A Sarasota man was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder in connection with the 2003 murder of Anneliese Schweickardt.
A Sarasota County jury Tuesday convicted John Mellquist, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Mellquist's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 29 before Sarasota County Circuit Judge Charles Roberts.
Schweickardt’s body has never been found.
According to a release, the investigation began as a missing person's case in October 2003, when a friend of Schweickardt reported that she stopped receiving regular contact from Schweickardt back in April. Schweickardt, who was a German citizen who lived in the United States on a tourist visa, was in the process of evicting Mellquist, who rented a room in her Sarasota home. When initially contacted, Mellquist gave different accounts of her possible whereabouts, the sheriff’s office said. It was later learned that Mellquist forged and cashed checks from her bank account and used her vehicle after she had disappeared.
Detectives and forensic technicians in 2003 conducted an exhaustive search of Schweickardt’s home and surrounding area which revealed signs of a violent encounter inside the home, including significant blood stain evidence that indicated she was likely murdered.
According to the sheriff’s office, these discoveries coupled with what detectives believe were lies during their questioning of Mellquist led them to suspect that he had killed her.
Despite years of investigation, the victim's body has never been found. Because of that and Schweickardt not having any immediate family such as children, the sheriff’s office said it took years for investigators to build a DNA profile of the victim from personal items left in the residence and put the case together. Advancement in DNA testing and the capabilities of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab led detectives to establish enough probable cause to arrest Mellquist in 2013.
“The sheriff's office would like to compliment the detectives, forensic technicians and members of the 12th Judicial Circuit Office of the State Attorney who dedicated several years of hard work in bringing a resolution to this case,” the release states.