Retired U.S. marshal Richard Schroeder, a Newtonian, died Thursday of what appears to be natural causes at the age of 62. The Newton Police Department initially investigated his death as “very suspicious,” but preliminary autopsy reports available Friday indicate natural causes.
Richard Schroeder had stories to tell — stories of his involvement in the arrests of many high-profile criminals, such as Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, cult leader Tony Alamo and bank robbers Terry Lee Conner and Joseph W. Dougherty.The retired U.S. marshal, a Newtonian, died Thursday of what appears to be natural causes at the age of 62. The Newton Police Department initially investigated his death as “very suspicious,” but preliminary autopsy reports available Friday indicate natural causes.At about 9 p.m. Thursday, Schroeder's wife arrived home at 1016 Boyd St. to find Schroeder lying in the driveway with head injuries, according to the Newton Police Department. Newton Fire/EMS responded, but Schroeder was pronounced dead at Newton Medical Center.Sgt. Craig Dunlavy with the Newton police said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation was brought in to “make sure it was done right,” given Schroeder’s years with the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the high-profile cases he was a part of. And he said the NPD had to investigate the death as suspicious, because if they hadn’t and evidence of foul play turned up, they would have had to play catch-up. The Harvey County Sheriff’s Department and Harvey County Coroner’s Office assisted in the investigation. Final autopsy results likely will not be available for months.Schroeder spent four years on the Salina Police Department before becoming a deputy U.S. marshal. His 27 years with the U.S. Marshal Service led to stories of all sorts of run-ins. In a 1999 Kansan story about his impending retirement, Schroeder said he had a clue early his professional life would not be dull, going directly into the final battle of Wounded Knee, S.D., in April 1973. And that was just the beginning.He held on to the handcuffs he used on Terry Nichols when FBI officials delivered him to Wichita in late April 1995. He spent 18 months in pursuit of Conner and Dougherty, who were two of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted at the time. He then went to Central America to track some of the world’s worst drug runners and cartels. He previously had provided security for Dr. George Tiller, the late-term abortion provider in Wichita who was shot dead this summer, first as a U.S. marshal and then as a private detective. Schroeder retired from the U.S. Marshal Service on Jan. 1, 2000. Since then, he had run a bail bondsman business, worked as a private detective and recently made Wichita headlines as one of the partners in a venture to create a 400-bed privately operated work-release center.Schroeder and his wife have lived in Newton since 1979.