David Mark Schwochert (Aug 2, 1956 – Jan 1, 1973) was a junior at Burlington High School in Burlington, Wisconsin. He liked his woodworking class, he was quiet, disciplined, and was called “even tempered.”
He had a part time job as a gas station attendant at Clark Service Station on 590 Milwaukee Ave, Burlington, Racine, Wisconsin. According to his boss, Scott Lees, there were never any issues with customers.
This is the Case of the Month for December 2020.
What do we know?
David (16) took over the night shift on New Year’s Eve in 1973 from a colleague. Whether that colleague was the intended victim, isn’t clear but I doubt it. Most likely, this was an opportunity crime committed by a person who saw just one attendant on duty and knew that they carried change with them. This person then took a chance. They stole about $60 from David. The money in a back room at the gas station was still there.
David’s body was found around 8am. He was two miles away from the station. A coin changer similar to David’s was found 8-9 miles away from his body, and his wallet was found about 1 mile away as well as a bloodstained towel. Was the coin changer still full? Any finger prints? Do we still have the towel? We don’t know whether David was transported by car, whether he walked, etc. I have not found any information about dragging signs or tire tracks, etc.
According to the Journal Times of Jan 5, 1973, all items were sent to a state lab but I have not found anything about test results. If these items still exist another round of tests with modern technology (incl. the M-Vac) could possibly bring some answers. I am especially hopeful if we still have that towel and if it was properly preserved.
Then-Sheriff Robert Bertermann thought that David Mark Schwochert was taken from the gas station between 345-415am possibly at gun point. After all, David was shot dead. However, we do not know what caliber gun was used or, if the murder weapon was ever found. Was that murder weapon ever used in another crime?
In another article placed on the website Find-a-Grave, we can see that police was looking for a 1958 Ford sedan. I am not sure what the follow-up has been on that car.
Cause of death
I am confused about the cause of death because of the way David’s death was reported in the papers. In these articles from January 2, 1973 and January 3, 1973 it says that the cause of death was not immediately determined. So, that makes me wonder: what was the exact cause of death? Gunshots? To the heart or head area? Internal injuries? Exsanguination? What was the time of death?
UPDATE: David’s sister just told me that her brother was shot twice in the head. The gun indeed, was never found.
A sixteen-year-old died thinking that he was doing someone else a favour by taking over a night shift on New Year’s Eve so that this colleague could celebrate the passing of 1972 into 1973. I am deeply sorry for the Schwochert Family that David never had that chance to see another New Year’s Eve.
His sister, Deborah Regner, told me that their parents have both passed away. The only consolation that we have in this case is that they are reunited with David.
With this post, the series Case of the Month has come to an end as this is the last one for 2020. It isn’t the same as celebrating New Year’s with family and friends but David, on my website, your case is the transition between 2020 and 2021. I will be thinking of you when I raise my glass to the New Year.
Rest in peace, David Mark Schwochert.
In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis and of course, more information can be found online and in newspaper archives.
We need to get these cases back in the mainstream media, to get people talking again, and if anything, to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are unsolved does not mean that we can forget about them.
I encourage you to share this post on your own social media platforms. By sharing these posts, the cases reach new networks, new connections, and new news feeds. Maybe one day these updates will pop up in the right person’s news feed. This may be someone who can actually help advance the case and that is my goal.