Our card this week is Irving Schumann, the Five of Diamonds from Arizona.
On a September afternoon in 2008, 84-year-old Irving, a well-known Phoenix real estate developer
and Jewish philanthropist, was firing off some work emails alone in his office when
an intruder burst in.
Irving tried to fight off his attacker in an intense struggle, leaving behind a horrific
crime scene and a mystery that has endured for nearly 15 years.
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
On the evening of September 2nd, 2008, 84-year-old Irving Schumann and his good pal Ethan had
plans to enjoy a fun night out.
The two had a 6 p.m. dinner reservation and tickets to the Broadway show A Chorus Line
at Arizona State’s Gammage Theater.
Ethan was first to arrive at the restaurant, but as he waited and waited, there was no
When Ethan couldn’t reach him on his cell, he tried Irving’s house phone, and Therese,
Irving’s longtime girlfriend of 14 years, picked up.
Ethan asked her if Irving had been running late or had forgotten about their plans, but
she said no, Irving wasn’t home, and in fact, she hadn’t seen him since she’d gotten
home from work a few hours ago.
Even more strange, Therese said Ethan wasn’t even the first person to call asking where
Irving might be.
One of Irving’s grown daughters, who lived out of state, had also just called the house
looking for her father after she couldn’t reach him on his cell.
This made Therese uneasy.
She stopped making dinner and glanced down at the kitchen counter, and that’s when
she saw it, Irving’s show tickets.
And just like that, her unease turned to alarm.
After hanging up the phone at around 6.30, Therese jumped into her car and headed toward
Irving’s office in North Central Phoenix, which is just about like two miles or so
from their house, so she was there in no time.
When she pulled up to the off-white one-story commercial office plaza, which was in front
of a busy intersection and bus stop, the pit in her stomach grew when she realized Irving’s
98 gold Lexus was not in the parking lot.
Therese walked into the unlocked office and called out for her partner as she took in
the horror around her.
There was blood smears on furniture.
There was blood on the walls and window blinds.
Irving’s glasses, which he always had on because he couldn’t see without them, were
on the floor.
Frantic, Therese continued her search, looking everywhere she could for Irving, but she couldn’t
find him anywhere, so finally she went to the back end of the office’s interior, where
there’s also a storage room.
Therese’s heart must have been racing as she opened the unlocked door and saw Irving,
who was unresponsive, on the floor, covered in blood.
When Irving didn’t respond to her cries, she ran out of the storage room and back through
the bloody crime scene.
Once she was outside, Therese cried and screamed into the phone as she dialed 911.
Some people in neighboring businesses who knew the couple rushed outside and approached
Therese, who was inconsolable.
Post-responders arrived soon after, around 7.15pm, and right away Irving was pronounced
Irving was in bad shape.
All they could really deduce by looking at him was that he’d been hit repeatedly with
some sort of object and he put up a fight.
As far as figuring out what Irving had been beaten with, investigators were stumped because
there was no weapon left at the scene.
Here’s Phoenix Police Detective Michelle Cervantes to explain.
Typically, it’s difficult to determine if it’s not a pattern wound.
So for instance, like a hammer, if you’re struck with a hammer, it will leave a pattern
injury and most time the medical examiners will be able to determine what kind of object
Detective Cervantes wasn’t originally assigned to the case, but she’s part of the six-person
cold case homicide unit responsible for the investigation today.
Since the attack obviously took place in Irving’s workplace, there were definitely some random
office supplies that could theoretically have been used to commit the murder, but none of
them matched the injuries on his body, which were mostly on his head and upper torso.
As a result, there was a lot of blood at the crime scene, and techs needed to figure out
if it was all Irving’s.
So they swapped blood droplets near the front of the business, on the floor, as well as
smears that were found on walls and on a paper shredder, though they knew that it would be
at least a few weeks until results from the testing could be analyzed, so it would be
important to find potential witnesses to the crime.
Police outside started talking to anyone who might have seen or heard something out of
the ordinary that day, primarily people from other nearby businesses.
