Arrest made in 2003 murder of German woman

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SARASOTA COUNTY - The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest in the 2003 murder of Anneliese Schweickardt.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the victim was a German citizen who lived in the United States on a Tourist Visa. She had no immediate family in this country, but kept routine contact with a childhood friend in Germany. She also traveled annually as required to maintain her Tourist Visa status.

This investigation began as a missing person’s case in October 2003, when a friend reported that she stopped receiving regular contact from Ms. Schweickardt back in April. Schweickardt was in the process of evicting John Alan Mellquist, who rented a room in her Sarasota home. When initially contacted, Mellquist gave different accounts of her possible whereabouts. It was later learned that he forged and cashed checks from her bank account and used her vehicle after she had disappeared.

Detectives and Forensic Technicians conducted an exhaustive search of the victim’s home in 2003. Discovered during the search were signs of a violent encounter inside the home, including significant blood stain evidence that indicate she was likely murdered. These discoveries coupled with what detectives believe are lies during their questioning of Mellquist led them to suspect that he had killed her.

In addition, a comprehensive search of the area near the victim’s home was conducted in 2003. Despite those efforts, the victim’s body has never been found. Absent the body and no immediate family such as children, it has taken years for investigators to build a DNA profile of the victim from personal items left in the residence and put the case together. Advancement in DNA testing and the capabilities of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) lab have led detectives to this point in the investigation.

Though DNA testing continues, the warrant confirmed there was sufficient evidence to arrest Mellquist now. Sheriff’s detectives conferred with the State Attorney’s Office throughout this investigation and prosecutors agreed with the timing of the arrest and are preparing for the prosecution of Mellquist for the murder of Anneliese Schweickardt.

Detectives have kept track of Mellquist over the years and located him living in a tent in a wooded area near Ortiz Boulevard and U.S. 41 in Warm Mineral Springs. He was arrested Friday and is being held without bond.