Retired Atlanta Police Department detectives Vince Velazquez and David Quinn return to the TVOne true-crime show "ATL Homicide" for a second season.
Photo: TVOne
Photo: TVOne

How the AJC covered the Mark Schaller murder from "ATL Homicide"

The TVOne true-crime show "ATL Homicide" featured the 2002 killing of Mark Schaller, found dead of strangulation at his northeast Atlanta home. Howard M. Belcher emerged as the chief suspect in that murder, plus two others in metro Atlanta. Authorities said at the time that all three victims were killed after being seen leaving the Bulldogs club in Midtown with Belcher. Belcher is currently serving a life sentence for one of the murders.

» THE LIST: Georgia crime cases featured on true-crime shows and podcasts 

» MORE: Georgia's most notorious serial killers 

The TVOne true-crime series, now in its second season, recreates cases as told by David Quinn and Vince Velazquez, two retired Atlanta Police Department homicide detectives. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covered the initial investigation into Belcher in 2002 and the beginning of the murder trial in 2005 involving Schaller's death. You can find highlights of those articles below. You can find the AJC's coverage of other "ATL Homicide" cases here


From Nov. 14, 2002: 

Man arrested in theft suspected in 3 killings 

Kidnapping case may be linked, too 

A man arrested two weeks ago on a theft charge is a suspect in at least three murders and a kidnapping in metro Atlanta. 

Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington said Tuesday that 25-year-old Howard M. Belcher is the chief suspect in the Oct. 10 deaths of Matthew Abney, 45, of Dallas, Ga., and Mark Schaller, 40, of Atlanta. ...

Read the full article here.


Howard Belcher mugshots from 2000, 2002 and 2004. Belcher was convicted for two murders. Police believe he met his victims in a gay bar in Midtown. (DeKalb and Fulton Sheriffs' Departments)
Photo: DeKalb and Fulton Sheriffs' Depa/Fulton County Sheriff's Dept.

From Dec. 19, 2002: 

Death still mystifies detectives 

...Howard Belcher, 25, was arrested Oct. 30 in College Park while driving McKinney's 1994 Lexus. 

Belcher has since been charged with murder in the strangulation death of a man in Atlanta and in the death of a Paulding County man, authorities said. Cause of death has not been determined in the Paulding death, which also occurred at the victim's home, police said. ...

Read the full article here.


From June 30, 2004: 

LAW & ORDER BRIEFS | Bar may link killings 

A man sentenced Tuesday to life plus 20 years in the October 2002 death of a Paulding County man may be linked to the slayings of at least two other metro men, officials say. 

Howard Milton Belcher, 25, was convicted June 22 in the murder and robbery of Matthew Abney, an assistant manager at a Wal-Mart, said Paulding District Attorney James Osborne.

Belcher strangled the 45-year-old Abney and robbed him of his wallet and jewelry after the two left an Atlanta bar, Osborne said. 

During Belcher's six-day trial a judge allowed prosecutors to present evidence in the slaying of Fulton resident Mark Schaller, Osborne said. 

Schaller, 40, was found strangled in his northeast Atlanta home about five days before Abney's death, Osborne said. 

Belcher also is a suspect in the death of a Gwinnett County man, said Osborne. 

All three were killed after being seen leaving the Bulldogs club in Atlanta with Belcher, Osborne said. Each died during the three-week period before Abney's death and shortly after Belcher was released after serving a two-year prison sentence for theft. 


From Nov. 10, 2004: 

Killer indicted on new murder charge 

... Howard Belcher, 26, is already in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of an assistant manager at a Wal-Mart in Paulding County. He is serving a life sentence plus 20 years for tying up Matthew Abney, 45, and strangling him Oct. 10, 2002. 

Tuesday's grand jury indictment charges Belcher with murder in the Oct. 5, 2002, death of Atlanta businessman Mark Schaller, 40, who was beaten and strangled in his upscale condo on Dutch Valley Road. ...

Read the full article here.


From Jan. 11, 2005: 

Fulton pursues death for Midtown bar killer 

Fulton County prosecutors and murder defendant Howard Milton Belcher — by his own remarks in court — agree he should get the death penalty. 

Belcher, 26, is serving life plus 20 years for a murder in Paulding County. Monday it became Fulton County's turn to try him for murder. ...

Read the full article here.


» MORE: Read the AJC's coverage of the cases in "ATL Homicide" Season 1 

» RELATED: How the AJC covered the events in "The First 48 Presents: Homicide Squad Atlanta" 

» THE LIST: Georgia crime cases featured on true-crime shows and podcasts 

» RELATED: Who are Georgia's most notorious serial killers?

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