In April 2013, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Domestic Violence Unit and Criminal Investigations Division became involved with Joseph Schmitt (w/m, dob: 8-26-66). The Domestic Violence Unit assisted the local female victim in obtaining a Domestic Violence Injunction against Schmitt.
In June 2013, Schmitt was arrested on a burglary charge related to the ongoing domestic violence issues. Later in June, Schmitt was arrested again for Violation of the Domestic Injunction. At the time of this arrest, Schmitt barricaded himself in his home and fired fireworks at deputies. The Bay County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team was called out; however, Schmitt surrendered prior to their arrival.
In July 2013, Schmitt was arrested without incident for misuse of the 9-1-1 system.
Throughout this time, the Domestic Violence Unit maintained contact with the victim and secured her in a Domestic Violence Shelter in another county.
In August 2013, the Domestic Violence Unit began receiving information that Schmitt had persons in and around Bay County that he wanted to kill. A citizen reported that Schmitt had inquired the services of a hit-man to carry out the killing of several people in Bay County. At that time, it was learned that Schmitt wished several people in Bay County killed; to include: Judge Allen Register and Judge Chris Patterson.
An Investigator with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division was introduced to Schmitt in an undercover capacity and began a dialogue with him via telephone calls and text messages. During this time, Schmitt solicited the Investigator to abduct, torture, and kill both Judge Register and Judge Patterson. During this timeframe, BCSO received information from other citizens of Schmitt threatening to kill persons in and around Bay County, to include the two Judges. The BCSO Domestic Violence Unit also intercepted phone calls to the victim, where he threatened the victim, other citizens of Bay County and the two Judges.
As a result of this investigation, Bay County Sheriff’s Office obtained warrants for Schmitt for Solicitation to Commit Murder and two counts of False Report to Department of Children and Family Services. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office obtained warrants for Schmitt for Aggravated Stalking and two counts of Violation of a Domestic Violence Injunction as a result of the threats made to the victim in St. Johns County. The Lewisville Police Department in Lewisville, Texas will be charging Schmitt with Injury to the Elderly and Interference with an Emergency Call in regards to Schmitt attacking his 90 year old mother in the early morning hours of August 22, 2013. Schmitt’s mother was beaten by Schmitt and he attempted to smother her with a pillow. Schmitt also used a knife to damage most of the property in the home before fleeing. More charges could be placed on Schmitt from all agencies involved.
Both Judge Register and Judge Patterson were kept apprised of this investigation. Upon learning that Schmitt was en route to the Bay County area, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Washington County Sheriff’s Office provided personal protection for the two Judges until Schmitt was apprehended.
On August 22, 2013, the Investigator working in an undercover capacity learned that Schmitt was en route to Bay County from the Dallas, Texas area. The U.S. Marshal’s Task Force was called to assist in the apprehension of Schmitt. U.S. Marshals were able to locate Schmitt in a casino motel in Shreveport, Louisiana. Schmitt was arrested without incident; however, after his arrest, he stated that he had booby trapped his hotel room with explosive devices. The casino had to be evacuated and a bomb team called in to clear the room.
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance in this investigation:
United States Marshal Service
Washington County Sheriff’s Office
Holmes County Sheriff’s Office
Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office
St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office
Lewisville, Texas Police Department
Salvation Army Domestic Violence Center
Department of Children and Family Services
Information by Capt. Jimmy Stanford
Approved by Major Tommy Ford