Police also worked to get statements from some of Irving’s colleagues who had started
to gather there after word spread, and of course, they talked to Therese.
Therese told police that the last time she talked to Irving was around 7 that morning
when she left the house for work.
Now she didn’t return home till about 4.30 or 5, and she walked police through her timeline
of fielding the phone calls about Irving’s whereabouts, rushing to the office, and finding
his body before calling 911.
In kind of a weird twist, Therese also told the cops that Irving’s car was missing, along
with a handgun that he usually kept in the drawer of his desk, when he wasn’t carrying
Police learned more about Irving as a person.
They were told that he was a loving partner, dad, and grandpa, and everyone said that he
was a warm and comforting presence who had a habit of wearing a fanny pack full of cash,
and he enjoyed giving out $2 bills and $1 gold coins to kids.
Which totally tracks when you consider the fact that between his three kids, who were
grown, he had six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren that he adored.
And the $2 bill thing is just such a grandpa move, it’s actually something that my grandpa
used to do when he was alive.
Police also learned that Irving, or Irv, as his friends and family called him, was originally
The U.S. Navy World War II vet relocated to the valley in the 60s and considered himself
a proud Phoenician, which was also evidenced by his fierce devotion to the Suns basketball
Irving himself was in great shape and loved to play racquetball.
Aside from his real estate business, which he’d run for 50 years, investigators learned
that he was well-known in philanthropic circles and was super active in the Jewish Community
Foundation of Greater Phoenix.
He had even been awarded the Medal of Honor by the Jewish Federation’s Regional Chapter,
which is the highest accolade the group gives out.
So based on what police were gathering about this guy, it was clear that he was someone
who was an incredibly integral and visible part of his faith community.
With that in mind, investigators had to entertain the possibility that maybe this was a murder
driven by anti-Semitism.
Irving’s employees, who’d started to gather at the scene when they heard what happened,
said they didn’t know of any bitter clients or sketchy real estate transactions or honestly
anything that might have given someone a motive to do this.
The last employee to see Irving alive that day, again, this is September 2nd, told police
that he left the office at around 2.30 p.m. and that Irving was at his desk sending emails
and he seemed to be in good spirits.
And after that employee left for the day, Irving was on his own.
His employees were forthcoming and helpful.
So they were all immediately ruled out, as were the people who worked in nearby businesses.
I don’t think any of those individuals should be looked at as suspects.
You know, you’re along a busy street.
We don’t know what that area looked like back in 2008.
We’re talking, what, 14 years later?
So things can change.
I don’t have any reason to believe that any of these nearby businesses that were contacted,
that the employees would lie that they didn’t hear anything.
To try and confirm what Irving had been doing when his killer busted in, police pulled
Irving’s work emails.
And sure enough, he had sent a flurry of emails between 2.15 p.m. and 4.15 p.m.
Which made investigators think that whoever killed him probably entered the office between
4.15 and 6.45, which is roughly around the time that Therese pulled up to check on him.
Police went through each and every correspondence that he sent, but they didn’t find anything
weird or suspicious.
In fact, other than the large amount of blood, the only thing about the crime or the scene
itself that really stuck out to police was the fact that Irving’s car, along with his
leather fanny pack of cash and his handgun and his gold coins, were all missing.
Which made them wonder if Irving was the victim of a robbery turned homicide.
Perhaps the killer took advantage of an elderly man alone in a business at the end of a workday.
But where do you go with that?
When a crime is potentially totally random, where do you start?
Well, lucky for investigators, two days after Irving’s body was found, a call comes in
that tells them exactly where to start.
The call came in at around 2 a.m. and it was police in San Bernardino, California on the
other end of the line.
They basically said, hey, one of our traffic cops ran plates on a 98 gold Lexus and it
came up as stolen.
And he’s like, you know, when we tried to pull them over, they actually tried to take
off but ended up crashing.
And long story short, we got these two guys detained if you want to come talk to them.
And absolutely, they wanted to talk to them.
