Melissa Schafer pleaded guilty Friday morning and agreed to testify against her ex-husband, former JSO Officer William Baer.

Melissa Schafer pleaded guilty Friday morning and agreed to testify against her ex-husband, former JSO Officer William Baer.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than two decades after convenience store owner Saad Kawaf was killed, the former wife of a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office detective at the time pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and four other violent crimes connected to his death.

Melissa Schafer and her then-husband, JSO Officer William Baer, were linked to the killing through DNA evidence found under Kawaf’s fingernails and blood found at the crime scene.

Police said Schafer and Baer robbed Kawaf and his wife because they had over $50,000.

In court Friday, Schafer became emotional as she admitted to assisting in the murder and agreed to testify truthfully in future prosecutions. Baer has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

In addition to murder, Shafer admitted to kidnapping, armed robbery, armed burglary with assault or battery and aggravated battery. Under sentencing guidelines, Schafer could face 31 years to life in prison for her crimes, but under the sentencing agreement she signed, the court could deviate from those guidelines.

Baer, 64, and Schafer were arrested separately in early July. Schafer, 51, was initially jailed in Missouri and extradited to Duval County to face charges.

Kawaf, who was 39 and owned Forest Discount Store, was killed during a robbery in May 1999. According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, DNA evidence collected from the attack later pointed to Baer and Schafer, who were married at the time of the attack.

Police said Kawaf was getting ready to leave his home when he was ambushed by a man and woman in his garage and stabbed by the man. Kawaf’s wife got into a physical altercation with the woman, but she forced back into the home and threatened with a knife by the man.

The attackers said they knew Kawaf had not yet made the weekly deposit at the bank and they wanted the cash. Eventually, the wife told them where they could find $30,000 in the kitchen cabinets.

Police said they took the money, taped her to a chair and ran off. Kawaf did not survive his stabbing injuries.

Baer was with the Sheriff’s Office for 27 years, joining in 1975 and retiring in 2002. At the time of the murder, Baer had been an intelligence division detective and knew Kawaf through work, JSO said.

Baer’s attorneys have filed a motion asking for their client to be granted bail saying his life is in danger inside the jail due to the coronavirus. They say underlying health issues put him at risk of complications if he contracts the virus, which has infected hundreds of inmates.