VIRGINIA BEACH — More than 25 years after the body of a Virginia Beach teenager was found in a supermarket dumpster, jurors will be asked to decide whether it was the Navy man who lived across the street from her who sexually assaulted and killed her.
Robert William Malick, whose trial begins today, was 22 and serving as a petty officer second class when Joan Schoppaul's body was found Dec. 5, 1990. It had been wrapped in a sleeping bag and trash bags and left in a dumpster behind a Food Lion on Baxter Road.
The 17-year-old's family told police that they last saw her the day before.
In December 2014, Virginia Beach police announced that cold-case detectives had linked Malick to her killing. Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle later revealed that Malick's bloody fingerprint had been found on one of the trash bags.
Malick, now 48, was living in Erie, Pa., with his wife and a son with cerebral palsy when he was arrested. He was a stay-at-home dad and the primary caregiver for the boy, according to testimony his wife offered at a bond hearing in January 2015.
He was extradited to Virginia and is being held without bond in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center on charges of second-degree murder, rape and forcible sodomy.
When he was first questioned by detectives, Malick told them he had only seen the girl in passing, Stolle said at the bond hearing.
Later, Malick told them that they had sex the night she disappeared, Stolle said. He stopped talking to police when he was confronted with the fingerprint evidence, then top prosecutor said.
According to Navy records, Malick had served on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and left the ship in August 1990. He was stationed in Virginia Beach until 1994. He left the military as a petty officer second class in 1998.
The trial is expected to last six days.