Man charged in fatal stabbing of wife at Maui grocery store

Published: Apr. 19, 2016 at 11:21 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 21, 2016 at 8:33 PM HST
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Stephen Schmidt (Mug shot)
Stephen Schmidt (Mug shot)
Schmidt is seen sitting on the ground after being arrested. (Viewer Image)
Schmidt is seen sitting on the ground after being arrested. (Viewer Image)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his 24-year-old estranged wife in a Wailuku grocery store Tuesday night.

Two men who tried to intervene were also stabbed and listed in stable condition.

The stabbing happened about 6:15 p.m. in the Kehalani Foodland, when police say 45-year-old Stephen Schmidt started an argument with a man who was with his estranged wife, Kehau Farias Schmidt.

After a brief struggle with the man, Schmidt allegedly sliced his estranged wife's throat and injured two men, ages 53 and 34.

A woman, who was inside the store during the attack but didn't want to be identified, said she told Foodland employees that Schmidt appeared to have been stalking the 24-year-old woman who was with another man.

"He was very suspicious and that just bothered me," she said.

The woman said she heard screaming from one of the aisles about ten minutes later.

"It was really really scary. Especially when they were yelling he had a weapon because we didn't know if he a knife or if he had a gun, I didn't hear any gunshots but all you heard was 'weapon' and 'they're bleeding!' panic and you just try to stay calm because everybody else in the store is panicking," she said.

"One guy came by the service counter, he looked like he was stabbed right in the chest, blood was just falling down off of him," the witness said. "He was conscious, blood was coming down, maybe it was his adrenaline helping him move, I don't know. But then he fell to the ground after that, and another guy helped him and wrapped around a torn piece of cloth to hold the wound area."

Schmidt fled in a car down Kamehameha Avenue, and was later arrested on Molokai Hema Street in Kahului.

Schmidt's bail was set at $3 million.

The three victims were taken to the Maui Memorial Medical Center for treatment, where Schmidt's estranged wife later died.

"You can't just take someone's life and be OK with it," her best friend, Sydnee Jones, said.

Police said Schmidt used a knife to stab the three victims and was going for a fourth victim when he stopped and fled the scene instead.

In addition to first-degree murder, Schmidt has been charged with two counts of attempted murder.

Court records show Schmidt has a criminal past. He was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1992 for burglary, terroristic threatening, and a weapons charge. The convicted felon also has two family-related abuse cases. Over the years, judges have required him to undergo mental examinations and counseling.

Friends of the victim say she was trying to get away from him by filing a temporary restraining order which was granted last week, but never thought it would come to this.

"She knew that he was kind of bipolar and not a stable person, but she had no idea he would do something like that to her," said Jones.

Jones said that her friend worked for an elementary school and the kids loved her and she will be missed dearly.

"I'm pretty sure I won't be over it for awhile because it's hard losing someone that close...I miss you a lot, I wish you were here. You were gone way too soon, I love you," she said.

The Kehalani Foodland was closed following the stabbing, and will reopen Thursday.

In a statement, Foodland officials said they are "shocked and saddened by the tragic incident."

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families and friends. We don't yet know all the details of what occurred, but are cooperating fully with Maui police and investigators," the statement said.

Foodland also said employees who were at the store when the stabbing happened are getting support.

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