ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — A suspect accused of killing a woman in Adams County about a week before he was due to report to jail for a sexual assault case was in court on Friday afternoon for his preliminary hearing.
Jacob "Jake" Daniel Schadler, 26, was arrested in July on charges of first-degree murder after deliberation, motor vehicle theft, driving under the influence, two counts of criminal mischief and theft in connection with the death of Dominica Jacklyn Quesada, 26, in July.
Preliminary hearings are not trials. The parties can present information for the judge to decide if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. At the end of the hearing Friday afternoon, District Court Judge Kyle Seedorf announced that there was enough evidence presented to bring the case to trial.
Colorado homicide suspect was days away from serving jail time in separate case
The prosecutors called up one witness: Det. Tara Scully of the Adams County Sheriff's Office. The defense did not call any witnesses.
During Scully's testimony in both the people's examination and defense's cross-examination, she described the scene she investigated and what led to Schadler's arrest. She's been in her current position for three years and is the lead detective on this case.
Scully recalled that on July 27 around 4 a.m., she responded to the 15000 block of Iola Street in unincorporated Adams County for a possible homicide investigation.
At the scene, she identified the homeowners, one of whom is Schadler's grandfather, who is married. It was not clear from the hearing if his wife is Schadler's biological grandmother.
The grandfather told Scully he had called 911 after he found a deceased person on a couch in the office of their home, where Schadler often watches TV. The grandmother also said her car, bill fold and keys were missing, and some items she had in her car were strewn around the driveway. A Ring camera in the neighborhood captured vehicle movement in their driveway between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., though it was too dark to identify the driver.
A Be On the Lookout, or BOLO, alert was issued for the car.
The grandfather confirmed that he lived at the home with his wife, Schadler and Schadler's brother, who had previously dated Quesada.
The grandparents confirmed that on July 26 around 11:30 p.m., just before saying goodnight, they saw Schadler and Quesada talking to each other in a normal tone in the home. The grandparents told Scully that Schadler and Quesada seemed fine and they had not heard any arguing or seen anything concerning, Scully recalled.
Schadler and Quesada were friends, to Scully's knowledge, and were going to watch movies and drink together. They had arrived at the house together between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Around 3 a.m., the grandmother got up and walked around the house. She said she saw five TVs had been damaged and one had a hammer embedded in it. She went back to the bedroom and told her husband that she thought there was a dead person in the house, which is when the grandfather found the body and called 911, Scully said.
When authorities, including Scully, arrived, they saw that a jaw bone — possibly from a shark — had been placed on the body, along with a tape measure. The room also had multiple notes written in pink highlighter. One, which read "Remember" was placed near Quesada's keys on top of her body, Scully said.
Scully confirmed there were no other witnesses or video or audio recordings showing what happened to Quesada, and the home did not have evidence of forced entry.
Aside from two hammers recovered from the scene, Scully said she did not find any other potential weapons at the house. She said she did not know the defendant's motive for destroying the TVs with what she assumed was the hammers.
In addition, she said she did not know any reason why the defendant would want to hurt Quesada, but the grandfather told her that he believed his grandson had committed the crime. He also mentioned that he believed Schadler has bipolar disorder and possibly other mental health struggles, Scully said.
Scully said both grandparents also admitted that they have difficulty hearing.
She said as the investigation continued at the home, officers with the Castle Rock Police Department responded to a crash where a male driver had fled on foot. A supervisor who was leaving a substation for the police department happened to see the driver and when confronted, the driver confirmed his name was Jake Schadler. He was arrested on a charge of suspicion of DUI before the other charges related to the homicide were added, Scully said.
In the days after Quesada's death, a coroner confirmed that her cause of death was strangulation and the manner was homicide. Based on the injuries and recovered evidence, the coroner ruled that a hammer was involved in the attack.
Schadler is due in court on Jan. 12 at 1:30 p.m. for his arraignment.
Homicide suspect was days away from serving jail time in sexual assault case
When Schadler did not show up to jail in June for an unrelated case involving sexual assault, a judge set a new remand date for August. It was two days before he was expected in jail that he allegedly killed Quesada.
The assault case began in the fall of 2020. That October, Schadler was arrested on a charge of sexual assault, a Class 4 felony.
Shayna Duncan, who had reported the assault, told Denver7 she fought tooth and nail to have him face consequences for his actions. But for a variety of reasons, including the COVID-19 pandemic, every time Schadler got close to going to trial for the sexual assault case, an excuse came up and it was extended.
"He was too scared to show up for court and the court accepted it — they would push it off," Duncan said. "It was excruciating."
Colorado homicide suspect was days away from serving jail time in separate case
Then, on Feb. 15, 2023, the charge was dismissed and Schadler pleaded guilty to sexual contact with no consent, which is a misdemeanor, according to court documents. He was sentenced on May 11 to 18 months of supervised probation and one of the conditions included 45 days in jail to be served as work release. He was ordered to turn himself into the Adams County Jail by June 30.
Two days before he was due at jail, his defense filed a motion requesting a reconsideration of his sentence — specifically, to lower the jail sentence or let him serve it as in-home detention. The defense said Schadler's conviction prohibited him from participating in the work release program and he was "experiencing increased levels of anxiety," the documents read.
The next few days went by and he did not turn himself into the jail on June 30, according to the documents.
Prosecutors objected to the request for a sentence reconsideration in a July 13 document, saying they were concerned about the defendant's unwillingness to comply with the terms of his sentence, the documents read. They added that Schadler had not completed an intake appointment with the probation department, something that he claimed was the result of "various physical and mental health issues preventing him from starting probation," the documents read.
"The Defendant’s failure to start probation means the Defendant is in the community without any supervision and has been for over two months," the prosecution's documents read. "It also means the Defendant is engaging in no treatment."
Schadler was also told to register as a sex offender by May 16, which he completed on June 6, according to the prosecution's response. Because it was a misdemeanor offense, it was not posted on Adams County's website.
In a July 19 document, a Judge Seedorf denied the defendant's motion asking for a sentence reconsideration, writing in a document: "As the Court noted at the time of sentencing, Defendant did not indicate he understands the depth or scope of the harm he caused and did not demonstrate acceptance or accountability. Of additional concern, the Response notes Defendant has not complied with other terms of his sentence in the several weeks before he filed the Motion. Except for noting Defendant suffers from anxiety, Defendant has not countered these allegations."
Judge Seedorf set a new remand date, ordering Schadler to turn himself into the Adams County Jail by 5 p.m. on Aug. 2 for the 45-day sentence.
Six days before he was due in jail, he allegedly killed Quesada.
Duncan said she learned about the homicide while shopping at a Walgreens. The district attorney's office and a victim advocate called her to tell her what had happened.
“My heart dropped and I was like, 'What the hell? What is happening?'" Duncan remembered. "And she said, 'Jacob is being charged with a homicide charge.' And I said, 'He killed somebody?' And she said yes. And I said, 'Was it a woman?' And she said, 'Yeah.' And I broke down in the middle of the Walgreens aisle. That was really hard.”
While Duncan did not know Quesada personally, they had mutual friends.
"But my heart hurts for her, very much so," Duncan said.