Detectives wasted no time and immediately hightailed it to San Bernardino, about a five-hour
And that’s where they met with the officers involved in the traffic stop.
San Bernardino police debriefed their Arizona counterparts about how they made the stop
in the wee hours of the morning.
They said the two people in the car were both 30-something men who local police were
familiar with because they had a history of drug-related charges.
And in fact, the two seemed to be under the influence of something when the car was pulled
Detectives were hopeful that these guys might hold the answers to solving Irving’s murder.
But what San Bernardino police told them next made them less sure.
According to reporting in the Daily Breeze newspaper, they told them that Irving’s
Lexus had been seen frequently over the last two days near an area in and around a Greyhound
bus station on 6th and G Streets.
This is adjacent to some, like, small hotels.
Detective Cervantes said that the two men stole the car from the parking lot of the
Economy Inn on West 6th Street the day before.
The men told police that the keys were just, like, straight up on the ground near the car,
as if someone dropped them.
But the men say that they didn’t know whose car it was.
And they were adamant that they were in no way associated with whoever stole it first.
In fact, they’d only driven the car around for maybe half a day or so before they were
picked up by police.
So even though this seems like maybe it’s a dead end, the accused car thieves did change
the course of the investigation with what they did share with police.
According to Detective Cervantes, when they finally spoke with them directly, the men
told investigators that word on the street was, prior to them stealing it, the car was
being driven by a transient man who ditched it at one of the hotels and boarded a Greyhound
bus out of the area as recently as September 3rd, which is just the day before.
Police continued to question the accused California car thieves about their whereabouts from the
past two days.
But the pair insisted they were just joyriding and they had nothing to do with any murder.
In the end, police were able to vouch for the fact that these guys were both in San
Bernardino on September 2nd and hadn’t been anywhere else in the days since, certainly
Investigators also couldn’t find any real connection for either men back to Arizona.
Now even if these men didn’t seem to be who they were looking for, police definitely weren’t
leaving San Bernardino empty handed.
Phoenix and San Bernardino worked together to process the car, which is how they came
upon another possible clue.
They came up with partial fingerprints that belonged to someone who was in Irving, and
not just in one place, they were all throughout the car.
On the rear view mirror, on the gear shift, on the outside of the gas cover.
But unfortunately, the prints and any touch DNA that they got belonged to the two men
who were accused of stealing the car after the suspect.
So this really didn’t move the needle at all for police.
Before they hit the road back to Arizona, Phoenix police paid a visit to the hotels
in the area near the Greyhound station to see if they could turn up any info about the
transient man who supposedly been getting around in Irving’s Lexus.
But considering they didn’t exactly know who they were looking for, their efforts didn’t
turn up anything solid to run with.
In a September 5th, 2008 article in the Arizona Republic newspaper, Danielle Schumann-Heller,
one of Irving’s three grown children, was quoted saying,
We are thrilled they found the car, and hope it will lead to finding out who did this to
Our greatest concern, other than laying our father to rest and giving him a fitting funeral,
is finding out who did this to him."
On September 5th, Irving’s family members held a funeral and services for a man who,
by all accounts, was a giant in the community.
In no time at all, an online guestbook attached to Irving’s obituary attracted dozens and
dozens of entries from all over as loved ones mourned.
They reminisced about Irving excitedly talking basketball over shared Shabbat meals, about
how Irving still took the time each week to call his 94-year-old aunt just to check
in, about how he, quote, was just a ridiculously likable guy.
Someone also wrote,
You will always be remembered by me as a man with a kind heart, a strong sense of justice,
and a soul filled with kindness.
By September 12th, about two weeks after the case agents returned to Phoenix, Irving’s
autopsy findings, as well as the results from blood swabs taken at the crime scene,
The medical examiner concluded that Irving’s cause of death was a result of blunt force
trauma and strangulation.
It still wasn’t clear, though, what kind of object Irving was beaten with.
As for the blood found throughout the business, it mostly belonged to Irving.
