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Former UNI softball player arrested in Missouri for Florida cold case murder

Melissa Schafer Mug
Melissa Schafer
William Baer Mug
William Baer
Melissa Schafer UNI 1
Melissa Schafer (first row, far left) as a member of the 1988 UNI softball team
Melissa Schafer UNI 2
Melissa Schafer (first row, far left) as a member of the 1989 UNI softball team

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri (KWWL) -- A former Cedar Rapids Jefferson softball star has been arrested, along with her ex-husband and retired homicide detective, with murder in connection with a 1999 killing of a man in Jacksonville, Florida.

Melissa Schafer, 50, was arrested in Jefferson City, Missouri Thursday. Her ex-husband, William Baer, 64, who was a detective with the Jacksonville County Sheriff's Office at the time of the murder, was also arrested Thursday in Florida. Investigators say DNA profiles put together by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement linked the two to the murder of Saad Kawaf.

The Jacksonville County Sheriff's Office says Kawaf was stabbed and killed when a man and woman attacked him in his driveway and then tied up his wife in their home, before stealing $30,000 from the couple. The sheriff's office says Baer was a 27 year veteran of the force, serving with the department from 1975 until his retirement in 2002.

Investigators say Baer met Kawaf through his job as a detective and was investigating him in connection to a crime when the murder happened. Undersheriff Pat Ivey wouldn't say if that investigation played a role in the murder.

Schafer played softball at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids from 1984-1987, making first-team all-state three times as an outfielder. Schafer went on to play two seasons in college as a center fielder at the University of Northern Iowa. She was inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union's Softball Hall of Fame in 2014.

Both Schafer and Baer are charged with murder in connection to Kawaf's death.

Trevor Oates

Executive Producer

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