Wednesday, December 08, 1999

Trial opens for Carlie's accused killer

NKU grad's family hopes for life term

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Carlie Schulenberg
        This time last year, Carlie Schulenberg's family was thrilled that they'd see the warm, bubbly woman over the Christmas holidays. They were excited to hear about her life in Orlando, Fla., where she had moved after graduating from Northern Kentucky University.

        Today, her parents will sit in Orange County Circuit Court in Orlando, watching their daughter's accused killer go on trial.

        Randy Montgomery, 22, a maintenance man by trade, faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted burglary. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

        Police said Mr. Montgomery has admitted killing Ms. Schulenberg, 24, of Alexandria, on New Year's Eve. He called police, claiming responsibility and threatening suicide a few days after police discovered her body — in her apartment, wrapped in a sheet and stuffed into a fitted mattress pad.

        He had been working at Monteray Lake Apartments, near SeaWorld Orlando, and living four doors down from Ms. Schulenberg when, according to police reports, he used a master key, entered her apartment while she slept and stabbed her to death.

        Ms. Schulenberg, 24, had recently returned from visiting friends and family in Northern Kentucky. The NKU theater major wanted to be a children's acting coach and choreographer. She was working on a TV series for preschoolers, Doolie and Pals, at Disney-MGM Studios.

        “It's been very hard and very sad,” said Connie Ward, Ms. Schulenberg's mother. “I'm anxious for (the trial) to be over and to put it in its place. I hope that there are no problems and that things go smoothly. I think it will help in the healing process.

        “A chapter will be closed ... a lot of chapters will go on for the rest of our lives. I want him to spend his lifetime in prison with no possibility of parole. I don't want to relive this every time his parole comes up.”

        Her father, Bob Schulenberg of Edgewood, also wants a life-without-parole sentence. It appeals to him more than the death penalty, which Orange County prosecutors are not pursuing.

        “Life in prison is much worse,” he said. “You always look forward to something — snow or a Christmas vacation. If you are permanently incarcerated, you have absolutely nothing to look forward to. I can't even begin to imagine what torture that would be.”

        But William Hancock, the public defender representing Mr. Montgomery, said they might not get their wish.

        “We are hoping for a lesser charge (such as) second-degree murder or manslaughter,” he said, noting such convictions would carry maximum sentences of life in prison with the possibility of parole. But, “We'll have to see what happens. I don't really think (a conviction) is a sure thing.”

        He refused to comment further. Prosecutor Jeffrey Ashton could not be reached.

        At Ms. Schulenberg's visitation, mourners stretched from her casket at the front of St. Pius X Church, Edgewood, to the entrance at the opposite end. Many talked about how happy and lighthearted Ms. Schulenberg was.

        Her parents can vouch for that. They both said their daughter had an uplifting spirit and had a warm, generous nature.

        “She was just bubbling over,” Mr. Schulenberg said. “There was no such thing as gloom.”

        Neither parent regrets letting her move to Florida, where she had befriended Mr. Montgomery. He had helped her move into her apartment just months before her death.

        Ms. Schulenberg never hinted that they were having troubles or that they were anything more than acquaintances.

        “I don't ask why any more,” Mrs. Ward said. “We've given that up. We're concentrating on our lives and her memory. She was on the road to achieving everything she wanted in the entertainment business. She was determined. She knew she was taking a risk. She wanted (that job) very much.”

        Mr. Schulenberg still recalls how exuberant and vivacious she was on that last visit home. “She was living her dream, without a doubt,” he said.

        Ms. Schulenberg taught acting at Indian Hill Middle School before getting hired as a children's coach at Disney-MGM Studios.

        Mr. Montgomery was engaged at the time of the slaying. He wrote suicide notes to his fiancee, detectives on the case and the apartment complex manager before calling police dispatch and claiming responsibility. He was placed on a suicide watch.


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