And while the lab results indicated that there were some foreign profiles in the submitted
samples, there weren’t enough markers in any of them to submit to CODIS.
Despite the promising momentum at the front end of the investigation, police started to
hit a wall after about three weeks of legwork.
Then months later, an officer accidentally stumbled upon a new lead in the case.
On November 19th of 2008, a Phoenix patrol officer came across a man who was asleep at
a bus stop in front of Irving’s workplace.
Now the man was local, but didn’t have a place to live full time, and Phoenix has a law on
the books that makes it a crime to sleep in a city-owned space, so the guy was actually
And this was a guy who was also known to police.
He had a history of drug and weapons-related offenses and was known to regularly hang out
in the parking lots and surrounding areas behind the bus stop.
Despite the man being arrested in a public space, Detective Cervantes declined to provide
us with his name and referred to him only by his initials, D.A.
According to the detective, though, the officer who arrested and booked D.A. got to talking
with this guy and was asking him what he’d been up to lately.
D.A. told police that he’d taken a trip relatively recently to visit some friends
in San Bernardino.
Investigator’s interest was officially piqued, especially considering D.A. couldn’t tell
them the exact dates of his trip, nor could he say how he even got there.
He originally said he flew to California, but that story fell apart when he couldn’t
even say what airline he traveled with or provide any kind of trip confirmation.
Then D.A. relented and was like, oh, okay, I was just confused and I actually took the
More specifically, he told police he’d taken a Greyhound to and from San Bernardino.
Now, even though D.A. supposedly couldn’t recall the exact dates he traveled, officers
had something to work with.
Since police knew D.A. and where he tended to loiter, it wasn’t difficult to infer
when he skipped town, so investigators were able to figure out the approximate timeframe
of his trip and that it was likely in the first week of September, based on when he
was and wasn’t known to be hanging around the bus stop and the plaza parking lot.
So police were extremely curious to learn more about what specifically took D.A. out
to San Bernardino around the time a local murder victim’s car was found in the same
But it also wasn’t lost on investigators who were working the murder that pretty much
all of this information was circumstantial, no matter how incriminating.
That is, until police compared the items that were found on D.A. during his arrest with
a list of known missing items from the crime scene.
And get this, on D.A.’s person, police found multiple golden dollars and a $2 bill,
just like the ones Irving used to gift to kids.
And they also found a couple hundred in cash, which wouldn’t have been uncommon for the
84-year-old to be carrying in a fanny pack that he usually wore.
Now the fanny pack itself and the gun, however, were not found on D.A., but what they did
find was enough for police to consider him their lead person of interest.
When he was asked about where these items had come from and how he got them, D.A. stopped
cooperating with investigators altogether and he refused to answer any more questions.
So they had to release D.A.
With this individual, I did not run across any reports indicating that they attempted
to contact him again.
When our reporter asked Detective Cervantes why the items found on D.A. weren’t grounds
for an arrest or even a search warrant to go through any of his belongings, she said
that the evidence was purely circumstantial and that a warrant was never even considered
since the items found on D.A. were the only items he had on him.
There were no personal belongings or backpack or really anything else that they even could
She also said, to her knowledge, none of the items underwent any kind of DNA testing, so
they couldn’t be, like, definitively linked back to Irving.
After that, the case went completely cold.
Detectives never found any threats or indications that Irving was targeted because of his religion.
And after finding that stuff on D.A., they pretty much decided that it had been a robbery
and that D.A. was responsible.
But there was still not enough for an arrest.
In 2009, a year after Irving’s murder, Silent Witness, which is a nonprofit public information
arm of the Phoenix Police Department, tried to drum up interest for the case by upping
the reward offered for information.
Investigators say that on Tuesday, September 2nd of 2008, sometime between 2 and 5 p.m.,
84-year-old Irving Schumann was murdered inside his business off of Camelback Road
in North 7th Avenue.
They believe that the suspect may have stolen his car, which was later recovered in San
Bernardino, California, but they’ve not yet identified a suspect in this case.
