Crime & Courts

Autopsy: No foul play in marshal's death

An autopsy has ruled out foul play in the death of retired deputy U.S. Marshal Richard Schroeder outside his Newton home.

Schroeder, 62, retired from the U.S. Marshals Service in 2001 after 27 years with the agency. He returned to the public spotlight in recent months with a controversial proposal to open a work-release center in south Wichita.

Police said Schroeder was lying in his driveway when his wife arrived home in the 1000 block of Boyd at about 9 p.m. Thursday.

She called 911, police said, and an ambulance took Schroeder to Newton Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Dave Stevens, supervisor of the U.S. Marshals office in Wichita, said Schroeder was a well-known figure in local law enforcement.

"He was the most tenacious fugitive investigator I ever met — extremely hard working," Stevens said. "He had

a very single-minded goal, which was putting bad guys in jail.

"He became known as one of the people the agency could tap to run task forces around the country and get results."

While Schroeder was supervising the Wichita federal marshal's office in the 1990s, he and his fellow agents were responsible for maintaining security in federal courtrooms, running the federal witness protection program and tracking down federal fugitives.

Stevens said Schroeder's image was etched into the nation's memory in 1995 when television cameras taped him escorting Oklahoma City bombing suspect Terry Nichols out of the U.S. Courthouse in Wichita.

"In fact, the shot of Richard leading Terry Nichols out of the courthouse and putting him into one of the vans became really well known," Stevens said. "On CNN, it was running every 30 minutes."

During his career as a U.S. marshal, Schroeder also provided court-ordered protection for abortion provider George Tiller during 1991's anti-abortion protests.

For a significant part of Schroeder's career — first as a marshal and later as a private detective — he helped provide security for Tiller, a nationally known late-term abortion provider and perennial focus of anti-abortion protests and threats. Tiller was fatally shot at his Wichita church in May.

Schroeder recently had been a partner in a proposed work release center in south Wichita that was touted as a way to ease pressure on the crowded Sedgwick County Jail. The proposal had called for Schroeder to run the center in a building at 2946 S. Hydraulic.

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