Judge declares man 'murdered,' but police seek more evidence for charges

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2013 - 1:09 PM

Despite probate ruling, police still seek evidence against girlfriend of a St. Paul postal carrier who vanished in 2009.

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Jacqueline Dubay and Jay Dubay

Four years after postal carrier and Navy veteran Harold “Hal” Schroetter vanished, a Ramsey County probate judge has declared the Falcon Heights man dead — murdered on his way to his estate attorney’s office to remove his estranged girlfriend as beneficiary.

As with four metro women slain recently trying to leave relationships, Schroetter, 57, was kicking out his girlfriend. His body hasn’t been found.

But that hasn’t deterred investigators and police from pursuing leads to answer the question of what happened to him.

Investigators say the motive was an inheritance worth as much as $750,000. Ramsey County Probate Judge David Higgs recently blocked the girlfriend, Jacqueline “Jackie” Dubay of St. Paul, from collecting insurance or other benefits from the death.

“By a preponderance of the evidence, the court has determined that Jacqueline Dubay intentionally and feloniously murdered Decedent,” Higgs wrote in probate findings and conclusions filed Jan. 31.

Even though the civil probate court concluded that Dubay, 50, is responsible for Schroetter’s slaying, she hasn’t been charged in criminal court, which requires more evidence.

Dubay did not return calls seeking comment.

“I would like to see this case prosecuted because that would give closure to the family and hopefully bring the person who’s responsible for the crime to justice,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said. “But we need more evidence in the Schroetter case.”

A $50,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to an arrest and a conviction in the case.

“The investigators and the prosecution have a strong suspicion about who committed this murder, but the reality is that we have to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Choi said. “And we know through past experience that obtaining a conviction when you don’t have a body raises a whole host of issues in terms of provability.”

The Schroetter case differs from that of Kira Trevino, who was last seen on Feb. 21. Her body hasn’t been found, either, but authorities did find “copious” amounts of her blood in her St. Paul home — enough to charge her husband, Jeffery D. Trevino, with second-degree murder. “In the Schroetter case, you don’t have a lot of blood and there’s potential for explanation of a number of things,” Choi said. “We just keep plugging away.”

What do siblings know?

Investigators want to talk with anyone who spoke with or saw Jackie Dubay or her brother, Jay Dubay, in late February 2009.

Jay Dubay, 44, of Lake Park, Minn., allegedly replaced a liner in his sister’s trunk a week after Schroetter disappeared. Schroetter’s blood was found elsewhere in the trunk, said St. Anthony Police detective Tim Briski and agent Mike Wold of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Cold Case Unit.

The investigators say that the siblings are lying for each other and that they declined polygraph exams.

Investigators, St. Anthony Police Chief John Ohl and probate papers say Schroetter was preparing to boot Dubay and her three daughters from his house in the 1300 block of W. Larpenteur Avenue.

Schroetter was worried, he confided to his estate attorney during a phone call on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009. He set up an appointment with her for his day off, Feb. 26, 2009, to change beneficiaries and get a notice of eviction for Dubay.

“He told her that he had mentioned to Jackie that he was going to change his beneficiaries and she made a veiled threat that ‘You better think twice about doing that,’  ” Briski said. “He wanted to get it on record in case something happened; he wanted her to know.”

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