In Stanislaus County Superior Court action earlier this month, William Thomas Schendel, 58, of Modesto, was sentenced to serve 16 years to life in state prison. Stanislaus County Deputy District Attorney Samuel Luzadas prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. Schendel previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Oakdale resident Aimee Crawford.
On May 1, 2018, family members were trying to locate 40-year-old Aimee Crawford after not hearing from her. They tried to locate Crawford’s cellphone using a phone app. They located it inside the car of Crawford’s boyfriend, William Schendel, at a tow yard in Escalon. Schendel had been involved in a head-on traffic collision in Escalon, about 18 miles from the murder scene. He suffered major injuries and had to be extricated from the car for transportation to the hospital.
EMS notified the family that only one person, Schendel, was in the vehicle involved in the crash. Hearing this, the family returned to Crawford’s house on Horseshoe Road in Oakdale. Upon entry, one family member found Crawford, fully clothed, lying dead in several inches of water in the shower. Other evidence at the scene suggested a violent struggle had occurred and the victim had been struck several times with a metal object.
On May 3, Schendel was arrested in the hospital. He refused to answer any questions. Upon his release from the hospital on May 23, 2018, he was booked into the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center and subsequently charged with murder. Detective Michael Fisher was instrumental in gathering all the necessary evidence to support prosecution.
On Sept. 24, 2021 before Judge Dawna Reeves, Schendel pled guilty to second-degree murder and admitted an enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon.
At a sentencing hearing on Dec. 6, 2021 surviving family members submitted written victim impact statements to the court about how losing their loved one impacted their lives. At the conclusion of the hearing, Reeves sentenced Schendel to 15 years to life in state prison for the murder and an additional one year in state prison for personally using a deadly weapon during the killing.