The story of photographer Joel Schoenfeld and his killer, John Valverde, the ex-con-turned-youth-saver, will be dramatized in a new episode of The Perfect Murder. The Investigation Discovery documentary will roll out several compelling and tragic stories of murder during the fourth season premiere. The first episode is called “A Shot in the Dark.” Investigators say Joel Schoenfeld was gunned down in his West Greenwich Village studio apartment more than 25 years ago by John Valverde. It took investigators months to solve the vigilante murder case. John Valverde killed the photographer after his girlfriend, a model, complained that Schoenfeld had raped her.
1991: W. Studio Village Apartment Murder, Killer Escapes
New York City Police detectives arrived at the 375 West Street apartment in 1991, where they found the body of a 45-year-old deceased male. He was identified as Joel Schoenfeld, a well-known fashion photographer in the area. The victim had a gunshot wound to the head. There was a witness inside the apartment when the cold killing occurred. The woman told police that a mysterious man came to the door, argued with Joel, and then shot him, before fleeing the scene.
The woman didn’t know the strange man’s identity. For months, the case puzzled police as they tried to find some clues leading to the killer. However, as each lead dried up, it seemed that the case might not ever be solved.
Joel Schoenfeld was generally well-liked in the community. However, the investigation revealed that behind the curtain of success, he had some deep-rooted problems. He was on parole at the time of his death for two sexual offenses. He also had a reputation for being sexually inappropriate with the models.
Sex Abuse Victim Killed Alleged Rapist
There was finally movement in the case after a tipster alerted police to take a look at John Valverde. The witness identified the Queens man as the killer.
Detectives learned that John Valverde, 21, had killed Joel Schoenfeld out of revenge for his girlfriend’s rape. Attorneys for John Valverde say that it was more than revenge that caused him to kill Schoenfeld. He was also battling memories of his own rape and sexual abuse, which occurred when he was just a little boy.
When his girlfriend was attacked, John Valverde knew exactly what it was like to be betrayed and hurt. A natural problem solver, Valverde wanted to protect his girlfriend the only way he knew how — by killing Joel Schoenfeld, court records detail.
“John became obsessed with it, and his physical emotional health deteriorated. It was in this fragile emotional state that he lost self-control.”
- He spent 16 years in a New York State correctional facility.
- After his release, John started working to help youths change their lives.
- He was named CEO of YouthBuild USA Inc, according to the Seattle Times.
While researching, this writer found an old 1992 Newsday article about the case. According to Newsday, after John killed his girlfriend’s rapist, he came home and told her he didn’t know if she would love or hate him, but he took care of the problem. The May 14, 1992, article titled “I Took Care of It” is not available online.
On Wednesday’s The Perfect Murder, the episode will reveal if it was Valverde’s girlfriend who ended up making the call that connected him to the crime.
Redemption and a New Life
John Valverde was convicted and sent to prison. While incarcerated, the former convict took advantage of the rehabilitation programs inside the facility, got a degree, and turned his life around.
The Perfect Murder, which is produced by Kaufman Films, will air 10 episodes this season beginning this Wednesday at 8 p.m. The third episode’s time will change to 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery. Be sure to check your local listing for precise time changes. Last season on The Perfect Murder, the mysterious case of Carol Montecalvo was examined.
This week’s episode of The Perfect Murder shows that anyone can change their lives. Here is a video of the real John Valverde speaking about the difficulty of finding work after incarceration.
[Featured Image by Investigation Discovery]