'How-To'?, Palm Beach Post, Aug. 14, 1989, at 1 (reporting on the publication of a book by Schaefer and describing him as being a suspect in the deaths of several women in Florida). (App. at 79-79).

Michael Newton is an author who wrote Hunting Humans: The...

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