Musante was a carpenter, who had found comfort in the
church after personal struggles. For years, he had poured himself into Reeder’s
United, using his carpentry skills to repair the building. He even made the
desk in the office where his body was found.
Weeks before Joe Musante's death, he discovered that
his wife, Cindy, was having an affair. Even worse, it was with the family's trusted
pastor -- A.B Schirmer, shown here with Cindy. Musante was devastated.
When Rose Cobb, right, learned of her brother, Joe's,
death, she couldn't believe it. She had a lot of questions about the
circumstances that led up to it. "I knew that something was not right,"
she told "48 Hours."
Betty Schirmer had died three months earlier after a
car crash. A.B. Schirmer said he was driving her to the hospital late at night
with jaw pain, and he was going around 55 mph, when he had to swerve to avoid
a deer and hit a guardrail. He had told authorities Betty wasn't wearing
her seatbelt at the time. She was Schirmer'ssecond wife to die suddenly.
"It just struck me as funny that so many bad
things was happening to him," said Rose Cobb, so she called the Pocono Township
Police Department to take another look at the three deaths that now surrounded
According to Det. Wagner, the story that A.B. Schirmer
had been driving around 55 mph at the time he swerved to avoid the deer didn't
make any sense. There were no marks to indicate swerving on the road, the car's
air bags hadn't even deployed, and the car was still drivable after the crash.
As Wagner took a closer look at the crash photos, he
also saw that the blood drops on Betty's seat had "a diluted or an
absorbed look to it, as if she had been sitting in that blood for some length
Investigators obtained a permit to search the
parsonage where A.B. and Betty Schirmer had lived before her death. Almost
immediately, Det. Wagner noticed what looked to him like blood drops on the
floor of the garage.
surveillance of A.B. Schirmer, investigators saw that he always pulled his car
into the garage the same way, and they made a diagram of where the bloodstains
would be compared to the car. The path lined up to the passenger's side door of
the car. "And the blood that led to the car, stopped at the car,"
At the same time that the parsonage was being
searched, investigators brought A.B. Schirmer into the State Police barracks to
be interviewed. He maintained his story about the crash, but when asked about
the blood in the garage, he explained that months earlier, Betty had cut
herself moving a stack of wood from the garage to the yard.
Officers also found a newspaper at the base of the woodpile,
dated Sept. 21, 2008, two months after Betty's death. To investigators, it signaled that it would have been impossible for Betty to have cut herself
moving the woodpile, and that A.B. Schirmer was lying.
On Sept. 13, 2010, A.B. Schirmer was arrested for
Betty Schirmer's murder. Authorities in nearby Lebanon County, Pa., were also
putting together a case against Schirmer for the murder of his first wife, Jewel.
medical examiner who looked at both cases compared the wounds that Betty and
Jewel Schirmer died from, and it was his opinion that they died of remarkably
similar injuries. "Deja vu all over again. Here we are," he said.
A.B. Schirmer went to trial for Betty's murder in
January 2013. The jury deliberated for just 90 minutes before returning
with a guilty verdict. He was sentenced to life in prison, without parole. He
is awaiting trial for Jewel's death sometime in 2014.
Authorities say that if it wasn't for Rose Cobb asking
those questions about her brother, Joe Musante's death, Schirmer would not have been
brought to justice. Cobb says it was Joe's memory that pushed her on. "I just felt like… I'm only doing what
he couldn't do for himself," she said. Watch: Death at the Parsonage