If you have any information that would lead to the arrest or indictment of the suspect
in this case, the reward has been increased to up to $11,000.
But as far as we know, nothing came from the announcement.
In the fall of 2012, Irving’s family announced that, for a limited time, they would increase
the reward money to $30,000 for information that led police to their dad’s killer.
Here’s Amy and Rick Schumann in an October 2012 interview with Phoenix’s ABC affiliate.
I want justice for my dad and nothing is going to bring him back, but I, for me, I really
think I would feel better.
It is our deepest prayer that someone will come forward and do the right thing.
Around the time of the five-year mark in 2013, the Phoenix PD’s Cold Case Unit performed
an audit of all the work done in this investigation to date, poking holes in their own work to
determine what, if any, fresh steps could be taken.
It didn’t yield us any probative results.
At this point, we’ve done all of the DNA that we could and also all the latent print
analysis that we could.
So right now we’re heavily relying on the public to come and hopefully give us some
After that case review in March of 2014, police got what some might consider to be a huge
break in the case.
Irving’s handgun was recovered at an undisclosed location in Las Vegas.
Detective Cervantes said that police were led to the stolen gun when they were investigating
an unrelated home invasion case.
The person who had Irving’s gun on him told police that he had obtained the gun from a
third party who law enforcement never identified and therefore couldn’t track down.
And I know this sounds out of the blue and totally random, and unfortunately, that’s
all Detective Cervantes said that she knew about the recovery of the gun.
She didn’t have any other information that would shed light on why or how authorities
were able to locate the gun 300 miles northwest of Phoenix and six years after it was believed
to have been stolen.
You know, questions we have were like, how were Phoenix police even informed that it
Who made the connection that it belonged to Irving?
Was there any kind of DNA testing performed that could maybe lead to any insight?
I mean, it’s a little frustrating because Detective Cervantes couldn’t tell us if any
real investigative work was done after that or if they were continuing to try and build
a case just against DA.
The most she could account for in the next stretch of time that was from 2014 to 2019
was pointing to some unfounded tips that would come in here and there.
For example, police fielded theories and speculation about the possibility some disgruntled tenant
Irving leased property to had it out for him, but that never checked out.
Beyond that, even if they were getting closer to charging DA with Irving’s murder or looking
for a chance to interview him again, they lost their chance in 2019 because he died.
Now Irving’s family and friends are left hoping that the truth about his murder didn’t
die with DA.
Maybe Phoenix police know more than they’re telling us, but it seems like they’re still
missing a piece of the puzzle that could actually close Irving’s case.
I believe every cold case is solvable.
In this case, unfortunately, we don’t have any witnesses or any witnesses that have come
I don’t believe that there are witnesses because he was alone in this business.
So I would hope that there’s people out there that have more information because whoever
did this most likely spoke about it and talked about it.
But those people aren’t coming forward to let us know for unknown reasons.
There’s multiple reasons why people don’t want to come forward.
That would be big if they could.
And it’s unfortunate that if it does end up being this person of interest, he’s already deceased.
Just because the primary suspect is dead doesn’t mean that Irving and his loved ones
don’t deserve to close this horrific chapter of their lives.
If DA did do it, police believe that he would have told someone.
Maybe it was when he allegedly drove Irving’s car to California or when he got back to Phoenix.
If you knew DA, a transient man who was known to hang out near the bus stop and business
complex off Camelback Road and North 7th Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona, and you think that
you may have information about the September 2nd, 2008 murder of Irving Schuman,
it’s time to speak up.
Or if you interacted with him in San Bernardino in early September 2008 at the Economy Inn
where Irving’s stolen car was ditched.
Or maybe you know something related to a different suspect that police should consider.
If you do, please call Silent Witness.
You can remain anonymous and earn a reward up to $2,000.
Their number is 480-948-6377.
Irving’s children and grandchildren deserve answers.
Let’s help them find some.
The Deck is an AudioChuck production with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work, visit thedeckpodcast.com.
So what do you think, Chuck?
Do you approve?