Man, Acquitted Once, Gets 8 Years In Death Of Tortured Girlfriend

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A man who admitted guilt after a jury acquitted him in the 1988 sexual torture slaying of his fiancee got an eight-year federal prison sentence yesterday for perjury.

Melvin Ignatow pleaded guilty to the perjury charge last month after explicit photos of the crime were discovered hidden in his former home.

"I don't think justice was served," U.S. Attorney Joseph Whittle said following the sentencing.

Some members of victim Brenda Schaefer's family could not hide their anger as they left the federal courthouse.

"We got a raw deal," said Schaefer's sister, Carolyn Kopp. "Brenda didn't deserve this. She was a good girl."

A jury acquitted Ignatow in December following a trial in northern Kentucky, where the case was moved because of pretrial publicity in Louisville. He was indicted on a federal perjury charge in January for lying to a federal grand jury about the case.

Ignatow, 54, maintained his innocence until Oct. 2, the day after owners of his former home discovered jewelry and three rolls of film taped inside a floor duct and covered by carpet.

When developed, the film showed about 100 photographs of Ignatow sexually torturing the 36-year-old Schaefer, who was buried in a shallow grave after the killing on Sept. 24, 1988.

Ignatow smiled and shook hands with his lawyers before the minimum sentence of 97 months in prison, with no chance for parole, was announced by U.S. District Judge Edward H. Johnstone. The judge also placed Ignatow on three years' supervised release after completing the prison term.

Prosecutors and a judge involved in Ignatow's murder case said they could not retry him on that charge now because of the U.S. Constitution's ban on trying someone twice in the same crime.

Court documents said the newly discovered photographs depicted "sexual acts, sadomasochistic bondage, disrobing and torture of Brenda Sue Schaefer."

Ignatow's former girlfriend, Mary Ann Shore-Inlow, testified at his murder trial that she took pictures the night Ignatow brought Schaefer to her southeast Louisville home for "sex therapy."

Shore-Inlow told jurors that Ignatow had locked Schaefer inside the house, forced her to undress and assaulted her over a two-hour period while she was tied face-down, first to a coffee table, then to a bed.

When Ignatow entered his guilty plea, he told the court that Schaefer died peacefully after he forced her to inhale chloroform.