April 24, 2023 | By: Judd Barczak
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and the University of North Florida’s Applied Journalism class.
Brian Keith Schuch Sr. was born on the 13th of January 1964 in Salina, Kansas, before moving to Tampa in 1974. The youngest of five children, Brian was always a prankster at heart with a love for fishing and machinery.
“Brian was my baby; he was my last and he gave the least trouble. He was just always a good kid. He would always help with stuff and loved his family.” Said Barbara Schuch, Brian’s Mother.
Married to Lauren Schuch, with whom he had four children, Schuch was “happy, loyal, full of love, and honest to a fault,” his wife said. Brian and Lauren had three children of their own and raised their niece as a part of their family.
Schuch was a locksmith by trade and worked for Hardware Suppliers of America. His wife remembers him always working on a new project and how he liked to keep his hands busy. One day she came home to find that Brian had taken apart their car’s carburetor in the middle of their living room just to put it back together, saying that “it wasn’t working right so I thought I would fix it up.”
His skills as a handyman also followed him into his relationship with his children, where every Christmas he would handmake wooden reindeer for each of his family members while his wife would paint them as gifts.
A few weeks before his homicide, Brian went up to the store to get gas. When he didn’t arrive home in a timely manner Lauren, his wife questioned him. She stated, “Brian said a guy at the gas station needed help with some gas money and a ride”. Brian had never met this guy, he just wanted to pay it forward all the time.
Schuch’s family believes that his generous nature is likely what led to his untimely death.
Schuch was found dead on July 21, 1994, missing his wallet, keys, and his pickup truck.
“He didn’t believe that there was a bad person in the world,” his father said — and the family believes he probably gave a ride home from a bar and was then attacked.
The aftermath for the Schuch family was intense.
“It was impossible for us to wrap our minds around,” Lauren Schuch said. “It was shocking that someone who was nothing but kind and friendly could have something like this happen to him,” while his family “felt caught between their lives falling apart and their hearts breaking, the whole time not knowing which way to go.”
Lauren likes to focus more on the positive memories that she has of her late husband. She tells the story of how she first met Brian when she was only 15. She recounted how she borrowed Brian’s car to take a friend home from a party, while Brian was asleep. When she returned, Brian was waiting for her and said that he usually would have called the police, but for her, all he wanted was for her company while he fixed the car. From that point forward they were inseparable.
“His family and children always came first. He was a wonderful father.” Barbara, Brian’s Mother stated “We used to tease him and call him Mr. Mom. He never went anywhere without his children. If you needed something he would be there, if he had any fault, it was he was too friendly.”
Nearly 30 years after his death, Brian Schuch’s family still feels the ripples of his absence. His wife never remarried, and his youngest daughter, now 29, mentioning how she never got to get to know her father. Despite all of this, and despite all the hardships that this incident has brought, one common stance from those who knew him rings clear.
“Brian was the most amazing person you could ever meet. He never knew a stranger, and loved everyone he met, and we’re grateful for every moment we got to spend with him,” Lauren said.
Project: Cold Case spoke with a Detective with the Tampa Police Department for a comment on Brian’s Spotlight article Detective stated, “Victim’s and their families come first, that’s who we work for and why we do this job. We are constantly trying to serve our community”.
Project: Cold Case asked the Detective if he had any recommendations for other families managing their loved ones Cold Case, he stated, “Keep their loved ones in the Spotlight, doing Awareness projects like this and keeping their loved one’s case out in the public”.
The Detective encouraged the community to provide any tips or information regarding Brian’s Case to Tampa police department.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Brian Schuch, please call the Tampa Police Department at (813) 276-3200. To remain anonymous and possibly receive a reward, call Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at (800) 873-TIPS or dial **TIPS from your mobile device.
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