JSO makes arrests in 1999 stabbing death of Jacksonville business owner

JSO makes arrests in 1999 stabbing death of Jacksonville business owner

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has arrested a retired JSO officer and his ex-wife for a cold case from 1999 that happened in the Deerwood area.

Back in January, Action News Jax did a story on the 1999 cold case with Project Cold Case.

Content Continues Below

On May 17, 1999 around 9:30 a.m., Saad Kawaf’s life was violently taken inside his Deerwood home, according to JSO Detective Margaret Rhatigan who had taken over the case.

JSO submitted DNA and other evidence to be tested but so far, no suspects have been publicly identified until today.

About 2 weeks ago, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab gave detectives potential suspect names.

64-year-old William Baer Jr., a retired JSO officer and Melissa Joe Schaffer, 50.

Schaffer was taken into custody Thursday in Jefferson City, MO and Baer was taken into custody Wednesday by JSO.

According to JSO, Baer was an active JSO officer at the time of the murder. His acquaintance with the victim stems directly from his assignment at JSO.

A statement from the victim’s family:

We are thrilled. We are grateful. Not a day has gone by that we don’t miss our beloved Saad. The past 21 years have been the hardest to not only be without a man who meant so much to our family but to know that the people who did this were not held accountable for their actions. We are grateful to the brave members of the cold case unit and all members of law enforcement who have worked tirelessly on our behalf to ensure justice and that Saad’s memory will never be forgotten.
Heather Kayal - Victims's Niece.

A statement from the State Attorney’s Office

Despite more than 20 years passing, this arrest shows the importance of cold case work in law enforcement and the value of genetic genealogy. The case will be prosecuted by State Attorney Melissa Nelson and Chief Assistant L.E. Hutton.
State Attorney's Office