The Des Moines Register, Saturday, April 4, 1998, Page 2M

Killer's confession: 'Then I just did it'


    During his initial confession, Christopher Kauffman casualy described two brutal murders as though he were discussing the weather.
    "Basically I just sat there awhile, and then I just did it," Kauffman, 19, explained in monotone to an agent from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.  He then described how his first shot hit Barbara Garber squarely in the temple.
    Asked how he felt about killing the 52-year-old grandmother, Kauffman shrugged and said, "Well, I felt kind of guilty about the whole thing, but I mean, really, it's just, to me, all I had to do was just pull the trigger.  That's all there was."
    The confession videotape was recorded last June, when two Oskaloosa-area stepbrothers - Kauffman and Jamie McMahan, 23 - were captured in Florida after a nationwide search.

Tape Released Friday
   The tape was released Friday, now that both men have been sentenced in state and federal courts and are serving life prison terms.
    Kauffman told authorities he was willing to confess only because his older stepbrother planned to identify Kauffman as the trigger man in both June 11 murders.   Kauffman adamantly denied shooting Island Schultz, an 18-year-old who had graduated from high school just weeks before.
    "I talked to my brother and he told me to take (blame for) both murders and I can't do that," said Kauffman, then a gaunt teen-ager strung out from weeks of hard drug use.  Authorities later determined that McMahan shot Schultz, and he has admitted that in court.
    On the tape, Kauffman described taking methamphetamine, or "crank," in the days leading up to the crimes - which included armed bank robbery - and not sleeping or eating for nearly a week.

Wasn't Planned
   Throughout the 95-minute interview, Kauffman insisted the crime spree hadn't been well-planned.  "We basically did it off the top of our heads," he said.
    Kauffman told agent John Quinn that the wornen were killed to eliminate potential witnesses.
    Kauffman said shooting Garber set the tone for the day.
    "I think (Jamie,) tested me to see if I'd do it first, and then after I did, he felt OK with it," Kauffman said.
    Asked whether he would do it all again, Kauffman said, "Probably not the exact same thing.  I wouldn't go killing nobody."
    Questioned about two teen-age girls who accompanied the men on a trip to Florida after the crimes, Kauffman said the girls weren't involved and wanted to return home after learning what had happened, back in Iowa.

Requested Analysis
   At the end of the conversation, Kauffman requested a psychiatric analysis.
    "I know I'm going to prison," he said.  "And, see, when I do, I know at some point in time - I mean, plain and simple - I might kill somebody in prison.  Because I know if prison's anything like people tell me what it is, people are going to mess with me, then, I mean, I'll get someone while they're sleeping."
    Kauffman and McMahan each have been sentenced to five life, prison terms after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, carjacking and armed bank robbery.   They agreed to plead guilty on the condition that federal prosecutors not seek the death penalty.

Reporter Kirsten Scharnberg can be
reached at or
(515) 284-8449.

The Des Moines Register
Saturday, April 4, 1998, Page 2M