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Cold-case murder suspect interview partially released in 1999 death investigation

Melissa Jo Schafer, accused in the 1999 stabbing death of Saad Kawaf, appears to show her breaking down.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A key interview in a decades-old cold case was released -- in part -- by Jacksonville prosecutors Thursday.

Melissa Jo Schafer was interrogated by police detectives investigating the 1999 cold case killing of a Jacksonville convenience store owner. She’s accused, along with her ex-husband, in the stabbing death of Saad Kawaf.

Schafer's ex-husband is former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office homicide detective William "Billy" Baer. The two are accused of murdering Kawaf and duct-taping his wife to a chair before stealing $30,000 hidden in a kitchen cabinet. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The case went cold for decades, but prosecutors say DNA from the scene linked Shaffer to the crime via genetic genealogy.

During the interrogation, detectives press Schafer about her time with Baer -- the second of her four husbands -- and the couple’s financial situation.

"With his divorce, he was needing money?" the detective asks. "Right," Schafer says. "And those aren't cheap?" the detective asks. "Yeah nope," Schafer replies. "He has to pay her alimony and they still had and two kids at the time, so he still paid on that as well."

"Was that stressful during your relationship?" the detective asks. "He didn't really talk about it but it was a little bit," she answers.

At another point in the interview, when asked if theirs was a happy marriage, Schafer says, "The first five  [years] were OK. The last five were not so OK."

The full audio has not been released, but a portion of the later video appears to show the 51-year-old growing distraught, shaking and at one point, laying her forehead down on the desk for several minutes.

The State Attorney’s Office will release the full audio recording at a later date.