SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A convicted felon charged with killing a 75-year-old South Dakota hospice nurse so he could steal her car and drive to Washington, D.C., described the woman during a TV interview as “collateral damage” in what he envisioned as a scheme to kill President Barack Obama.
James McVay, 41, is charged with first-degree murder and burglary in the weekend stabbing death of Maybelle Schein. During a jailhouse interview with television station WKOW in Madison, where McVay was arrested Saturday, he said that Schein was “in my way and I removed her.”
“He did it just more or less as kind of a lark, I guess,” Schein’s brother, Ted Fetters, said Thursday. “He didn’t have to kill her. He could have stole her car, but he killed her because he was wanting to kill somebody.”
Court records in Madison show that McVay is being represented by the state public defender. A call to that office’s communication director was not immediately returned.
Schein’s niece found the woman dead with her throat cut in her Sioux Falls home Saturday. Police used the OnStar tracking service in Schein’s vehicle to locate McVay on Interstate 90 near Madison later that day and he was arrested after a brief chase. Fetters said his sister did not know McVay.
Released from prison two days earlier, McVay told authorities after his arrest that he planned to kill someone in Sioux Falls, steal their vehicle and drive to Washington, D.C. to attack Obama. A U.S. Secret Service spokesman confirmed Thursday that McVay has been on the agency’s radar since 2009.
McVay had been serving a five-year sentence with two years suspended for a 2006 grand theft conviction, combined with a concurrent sentence for a 2009 escape attempt. He had previously served time in Nebraska, but was returned to South Dakota and became eligible for parole on May 16, said Michael Winder, spokesman for the South Dakota Department of Corrections.
McVay was sent last Thursday to the prison’s community transition program, a minimum-security unit outside the prison’s perimeter fence. The next day, he took off.
“He didn’t go before the (parole) board,” Winder said. “It’s part of the new system of parole that was enacted back in 1996.”
During his jailhouse interview Wednesday, McVay told WKOW that he cooked up what he described as a presidential assassination plot while in solitary confinement in Sioux Falls, where he “sat with nothing but a radio and my own hallucinations.” He said he was angered by Obama’s economic policies and was “going to get him on the golf range.”
Secret Service agents interviewed McVay in Lincoln, Neb., in 2009 about allegedly threatening statements he made about “secret service protectees,” said Ed Donovan, an agency spokesman.
“There was a follow-up interview where he recanted those statements that had initially brought him to our attention,” Donovan said.
Asked for an assessment of how seriously the Secret Service viewed his threats, Donovan said the agency doesn’t publicly discuss that kind of information.
An extradition hearing for McVay is scheduled for Aug. 11 in Madison.