• Straw hat could be key to solving 1970 murder of Brinks security guard

    By: Lorena Inclan , Action News Jax

    Updated:

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    Brinks is one of the most recognizable cash management companies in the world.

    Despite their sensitive work, it’s uncommon to hear they’ve been targeted by criminals, but that’s exactly what happened in 1970 when armed men ambushed a driver and his partner in Jacksonville.

    The driver was murdered in a shootout that unfolded before dozens of people at a popular department store.

    The case remains unsolved.

    Newspaper headlines from those days read "Brinks guard slain in hail of gun fire." 

    Photos show detectives at the scene after a shootout in broad daylight made headline news June 17, 1970.

    They’re snapshots of the day that changed the lives of Adrienne Sachse and Diana Miller forever.

    “The first words was, she said ‘They shot your dad and they killed him’,” Sachse said .

    Sachse was 17 years old at the time but she'll never forget those words from her mom.

    Miller was 13, and the questions she had back then are the same ones she has today.

    “Why would someone rob a Brink's truck and kill someone? For what? For money?” Miller asked.

    Their 43-year-old father, George Schwender, worked as a Brink's security guard to support his wife and six children.

    During an in-town run at the local Zayre's Department store on Beach Boulevard he and his partner, Harry Schenk, were ambushed by gunmen.

    “It was a full blazing gun battle,” Sachse said.

    It was around 3 in the afternoon. Schenk was coming out of the store with a bag full of checks, receipts, and some cash.

    Schwender was inside the armored Brink's truck.

    “He was locked in a secured vehicle. He didn't have to open the door,” Sachse said.

    According to reports, Schwender opened the truck's door returning fire and trying to help his partner who was critically wounded but survived.

    JSO’s cold case unit supervisor Sgt. Dan Janson said his department is now taking another look at the case.

    “I have one significant piece of evidence that we've discovered and it appears that we still have in our possession. It's a hat,” Janson said.

    Janson said there were eight witnesses. More than one described a suspect wearing a straw hat.

    “There's a strong possibility we might be able to run this for some DNA and see what we come up with,” Janson said.

    JSO also has a palm print and 33 photo negatives that still need to be developed.

    “We believe there were three, two gunmen and a getaway driver and we believe the getaway driver is most likely a female,” Janson said.

    The would-be robbers did not get away with any money during the ambush.

    Newspaper clippings show someone was arrested and charged in the case but later released after providing an alibi.

    Schwender's children have all grown up, forced to live their lives without their dad.

    “He never saw us graduate from high school, never saw anybody get married, never saw any grandchildren,” Sachse said.

    Now, this case could be closer than ever to getting solved.

    “If they're out there and they're not in jail already for something else they need to be put in jail,” Miller said.

    George Schwender’s case is also featured on ProjectColdCase.org

    If you have any information about this case or any other cold case you’re asked to call JSO or Crimestoppers and 866-845-TIPS.

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