An Oregon woman claims her boyfriend admitted to killing Hawaii four year old Aleisia “Lacy” Wolsey Ruf in 1993. Tiffany Kaneko who lives in Medford Oregon contacted Codefore with her story in January of 2012. She claimed her boyfriend Todd Lee Schonlau told her that he was responsible for the death of a little girl in Kauai in 1993 (Aleisia “Lacy” Wolsey Ruf) and his brother Aaron was in prison for the murder. Kaneko said that when Schonlau first confessed to her she didn’t believe him, but after researching the murder on the internet she verified that the crime actually happened and that Todd’s brother was in prison for the murder. Kaneko contacted Codefore because when she googled Aaron and Todd Schonlau a Codefore published book, ‘Closed Eyes’ was listed.
Todd Lee Schonlau has a long arrest history in numerous states including Colorado where he grew up and in Oregon. Tiffany Kaneko also has and arrest history in Oregon. Most of her arrests are alcohol related.
Valerie Soto who is Kaneko’s friend said that when Kaneko questioned Schonlau further about the murder, she became enraged and assaulted Schonlau because Kaneko had a small child living with her. Police arrested Kaneko for the assault on Schonlau but was released without formal charges.
Kaneko and Soto provided Codefore with details about the murder as told to Kaneko by Todd Schonlau. Some of these details are not released in this article because they would be known only by the person who murdered Ruf and the Kauai police.
Kaneko said that Todd told her that his brother Aaron had sexually assaulted Lacy in Hawaii .Todd told Kaneko that he asked his brother where the assault had occurred and he returned to the site. He told her that he located the body and dragged Lacy’s body into the ocean but it surfaced even though he had used rocks to add weight . Todd said that he swam out to the body, retrieved it and the this time used items he found that were heavier to weight the body. He said this was successful. He told Kaneko that he pulled he body into deep water so that the “sharks would eat her.” Todd said that he did not know until later that Lacy was still alive when he disposed of her. She said he told her that since she was alive when he placed her in the ocean, it was he not his brother that had killed her because her cause of death was drowning.
Although the murder investigation of Lacy Ruf is closed, Kauai police Detective Roy Asher would neither confirm nor deny any of the information provided by Codefore. Asher said that his police chief would not authorize the release of any information on the case. He advised Codefore to “contact the news media.” Codefore forwarded a summary of the information contained in this article to him. There has been no follow up communication.
News accounts, legal documents and interviews conducted with Todd and Aaron Schonlau revealed the following information.
On July 27th, 1993 Aleisia (Lacy) and her parents were camping on Anini beach in Kauai. It was late afternoon. Little Lacy had a dog and was playing with it on the beach. It was the last time her parents saw her alive. The facts of Lacy’s adventure with her dog are gut wrenching but the events are not clear. Lacy was missing and could not be found. The police were notified and a search of the area was conducted. They could not find Lacy.
A witness was contacted who reported seeing a young man wearing a tee shirt with graphics on it and was carrying what the witness described as “something that looked like a body wrapped in a blanket.” Other than this witness’s statement there was no sign of Lacy. Her parents were frantic and the police were concerned.
Another witness that the police contacted that fateful afternoon was Todd Lee Schonlau. When the police talked with Todd they noted that he was wearing a tee shirt that looked like the one the witness described who had seen a man carrying something wrapped in a blanket. When questioned about the shirt he was wearing Todd told the police that it was his brother Aaron’s shirt and that he had borrowed it because he had been snorkeling and his clothes were wet. He told the police that he and his brother Aaron had been camping on the beach and that he had not seen Lacy. Aaron Schonlau was hiding inside their small tent just a few feet of the police as they were questioning his brother Todd.
Aaron had recently been released from the Honolulu Police Department jail on a burglary charge. He was hiding in the tent because he thought the police had come to take him back to jail on the burglary charge.
Aaron’s burglary arrest was the result of an allegation by two campers who were camped on a beach in Honolulu, that Aaron had entered their tent as they slept and sexually assaulted the woman while the man slept beside her. Aaron said that he had been “partying” with the two campers and the assault was just a misunderstanding. The police later released Aaron because they could not complete their investigation. The victims could not be located.
To make matters worse for the Honolulu police, when they released Aaron on the burglary charge Aaron had an arrest warrant for burglary and escape in Colorado where both Aaron and Todd grew up. It seems that when Aaron was going through the Honolulu jail booking procedure a technician misspelled Aaron’s name and entered the wrong social security number in their computer and the Colorado warrant did not show up. Later Lacy Ruf was dead. Lacy’s parents initiated a civil lawsuit against the Honolulu Police Department for releasing Aaron from jail. Their lawsuit was not successful.
As a minor, Aaron had an arrest history in Thornton Colorado for sexual assault against a small child. Aaron was placed in juvenile custody for two years for this offense. The victim who is now an adult would not comment about the case , but Codefore learned from a credible independent source that the actual person who committed the sexual assault was Todd Schonlau not Aaron and that Aaron “took the wrap” for his brother Todd.
