Deny Parole for a Cold-Blooded Killer in Michigan

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Please sign this petition in support of all those who loved Mark Schafer as we fight to keep the man who so brutally murdered him incarcerated. This petition will be delivered to the Michigan Parole Board at a public hearing on February 11, 2019. 

Mark Schafer was a young soldier stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado. In January 1992 he was awarded a new assignment at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. During his transition he was approved leave to visit his family in Essexville, Michigan. Mark was excited about his new assignment and the visit with his loved ones and they were excited too. Life was a celebration when Mark was around. No one could have ever imagined his time home on leave would be the last days of Mark's life.

On January 24th, 1992, approaching the end of his leave time, Mark made plans to spend time with dear friends from high school. At the end of the evening he found himself at the shared home of an longtime friend, Chris, and his girlfriend Stacey. There were several people at the home that evening watching football, playing cards and socializing. Also at the home was a woman named Debbie. During the course of the evening Debbie and her boyfriend, Clay Hayward, were arguing on the phone. These were individuals Mark Schafer didn't know very well, in fact, he had never met Debbie's boyfriend Clay Hayward. 

The argument between Debbie and Clay Hayward escalated through the evening. A witness described Clay Hayward being so angry, "He was in a white-knuckle rage when he was talking to her on the phone, he held that phone so tight his knuckles were white". Another witness stated that Clay Hayward said, "He would beat her ass (Debbie's) black and blue if he seen her again." During these phone conversations Stacy also spoke with Clay Hayward, she stated he was furious with Debbie for reasons he would not say. He also made comments about Mark Schafer. In a recorded statement from that night Stacey testified that Clay Hayward told her on the phone, “Tell Mark Schafer that if he wants to come over, he can go ahead because I will blow him away." After that statement Stacey asked Clay Hayward, "Why are you acting that way towards Mark? Mark hasn't done anything to you."  Clay Hayward's response was, "I heard he (Mark) said shit about me, I don't really remember what he said." Stacey reiterated, "Mark has no beef with you at all," Clay Haywards response was, "That's cool, I just want my sweatshirt and I want my coat."

From conflicting witness testimony either Clay Hayward demanded return of some personal belongings of his, or Debbie wanted to pick up personal belonging of hers from him. Either way, Debbie decided to return to his home where she had been earlier in the night and Stacey accompanied her. They drove the approximately ten miles to Clay Hayward's home. After they arrived at the home the argument continued and it became physical. Stacey stated, "He just started throwing her (Debbie) around the kitchen" and "he threw her against a wall." Stacey and another witness at the home stopped the assault.  At that point Debbie was crying and Clay Hayward said to Debbie, "I'm going downstairs, I'm coming back up in five minutes and you (Debbie) better be gone.

Per witness testimony, within 5-8 minutes after Debbie and Stacey arrived at Clay Hayward's home Chris and Mark Schafer arrived. Chris and Mark had agreed to follow in Mark's car because Stacey would need a ride home and Mark wanted to eat at one of his favorite restaurants in Bay City, the Texan, which was not far from this home. Mark Schafer, who did not know where Clay Hayward lived, was directed to the home by his friend Chris. Upon arriving at the home they entered and found Debbie crying. It was then that Clay Hayward reappeared from the basement. 

Witness testimony states Clay Hayward "jumped right into Mark's face" and he said, "Get the fuck out of my house right now." Witness testimony said Mark appeared "scared" and “you could see it in his eyes he (Mark) was frightened.” At that moment the group started to make their way to the door. Mark asked Clay Hayward, “What's wrong with you? Why are you trying to be such a tough guy?" Once again Clay Hayward, said "Get the fuck out of my house." Mark Schafer then "Lifted his arms and said okay, okay, no problem, you want me to leave, I'll get out of your house." As the group (Stacy, Debbie, Mark and Chris) were making their way to the back door Clay continued with his "rampage, yelling and screaming and stuff." Clay Hayward then said, "You have three seconds to leave." Mark made a statement to Clay Hayward telling him, "It's not really cool for you to be hitting on girls."  Clay Hayward then counted, "One". Some witnesses said Mark counted "two, three" with him. On the count of three Clay Hayward produced a Browning pistol, and from the distance of about eight feet he shot Mark Schafer in the face at the back door of the home. Mark slumped to the floor. Clay Hayward then stood at Mark's feet and emptied five more bullets into him. He didn't stop there, as Mark lay dying he kicked Mark Schafer as hard as he could in the groin, then he threw the gun at him with such force the trigger broke off. After Clay Hayward was finished with Mark he continued his rampage and physically assaulted Chris. Mark Schafer never raised a hand to Clay Hayward or threatened him in any way. 

Clay Hayward was taken into custody that night and he was later tried for 1st degree murder. Subsequently he was convicted of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to "Life" in prison. In Michigan, under 2nd degree murder, "LIFERS" eventually become eligible  for parole. In 2014 Clay Hayward was considered for parole for the first time. The parole board initially chose to parole him, however Mark's friends, family and the Bay County Prosecutor's office fought back. In 2015 'The People V. Clay Hayward' prevailed and Clay Hayward has since remained incarcerated. 

Now, five years later, the Michigan Parole Board is once again considering this killers release. The prosecutor's office and all those who loved Mark are prepared to fight again. Please join us in this fight by signing this petition sending a clear message to the Michigan Parole Board that we will not tolerate the release of a cold blooded killer.

Currently Clay Hayward is incarcerated at a Veteran's Prison in Freeland, Michigan. Clay Hayward served less than 6 months in the US Marines and was released because of "flat feet". Our family is disgusted by the fact that he uses false valor to receive special services when he so brutally took the life of an active duty soldier. 

Mark was an amazing young man. He was just a few weeks from his 20th birthday and proudly serving his country when he was murdered. He was very much loved in our small community. He was a popular athlete, he loved music, children, the outdoors and lived a very social life. He has been terribly missed by all those who loved him. The trial, subsequent appeals and parole proceeding over the years have taken their toll on our family. For years we have fought abhorrent lies crafted by a killer and his attorney about Mark. It's beyond painful to read these vicious lies about our murdered loved one. Our love for Mark is what drives us to continue to pursue  justice for him. Because of the absolute violence of this crime and Clay Hayward's continued attempts to minimize his crime we believe he should not be granted parole. 

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