"48 HOURS" INVESTIGATES THE MURDER OF A BELOVED FLORIDA DOCTOR WITH A SECRET, DARK PAST IN "THE STRANGE LIFE OF DR. SCHWARTZ"
Saturday, Feb. 11 - 10:00 PM ET/PT
Dr. Steven Schwartz was a beloved Florida physician who ended up dead in his Tarpon Springs mansion. Was it a random killing, a botched robbery or something more sinister?
Peter Van Sant and 48 HOURS investigate the brutal murder of Schwartz, and his secret, dark past, in "The Strange Life of Dr. Schwartz" to be broadcast Saturday, Feb. 11 (10:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Schwartz and his second wife, Rebecca, seemingly lived the good life. He was a wealthy, well-respected kidney specialist, and together they had a successful real estate venture. But everything changed when on the evening of May 14, 2014, Mrs. Schwartz dialed 9-1-1 to report her home had been robbed. When police arrived and began checking out the crime scene they found Schwartz dead. He'd been shot, stabbed and beaten.
The investigation into what happened would uncover a family with strained relationships, competing allegations on what may have happened and a whole secret life that Schwartz had hidden from his offspring.
"Dad was a role model to me," says son Carter Schwartz, who is studying to be a doctor and was interviewed by police. "I said to them, 'Please, do not overlook anyone in this family just because they're related,'" Schwartz recalls of his talk with investigators.
A year after the murder, police arrested Leo Anton Stragaj, a builder, who worked on the family's nearly 40 properties. Police had found Stragaj's DNA on Schwartz's body. Stragaj admitted seeing Schwartz's body that day and not calling police. He fled the scene, he says, because he was an immigrant and didn't want to do anything to jeopardize his record.
"I didn't do it. I did not kill the man. I didn't commit the murder. I was set up," Stragaj tells Van Sant in an extensive jailhouse interview. Instead, he tells 48 HOURS, Schwartz's wife had something to do with the murder.
"Rebecca Schwartz," Stragaj tells Van Sant. "Because she asked me to find someone to kill Dr. Schwartz."
Rebecca Schwartz declined to be interviewed by 48 HOURS. However, her attorneys say their client is innocent and allege Stragaj is using Schwartz to deflect from his own guilt.
So what really happened to Dr. Steven Schwartz? And did something that occurred 50 years in the past have something to do with the murder? After his death, reports surfaced in the local Tampa media about Schwartz killing a dentist in 1961, in a botched robbery attempt in Hobbs, New Mexico. Schwartz spent nine years in prison before his sentence was commuted. Did that murder play a role in the doctor's own demise?
"The only one that can really answer that question is Dr. Schwartz himself," says Wil Florin, an attorney representing Carter Schwartz and his siblings in a civil suit to get access to their father's fortune.
48 HOURS: "The Strange Life of Dr. Schwartz" is produced by Alec Sirken, Ryan Smith and Michelle Feuer. David Spungen, Grace Arlotta-Berner and Ken Blum are the editors. Anthony Batson is the senior broadcast producer. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.
"The Strange Life of Dr. Schwartz" is the second part of a Saturday night double feature. At 9:00 PM, Erin Moriarty and 48 HOURS deliver the first in-depth look at an unprecedented interview infamous millionaire and alleged killer Robert Durst gave to the prosecutor looking to put him in prison in "Murder in Beverly Hills."
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