Ex-girlfriends of Joshua Schneider provided emotional testimony to jurors Wednesday, as they highlighted bits of Schneider’s character they claimed drew them in on dating websites.
Schneider is accused of killing NSU Professor Dr. Tiffany Maher in May 2013. Among those who testified in the murder case against was Heather Black, considered a key witness for prosecutors.
Black dated Schneider in 2013, after meeting him in an online dating site. She recalled to jurors the photo Schneider sent her, wherein he wore a blue, checkered dress shirt, with his hair cut short.
“He called it his ‘Captain Morgan’ pose,” Black told jurors.
He liked to use the name “Big Daddy,” and after only a few months of knowing each other, Schneider moved into Black’s Tulsa area home.
It was during their relationship that Schneider, with Black and his 2-year-old daughter inside a car, fled from authorities in the Tulsa area when they tried to stop him. Black said Schneider’s daughter was not in a car seat when the pursuit reached speeds of more than 100 mph.
It was July 2013, and before the chase, Schneider had asked Black to purchase a new SIM card for a cell phone.
When police tried to stop Schneider that day, Black testified, he made a comment that “it was over,” though Black told jurors she initially didn’t know what he was talking about.
“I was scared,” she said.
During the pursuit, Schneider handed Black a “stack of cards” and told her to “toss them out the window.” Black said she refused at first, but eventually followed Schneider’s orders. She said she never looked at the cards.
Leonardo Espinoza told jurors Wednesday that he found Schneider’s driver’s license when he went for a run in the Tulsa area. He at first left the items on the side of the road, but called the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation the next day when he saw a news report about a pursuit near his home, and heard details of the ongoing probe.
Espinoza said he recognized Schneider’s driver’s license, which matched the suspect he saw on the news report.
Black told jurors that when Schneider noticed police had stopped chasing after the car he was driving in Tulsa, he exited from U.S. Highway 169 at Pine, then drove to an abandoned field.
She cried as she recalled what happened at that point.
“He turns the AC on full blast, rolls the driver’s side window down,” Black said. “I cracked the passenger-side door window. He gets out, and he’s yelling at me to get out of the vehicle. I’m completely shaken and scared. He’s telling me to come with him, and telling me to leave [his 2-year-old daughter] in the car.”
Black said Schneider told her he was wanted in the questioning of a murder.
Black then testified at length about the following days during which she and Schneider were running from authorities. They stayed in wooded areas at night, and Schneider had discarded the SIM cards from all his cell phones – three or four, Black testified – and her own cell phone.
“He believed the police were tracking him,” Black said.
Black admitted that before the two fled from police, she had taken $100 in petty cash from the office in which she worked. Schneider had $65, and while they were on the run, Black’s payroll was deposited into her checking account, so she would withdraw money and turn it over to Schneider.
As the days passed, Schneider allegedly told Black he had left his DNA at Maher’s home after they had sex. He told Black that Maher was “blackmailing him” over a previous relationship.
“He told me that he murdered her,” Black said. “He said that he bound her hands and he bound her feet, and then he bound her hands and her feet together with rope, then took one of her pillow cases and he put it around neck. He said it took a really long time for her to stop breathing, and that her eyes clouded over.”
Schneider also detailed his attempt at setting fire to Maher’s home, “but that she had no carpeting in her bedroom, and it made it really hard for the fire to stay lit, and he had to relight the fire.”
Schneider told Black he had set a fire beneath Maher’s bed, and another in the living room, Black testified.
“He told me that the only way we’d ever be separated was if he killed me,” Black said, “that if we got caught, that I was to say I was with him [at Maher’s home]... .”
Black said Schneider ordered her to tell authorities, if necessary, that Maher was “still alive when we left her house.”
Black told jurors she stayed with Schneider as he was on the run because she feared he would go after her own children.
“I was scared that he would get away with murder,” she said.
According to Black, Schneider revealed he met Maher at an apartment complex near 81st and U.S. 169 and rode with Maher in Maher’s own car. To get back to his truck from Maher’s home in Tahlequah, he had to drive Maher’s car.
On July 27, 2013, Black called her daughters. She and Schneider had rented a room at a Holiday Inn in the Tulsa area. After checking out, she told Schneider she was going to call police and turn herself in.
The two parted ways, and Black called authorities. Black then helped authorities in their investigation, until they were able to locate and arrest Schneider.
“I was completely terrified,” Black said.
She was booked into jail for child neglect, but charges were ultimately dismissed. Black told jurors she assumed she was to help in the prosecution against Schneider, but said she was never told to do so as part of the charges being dropped. She also voluntarily provided investigators with some of her DNA.
First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp asked whether she had done so voluntarily, and Black said she did.
“Ma’am, did you kill Tiffany Maher?” Thorp asked Black.
“No,” she replied.
Earlier in the day, jurors heard from an ex-girlfriend of Schneider who met him through an online dating website in November 2012. They first met in person on Jan. 12, 2013. Schneider claimed he was a single father, and suggested that to get full custody of his daughter, the courts might rule in his favor if he and the woman would live together as a family.
She tried to get Schneider to move to Stillwater, where she worked and lived, but he wouldn’t buy into that idea, and instead suggested he would “just cut off communication” with her if she didn’t move to Tulsa.
The woman moved to Tulsa, and lived for a week or two with one of her long-time friends. She then moved into a Motel 6 on Garnett, along with Schneider and the woman’s daughter. Then, she learned Schneider was “already married.”
It was also while she lived with Schneider in the motel that she discovered a credit card with her father’s name on it. When she confronted Schneider, he told her he took the card because they needed more money.
The woman said she had not given Schneider her personal information, but said her father’s name and Social Security number were both printed on her birth certificate, which Schneider likely got out of her files.
She then packed up and left.
The woman also testified Schneider had once asked her to get an identification in the name of another woman – an ex-girlfriend who testified to jurors earlier in the week – but she refused. She said Schneider had that woman’s birth certificate and Social Security number.
And like the other former girlfriend who testified to jurors, the ex on Wednesday claimed Schneider had choked her during sex.
“He likes to choke during sex,” she said. “It was like, to the point where I felt like I was going to pass out.”
He wouldn’t always stop when asked to do so, she testified.
The woman told jurors that Schneider was initially “charming.”
“He knew how to talk to draw you in,” she said. “Just telling you what you wanted to hear, that you’re beautiful. He would say stuff like that.”
Other witnesses Wednesday included Joell Parks, an investigator for Amazon. She testified that Maher’s Kindle Fire was “de-registered” from Maher’s name on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, and re-registered to a customer named “Big Daddy” three minutes later.