A day after a convicted cop killer’s execution was stalled due to his dementia, the officer’s friends say the murderer must still be put to death.
On April 18, 1985, Cpl. Julius Schulte was shot twice in the head by Vernon Madison while responding to a call about a missing child that turned into a domestic dispute in Mobile, Ala.
Madison was sentenced to death for the killing and was scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday.
But on that same day, the U.S. Supreme Court halted Madison’s execution after attorneys argued that stroke-induced dementia left the 67-year-old man unable to remember killing Schulte.
“I’ve seen news accounts from different news sources… ‘Vernon Morris, dementia patient, stroke patient, set to die for murder of a cop…’ Yes he’s got dementia, but that will not take way from what he did at 34 years old,” Det. Raymond Grissett told InsideEdition.com. “He was a violent criminal, a career criminal as far as I’m concerned, and he executed a police officer and tried to kill his girlfriend.”
Now 59, Grissett first met Schulte as a teenager. Grissett’s father, Raymond Grissett Sr., was a homicide detective, with whom he often spent time at the department.
“He was just a big ol’ teddy bear,” Grissett said of Schulte. “He put that big gruff look on his face, but he was a kind, gentle guy. He’d always speak to you when he saw you.”
Schulte’s approachability made him one of the best and well-suited to the Mobile Police Department’s juvenile division, which at the time handled all cases involving children.
“It took patience and compassion,” Grissett said of the job.
“He was a step-in parent to many children who were wayward in life,” Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran, who worked in the juvenile division alongside Schulte, told InsideEdition.com. “He’d help round up kids, runaways and investigate those cases where maybe a runaway had a good reason to be running away. He’d see all aspects of it and help in any way he could. He was in community policing before community policing was a thing.”
It was a call about a missing 11-year-old girl that brought Schulte to an Etta Avenue home on the night of April 18, 1985.
Cheryl Greene called police to report her daughter missing, and though she had returned by the time Schulte arrived, the officer quickly realized another situation requiring police presence was unfolding.
Greene and her ex-boyfriend, Vernon Madison, had recently ended their relationship, but Madison went out searching for the little girl and found Greene packing his clothes when he returned.
She was also packing her and her daughter’s things with plans to stay at a friend’s home.
But Madison was apparently most upset to find a police officer outside the house.
“Why you call the cops?” he said, court papers showed. “Why in the hell did you call the police on me?”
Greene and Madison came out of the home to speak with Schulte, who remained inside his parked, unmarked police car.
“I can’t believe you called the cops,” Madison kept yelling, as Schulte repeatedly told him to get his things and go.
Madison tried telling Schulte his presence was necessary but the officer told Madison that if he was having a domestic dispute, the best thing for him to do was “just to go on and let things cool down,” court documents showed.
“Okay, I’m gone,” Madison replied.
But instead of leaving, Madison went to the car that was waiting for him, grabbed a .32 caliber pistol and snuck up on Schulte.
As Schulte sat in his car, Madison fired two shots into his head.
“This guy was just out of control,” Cochran said, noting he was at home when he got the call that Schulte had been shot. “I just remember thinking, ‘Of call people, why Julius?'”
The assassination stunned the community and department, as Schulte was known for his even temper and respectful demeanor to all he encountered.
“He was highly respected,” Grissett said. “He made an impression on me when I was young. He treated everybody like human beings. He didn’t talk down to them, he talked to them.”
After shooting Schulte, Madison shot Greene as she tried to flee, hitting her in the back before straddling her and firing several more shots.
“I’ll show you b****,” he said. “You b****, if you want to play this game I can play it too.”
Greene survived the shooting and was able to testify against Madison, who was arrested the next day.
The gun he used to kill Schulte and wound Greene was still with him when he was caught.
Schulte was rushed to a nearby hospital, but he was gravely injured and couldn’t be saved. He died after about a week on life support.
“It was a big loss to this department, it was a big loss to his family—his wife, his widow, and his kids had to grow up without their father,” Grissett said.
Madison was later found guilty and sentenced to death.
His case made its way through state and federal appeals in the years since, leaving Schulte’s family and friends with no sense of closure.
“Every time it comes up… [his son] has to relive everything,” Grissett said. “Officers that remember Julius have to relive everything.”
Though he was scheduled to receive a lethal injection on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court halted that order after attorneys argued that stroke-induced dementia left Madison unable to remember killing Schulte.
“[Madison] has fought it so long, it’s his own actions that have delayed it,” Cochran said. “To me, it’s just been a mockery of the justice through the years.”
The court plans to further review claims that Madison is mentally incompetent, as its previous ruling decided inmates must have a “rational understanding” that they are going to be executed and of the reason for the execution.
“There’s things I did in my childhood that I cannot remember, does that make me innocent of what I’ve done? It doesn’t,” Grissett said.
Though Madison’s fate is currently unclear, members of the Mobile Police department know one thing for certain. Come April, they will receive an email from the department’s chaplain. It will mark the anniversary of Schulte’s death.
“We don’t forget the officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect the citizens they serve,” Grissett said. “Today’s portrayal of police officers is, that we’re a bunch of badge-heavy, I guess you could say, thugs, and we’re not. And Julius was one of the nicest guys — the community loved him, the kids loved him and his coworkers loved him.”