Born in 1960, Larissa Schuster grew up on a farm in Clarance, Missouri. She went on to study biochemistry and work in a local nursing home. It was here that she met her future husband, Timothy Schuster, who was a student at nursing school. In 1982, the couple married and went on to have two children, Kristin and Tyler. Following the birth of their children, they moved to Fresno, California and then on to Clovis, California. They were able to move to the prosperous Clovis as Larissa had a well-paying career in the laboratory business. She eventually opened her own laboratory while Tim worked as an administrator at a medical center.
However, everything wasn’t as idyllic as it appeared on the surface and by 2002, the couple were planning on getting a divorce. Larissa often complained about Tim’s incompetence and had an affair while at a conference in Chicago.
During the separation, both of them fought for custody of their children and the fought over the difference of opinion in regards to the belongings and home. Eventually, Larissa was granted both custody and the home. Tim moved out of the family abode and into a condominium.
Things turned sour.
Months after the big move, Larissa broke into Tim’s condominium to steal some belongings she believed to be hers. In fact, she bragged to her manicurist that she had their son steal belongings from Tim’s condominium because her son “would do anything for her.”
Larissa soon started leaving threatening and abusive voice mails on his phone, all of which he saved.
“You rotten faggot – that is what you are. You are such a wimp, you have no spine. I hope to God you burn in hell one of these days, and you will,” she bellowed down the line.
In another rage-induced phone call, Larissa shouted into the phone receiver: “I’ll tell you what, this is going to come back to haunt you. You talk about me alienating your kids, you’re doing a damn good job yourself. And you just wait, it’s coming, sweetheart.” 1
Fearing for his life, Tim purchased a handgun.
On the 10th of July, 2003, Tim was scheduled to meet a friend for breakfast. However, he never showed up. Later on in the same afternoon, he was supposed to pick his son up from Larissa but again, he didn’t show up.
When it became evident that Tim was missing, Larissa was brought in for questioning but was extremely nonchalant. Despite the fact that Tim was missing, Larissa took her son on vacation to San Antonio, Missouri, and Disney World while in the midst of the investigation. One of Larissa’s employees, James Fagone, was also brought in for questioning. While he initially denied any involvement in Tim’s disappearance, he soon changed his tune and was much more forthcoming.
During his interrogation, James confessed that he and Larissa had murdered Tim and that he only participated because Larissa had offered him money to do so. He confessed that on the 9th of July, Larissa persuaded Tim to open his front door by pretending that their son was ill. When he opened the door, she rendered him immobile with a stun gun and a chloroform soaked rag and drove him to her house. 1
What happened next is deplorable. The two scientists then bound his feet and hands with plastic zip ties and shoved the still breathing Tim head first into a barrel which they filled with hydrochloric acid. He was still “flopping and making noises” as acid was poured over his body. James said that the fumes were so strong that it was “burning my lungs.”
When she couldn’t seal the lid, Larissa used a handsaw to cut off her husband’s feet.
After the confession, police were directed to the storage unit containing the grim barrel. Larissa’s vacation was cut short and she was arrested in a St. Louis airport. Larissa ultimately became known as the “Acid Lady.” It was believed that she killed Tim because she would have gained more from her husband’s death than divorcing him. The couple had signed a living trust plan in 1999 which stated that if Timothy died before Larissa then she would inherit his retirement savings, collect his life insurance and receive half of their shared assets. 2
Larissa was portrayed as a cruel and domineering wife. Several witnesses came forward to divulge her callous actions through their 19 year relationship. One witness was Larissa’s manicurist, Terri Lopez, who revealed that Larissa had often expressed her desire that Tim was dead.
Terri also knew Tim and shortly before his death, he chillingly told her: “You know that if anything happens to me, it won’t be an accident. You know what she’s capable of. Take care.” That was the last time she ever spoke to Tim.
James and Larissa were both sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
During the trial, Larissa and Tim’s daughter, Kristen, took to the stand and stared her evil mother straight in the eyes: “You’ve given up all rights as a mother, wife, daughter, friend and woman. You’re a disgrace to this family – a pitiful excuse for a human. I pray you’re continually haunted at night by the sight and sound of my father fighting for his last breathing moments on earth,” she said.3
If Kristen got her way, her mother would have been sentenced to death.