Todd Schonlau was interviewed in 1993 by an investigator for the Thornton Colorado Police Department in reference to the murder of Tracy Neef who lived a few blocks from the Schonlau brothers. Seven year old Tracy Neef was kidnapped while on her way to school and was later found deceased in the Colorado Rocky Mountian foothills near Boulder. There has never been an arrest.
Todd had just returned from Hawaii when interviewed by the Thornton police investigator. The investigator had no idea about the murder in Hawaii. However he was aware of Aaron’s sexual assault arrest in Thornton.
Todd told the investigator about their problems in Kauai and Honolulu. He told the investigator that after the Kauai Police had finished talking to him, when they were investigating the disappearance of Lacy, he spoke to his brother. He asked his brother if he had anything to do with the missing little girl. Todd said that his brother Aaron told him that he had done something terrible. Todd suggested to Aaron that he should get on a bus and leave the island before the police came back and arrested him. Aaron agreed. Sometime later Aaron and Todd purchased a bus ticket for Aaron.
When Aaron was on the bus Todd called the Kauai Police and turned in his brother Aaron for the murder of Lacy. He told the police that his brother was on a bus , was leaving and gave them the bus information. The Thornton investigator asked Todd why a person would turn in his own brother. Todd’s answer was that he was tired of taking care of Aaron and that Aaron needed to pay for his crime. The investigator asked Todd how he knew where Aaron had disposed of Lacy’s body. Todd said that he knew from the description of the location that Aaron had given him. Todd said that he took the Kauai Police to the place where Lacy’s body had been submerged in the ocean but they could not find her. Days later friends and members of Lacy’s family located her in 15-30 feet of water near where Todd had indicated she was located. A subsequent autopsy report determined the cause of death as drowning and that she was “brutally raped”.
According to newspaper accounts, Aaron plead guilty to the crime and was sentenced. Aaron says he plead ‘ no contest.’ Aaron told the police that he was high on alcohol and mushrooms and really didn’t remember much about the crime.
Codefore interviewed Aaron in late 2012 via US Mail. Detention authorities denied Codefore’s request for an interview with Aaron but they allowed US mail contact.
Aaron agreed to comment on his case. The communication was one letter at a time. He said he had no idea why his brother Todd would say he disposed of the body. When asked if he had murdered Lacy Ruf he said it he sexually assaulted Lacy and thought she died when he held his hand over her nose and mouth while raping her. He said his memory about disposing of the body was not clear. He said that he learned the details of the crime at his arraignment hearing and the subsequent court appearances. It was then that he learned that Lacy was alive after he had raped her and that she died from drowning.
Aaron said he has not talked to his brother since he was arrested on the bus in Kauai. He said that he was high on drugs and alcohol and that he had been walking the beach. A little girl and her dog were following him. He said that he took her and tried to have sex with her.
Aaron said that he signed his prepared confession because his attorney( Arthur Trask Jr. ) told him that if he didn’t plead guilty he could suffer a severe sentence such as life without parole. He said Trask told him the court would go “easy” on him if there was no trial. Trask was correct. Aaron was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years. Aaron said he admitted to things that he could not remember doing to get the guaranteed leniency. Codefore has since learned that Aaron’s attorney was disbarred.
I asked Aaron if he knew what he did with little Lacy’s body. Aaron said he thinks he stuffed some stones in her shirt and dragging her body into the Ocean and that” It could not have been over 4 or 5 feet deep because I cannot swim.” He described the stones as, “Not very heavy.” The reported depth where Lacy’s body was found was between 15 and 30 feet.
When asked about his relationship with his older brother Todd, Aaron said that for the majority of his childhood his older brother Todd had influence and total control over most everything he did. Todd insisted that Aaron accompany him wherever he went and as a result, he (Aaron) was usually held accountable for their childhood shenanigans. It was a way of life for Aaron.
Aaron said that he was only about a week away from completing his sentence for burglary in Colorado when his brother Aaron talked him into cashing his paycheck and walking away from his work release job. He said that Todd did not have any money and that he and Todd planned to escape to Mexico using Aaron’s paycheck to fund the trip.
He said that he did not commit the sexual assault on a child that resulted in his two-year confinement as a juvenile but he confessed to the crime because Todd convinced him that he was guilty and that he should admit to it. Thornton Police records indicate that the victim identified Aaron.
Aaron says he is eligible for parole in 5 years and does not want this story to affect his eligibility. He also said that if he had known that it was his brother Todd that actually caused the death of Lacy he would not have plead ‘no contest’ but would have asked for a trial. He said nothing can give him back his 30 years of incarceration and admits that he deserves his sentence for the assault on little Lacy. He wants his brother held accountable if Todd’s confession is correct.
Aleisia “Lacy” Wolsey Ruf is not with us today but on July 27th 1993 she was a vibrant 4 year old little girl. Her life was tragically taken from her and although she survived the brutal rape by Aaron Schonlau she did not survive her horrific intentional drowning in the Pacific waters of Hawaii. Lacy would be 24 this year.