“Follow the Fingerprints”: ’20/20′ Reports on Leo Schofield Case June 7 2024

On June 7, 2024, ABC’s “20/20” will present “Follow the Fingerprints,” a compelling episode from 9:01 to 11:00 p.m. EDT. This two-hour special offers an in-depth look at the case of Leo Schofield, who was imprisoned for over 30 years for a crime he claims he did not commit. The episode promises to unravel the layers of Schofield’s legal ordeal through detailed documentation and interviews with pivotal figures involved in the case.

This episode not only revisits the tragic murder of Leo’s wife, Michelle Schofield, but also highlights the significant new evidence that emerged over the years, which points to his potential innocence. Audiences will gain insight into the dramatic turns that this case has taken, from the initial conviction to the recent developments that led to Schofield’s release on parole.

The Crime and Initial Conviction

In February 1987, Michelle Schofield was found dead in a drainage canal in Lakeland, Florida, having been stabbed multiple times. The investigation quickly centered on her husband, Leo Schofield, who reported her missing and was actively searching for her at the time. Despite his assertions of innocence and lack of direct physical evidence linking him to the murder, Leo was convicted in 1989. The prosecution built its case on testimonies from witnesses who portrayed Schofield as a volatile individual prone to arguments with his wife.

The conviction was largely based on circumstantial evidence and the testimonies of neighbors who claimed to have seen Schofield in suspicious circumstances around the time of Michelle’s disappearance. This led to a conviction that would begin a long, painful saga of incarceration for Leo Schofield, despite persistent doubts about the validity of the evidence against him.

The Legal Battle for Justice

For years, Leo Schofield’s conviction was repeatedly upheld, despite numerous appeals and growing evidence suggesting his innocence. The Innocence Project of Florida took an active role in his defense, working tirelessly to challenge the conviction based on new insights and discrepancies in the case. Their efforts were crucial in bringing national attention to the inconsistencies and potential miscarriage of justice that Leo faced.

A significant breakthrough came with the discovery of fingerprints on Michelle Schofield’s abandoned car, which were not initially identified. In 2004, these fingerprints were matched to Jeremy Scott, a convicted felon who later confessed to the murder. This key piece of evidence introduced a pivotal turn in the case, prompting renewed legal challenges and calls for Schofield’s exoneration.

Breakthrough and Release on Parole

Despite the confession by Jeremy Scott and the matching fingerprints, the path to freedom for Leo Schofield was fraught with legal obstacles. It was not until April 2024, after extensive media coverage and public outcry catalyzed by the “Bone Valley” podcast, that significant progress was made. The podcast, which detailed the case and the subsequent legal battles, played a crucial role in shaping public perception and increasing pressure on judicial authorities to reconsider Schofield’s case.

Finally, after more than three decades behind bars, Leo Schofield was granted parole. The decision by the State’s Commission on Offender Review marked a critical yet incomplete victory in his long fight for justice. While parole represented a significant step towards freedom, it came with stringent conditions, reflecting the ongoing complexities of his legal status despite the evidence supporting his innocence.

Reflections and Continuing Challenges

Leo Schofield’s release on parole does not end his journey toward clearing his name fully. He and his legal team, along with his supporters, continue to advocate for full exoneration. The conditions of his parole and the lingering doubts about his involvement in the crime underscore the challenges still faced by those seeking justice in complex legal cases.

The emotional toll on Schofield and his family has been immense. Throughout the ordeal, they have demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination. The “20/20” episode poignantly captures this human aspect, offering viewers a deeper understanding of the personal impact of wrongful convictions. Through interviews and personal stories, the episode paints a vivid picture of the enduring fight for justice and the hope that continues to drive Leo Schofield and his loved ones.


“Follow the Fingerprints” is set to be an emotionally charged and thought-provoking episode of “20/20.” It not only explores the details of Leo Schofield’s legal battle but also addresses broader themes of justice, resilience, and the quest for truth within the American legal system. This episode provides viewers with a comprehensive look at a case that has evolved dramatically over the decades, highlighting both the failures and the potential for redemption within the judicial process. As Schofield continues his fight for exoneration, his story remains a poignant reminder of the complexities and imperatives of seeking justice in a flawed system.

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Ryan Gill

Ryan is a passionate follower of true crime television programs, reporting on and providing in-depth investigations on mysteries in the criminal world.

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