True Conviction on ID is investigating the brutal murder of Tracey Schoettlin, who was butchered to death and dumped under a bridge by Thomas “Tommy” Bradley.
On July 13, 1986, Tracey Schoettlin finished working a late night at a restaurant on Birmingham’s southside and set off for home. Tragically, this young woman, who was all set to start law school at Samford, was never seen alive again.
Tracey’s body was discovered approximately 24 hours later under a bridge near a Mountain Brook shopping center. There was blood on the curb above, indicating she may have been flung over the top.
She was naked except for a pair of knee-length leggings, and she had been severely battered, beaten, and stabbed multiple times, and she had been sexually mutilated.
The manner of her death led many to wonder if they had a twisted serial killer in their midst, and it spread fear throughout Birmingham’s southside.
The police didn’t have a whole lot to go on, but a witness came forward to say he had seen Tracey purchase two cans of motor oil at a late-night convenience store and that when she left, a man in a blue Datsun or Toyota had been watching her.
Tracey’s abandoned car was discovered a short distance away with the two cans of motor oil left lying nearby.
The cops theorized that Tracey’s killer had offered to help her with her car trouble and perhaps offered her a ride home. Unfortunately, he had then abducted and murdered the young waitress.
Tommy Bradley claimed he had ‘visions from God’
The investigators were still hampered by a lack of evidence and were unsure where to look next when a breakthrough occurred. Tommy Bradley presented himself at a police station and told the cops he was having “visions from God” about the killer.
Incredibly, Bradley told the investigators intimate details about how Tracey was killed, things that only the killer would know. On the pretense that he was having visions, he chillingly described the victim’s last moments alive.
At one point, he spoke about how the killer had burned Tracey’s driving license, information that only the killer could have known. During one of the interviews, Bradley suddenly stated he had to pray and then began speaking in tongues.
Bradley was obsessed with witchcraft and the devil, and his ex-wife would later testify that he craved sex with blond-haired, blue-eyed girls, just like Tracey.
A piece of glitter had been discovered embedded on Tracey’s leg, and this was connected back to Bradley, who used the same type of glitter in his witchcraft rituals.
The police weren’t buying his story about being a conduit for an unearthly power, and he was arrested and charged with capital murder.
Bradley’s lawyers tried to argue their client was insane, and he was subsequently diagnosed as schizophrenic, but a psychiatrist deemed him fit to stand trial. He was eventually found guilty and sent to prison for the rest of his life.
More from True Conviction
Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on True Conviction.
Carl Junior McCauley broke into the mobile home of Karen Ann Watson in Lake Alfred, Florida, and raped and stabbed her to death. It took 27 years before DNA evidence put McCauley behind bars where he belonged.
Larry Thomas Hite posed as an undercover detective and told Nancy Klinger she would be helping him uncover a black market baby ring. Unfortunately, this scumbag murdered the kind-hearted mother of three.
True Conviction airs at 11/10c on Investigation Discovery.