Peter Gerard Jones (City of Novi)
Novi— A 46-yeard Novi man was charged today with killing his 84-year-old neighbor.
Peter Gerard Jones was formally charged in 52-1 District Court in Novi with first-degree murder and felony murder. Both crimes are punishable by life in prison.
Jones is accused of killing Bernice Irene Schauffle on Monday in her Novi condominium. He was arraigned by video from the Novi Police lockup.
Judge Dennis Powers ordered Jones held without bond because of two previous homicide convictions, one a Wayne County slaying that occurred in 1998. In that case, Jones was sentenced in September 2006 to 10 to 15 years in prison and paroled May 15, 2012, according to the state Offender Tracking Information System.
Powers said Jones also was convicted in a Florida homicide case March 15, 2000.
The judge ordered a preliminary exam to be held in the next five days.
Jones told the judge, “I haven’t talked to my family yet, so I don’t know if I will have a lawyer or if I’ll need a court-appointed attorney.”
Powers said he would name a court-appointed attorney for Jones in the meantime. After the hearing, Jones was to be taken to the Oakland County Jail.
Schauffle’s daughter and son-in-law called 911 after they found the victim unresponsive in her condominium at 2:43 p.m. Monday in the 20900 block of West Glen Haven Circle in the Country Place complex. The complex is near the intersection of Eight Mile and Meadowbrook.
In an autopsy conducted Tuesday, the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the woman was nearly strangled and suffered a stab wound in the neck. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Early Tuesday morning, police executed a search warrant at a condo adjacent to the victim’s home, where they found items they believe belonged to her.
Police arrested Jones after an officer at the scene saw him walking in the area and questioned him. The man made what the officer considered unusual comments, which raised suspicion. Police learned he was on parole for a 2005 homicide conviction in Wayne County, Novi Public Safety Director David Molloy said.
“We believe that obviously there was an element of home invasion, of robbery. Unfortunately, we don’t know what led up to the homicide,” Molloy said.
The suspect lived with relatives in a condo next to the victim’s, Molloy said.
Police say Schauffle lived alone, adding that not all of the units in the building were occupied.
The unit where the victim was discovered is inside a sprawling subdivision of townhouse-style condos; residents say its occupants are a mix of young families and seniors.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Novi Police Department at (248) 348-7100 or anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP.