TACOMA, Wash. — After nearly 23 years, Jeff Iafrati got the phone call he never expected to receive.
”It was unreal,” said Iafrati, “I thought, ‘Oh this is one ugly joke on New Year’s Eve’.”
On the other end of the call was a Tacoma police detective telling Iafrati someone had been arrested in the 1991 murder of his brother, Jerry Iafrati.
Michael Schaef pleaded not-guilty to Iafrati’s murder.
A court commissioner ordered Schaef held in jail on a million dollars bail.
A statement from an inmate at the state’s women’s prison gave police and the Iafrati family the break everyone had been waiting for.
Nicole Wyatt is serving a six-year prison sentence for assault. She was married to Schaef at the time of the murder.
She originally told police her husband had nothing to do with the murder, but last November a Tacoma cold case detective said Wyatt told him she had lied to investigators.
Schaef’s brother, Ernest Schaef, said the statements made by an ex-wife, who is serving time, should not be considered very credible.
”Because she’s evil,” said Ernest Schaef, “My brother told me he didn’t do it. I believe him. He’s never lied to me before.”
Prosecutors said physical evidence also links Schaef to the killing.
Iafrati said if detectives have arrested his brother’s killer, the family will be very grateful for the work of Tacoma police’s cold case unit.
”It would be very rewarding and fulfilling,” said Iafrati.