Suspect arrested, charged in Pina case

February 25, 2009 3:25:08 PM PST
Investigators are just scratching the surface when it comes to finding the motive behind the murder of Sabrina Pina. They say the man responsible for the brutal killing is one of her former classmates. [PHOTOS: Images from Sabrina Pina case]

Evidence from the scene led detectives straight to their murder suspect. And after questioning him, they also discovered this was no random crime.

Harris County sheriff's deputies said it was a single fingerprint that led them to Theodore Schmidt, 27. It was found on duct tape that was used to bound Pina's wrists and cover her eyes. Investigators used the print to find Schmidt, who has a history of arrests for minor offenses.

"That was huge. I can't speculate on where we'd be because there might have been something else, but that's huge," said Lt. Nelson. "He can offer no explanation on how that print got on that piece of tape that was on her head."

Schmidt is charged with capital murder, accused of kidnapping Pina from a store last Saturday. Deputies say he shot her to death and dumped her body in a ditch in northwest Harris County.

Pina's death startled the community. Some believed her murder was a random act, but after arresting Schmidt, deputies learned it was much more than that.

"They went to high school together at Klein High School," said Lt. Nelson. "We found them in yearbooks. They were both in the same yearbooks, 1999-2000."

"According to him, they hadn't spoken since just after high school," added Nelson.

As for how well they knew each other, that's unknown at this time. Detectives also say they're trying to find out how he came into contact with Pina, why he killed her and if he was alone.

Investigators say Schmidt was a mechanic by trade, but had been making a living by selling items on Craig's List and eBay. One neighbor with whom we spoke told us he often worked on cars in his garage, but mainly kept to himself. Nonetheless, she says something about Schmidt troubled her.

"We didn't trust him," said neighbor Roxie Rudder. "Something about him, we just didn't trust."

Schmidt's fingerprints were in the criminal database because of a theft charge from last year. Ironically, he was in court on that charge this past Monday. A man in New York says he tried to buy an auto engine and transmission from Schmidt on eBay. The man said he mailed a cashier's check for $6,400, but never received the parts.

No bond has been set in this case.

Funeral services have now been set for Pina. A viewing is set for Thursday at the Klein Funeral Home on Champion Forest Drive. Her funeral is Friday morning at Christ the Good Shepherd Church on Klein Church Road. She'll be buried at Klein Memorial Park in Tomball.

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