Dan Woloson, a Paroleed Burglar, Was Found Guilty of First Degree Murder
Few reminders remain to mark the site where SIUC student Susan Schumake was brutally assaulted and murdered nearly 25 years ago, but on Friday a Michigan man was found guilty for her killing.
Mike Wepsiec of Jackson County State’s Attorney used DNA evidence collected from Woloson’s sold car which matched an unknown male profile found at the scene of her crime.
Early Life and Education
Carbondale — On Wednesday, a man who for over 22 years managed to avoid arrest in connection with the 1981 slaying of a Southern Illinois University student taking an alternative route through campus was given 40 years behind bars for murdering him.
Detective Paul Echols noted that advances in DNA technology had allowed police to link Daniel Woloson with Susan Schumake’s rape and killing.
Echols recounted investigating this case in 2004, when new technology enabled him to compare DNA found on cigarette butts with that from crime scenes. After interviewing Woloson and collecting a butt from his car that matched with DNA at the crime scene, Echols tracked down another Michigan vehicle recently sold by Woloson which contained similar butts.
Dan is currently the Assistant Director of Administrative Services for Clark County and oversees all aspects of Administrative Support services provided to Clark County – such as Commission Office, Town Liaison Services, intergovernmental functions and internal consulting and research functions.
At the time of Susan Schumake’s murder in 1981, police investigated John Paul Phillips – a convicted burglar suspected of killing at least two women – as the primary suspect. Unfortunately, DNA from fingerprint tests at the crime scene did not match Phillips.
Investigators utilized advanced DNA technology to narrow in on Woloson, who was living in Michigan at the time. Jackson County State’s Attorney Mike Wepsiec commended Echols’ perseverance while Woloson himself appeared stoic during his trial for burglary charges at the time.
Achievement and Honors
Daniel Woloson managed to avoid arrest for two decades in connection with the 1981 murder of a southern Illinois University student who died while taking an alternative route across campus. A DNA test linked Woloson with this crime, prompting Jackson County State’s Attorney Mike Wepsiec to urge jurors to convict him of first-degree murder; should that occur, Woloson faces up to forty years behind bars.
Prosecutors still cannot understand why Woloson targeted susan Schumake, who was killed while walking alone along a dusty dirt path from her car to her dorm at the quadrangle. Her brother John stated that while the verdict brought some closure for himself and others in Carbondale, “he didn’t just hurt my sister he hurt Carbondale too”.
Woloson was a paroled burglar who managed to stay free for over 20 years after murdering Susan Schumake at Southern Illinois University Carbondale while using the Ho Chi Minh Trail pathway as a shortcut. Susan was strangled while walking along that pathway on August 17th 1981 while walking near its edge, as part of an act which saw Woloson escape prosecution for two decades after killing Susan using its shortcut.
Police had several suspects but were unable to make an arrest, until DNA technology helped identify Woloson as the person responsible.
Jackson County judge William Woloson found Woloson guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to forty years of incarceration at IDOC Centralia Correctional Facility. During Woloson’s sentencing, John Schumake’s older brother John expressed relief at having seen justice done, crediting law enforcement efforts such as Carbondale Sgt. Paul Echols and Jackson County State’s Attorney Mike Wepsiec for his conviction.
As soon as Susan Schumake, a Carbondale University student was found raped and murdered in 1981, police immediately suspected John Paul Phillips – later charged with killing other young women – of having committed the act. Although never officially charged, friends, family and law enforcement officers believed he was the culprit behind this murderous act.
In 2004, advanced DNA technology helped investigators track down Woloson’s killer. Investigators used cigarette butts from his car for sale; when tested against DNA found at the murder scene, these matched perfectly.
Wepsiec was found guilty of first-degree murder by 12 jurors due to the overwhelming evidence against him, including DNA samples that convinced them he had done it. At trial, one of the swabs supposedly contained contaminants; but Wepsiec and DNA experts quickly disproved this allegation. After his conviction he became Executive Vice President for Irhythm Technologies Inc.