30 years later, a killer is found. But she'll never spend a day in jail.

It’s said that Rose Marie Maher died on Sept. 28, 2021, but really her heart stopped beating on a muggy July night nearly three decades earlier.

All the joy of life, all the challenge of it and the expectation, the delicious expectation, died in 1994, on the night her daughter Angela was cut down on Scottsdale Road.

And in the days that followed, as that system we call justice opened the door and let her killer go free.

“Twenty years out there,” a still-heartsick Rose Marie told me a decade ago when we last talked. “Never one day did she spend in jail, not one day. It’s not right.”

Earlier this month, we finally learned what happened to the elusive drunken driver who killed Angela Marie Maher.

It’s a story that was destined never to have a happy ending, but this?

If Rose Marie were here, she’d be both furious and devastated, then furious all over again.

Angela Maher was always the designated driver

Angela, Rose Marie once told me, was the kind of girl people were drawn to, with an easy smile that said there were no strangers.

During her senior year at Xavier College Preparatory, she founded a chapter of Students Against Driving Drunk after a friend died in an incident stemming from his own impaired driving. In high school, Angela was always the designated driver, the responsible one who made sure everyone got home safely.

So, it wasn’t a surprise four years later when Angela, while home from college for a few days to celebrate her mother’s 57th birthday, got a call from an old high school friend, asking for a ride home from Stixx, then one of Scottsdale’s hot spots.

And so at 10 minutes until 10 p.m. on Friday, July 29, 1994, Angela climbed into her mother’s white Oldsmobile and drove off to fetch her friend.

Shortly after midnight, Rose Marie started to worry. Angela had said she’d be home by midnight, and if Angela said she’d be home, you could count on it. She was that kind of girl.

Besides, she knew her mother would never go to sleep until her children were safely home, no matter how old they were. Rose Marie was that kind of mom.

People like my mom should be celebrated. I choose to do it in my own way.

She was killed by a drunken driver

It was 10 minutes until 1 a.m. when the police came knocking.

“They wanted to know if I had a white Oldsmobile,” Maher said.

After leaving home that night, Angela had turned right onto Scottsdale Road and was headed south, toward Stixx.

The maroon van had just pulled out of Thunder and Lightning, a bar near Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard. The van was northbound on Scottsdale Road when it drifted across the center line, striking one vehicle then slamming head on into Angela’s car.

Angela Marie Maher, 21, was dead at the scene, killed by a drunken driver not five minutes from her home. Not five months before she would have graduated from Creighton University.

The 31-year-old driver of the van, Gloria Schulze, had all the signs of impairment: the boozy smell, the bloodshot eyes, the slurred speech, the breath test that put her well over the legal limit.

Yet Scottsdale police, on the advice of a prosecutor, didn’t arrest her that night or later, when blood tests showed she was a .159, with a trace of marijuana thrown in.

Rose Marie never could understand that.

“The day I buried my daughter I called the county attorney from the funeral home,” Maher told me in July 1997, on the third anniversary of her daughter’s death. “I couldn’t understand why she was walking the streets while I was burying my daughter.”

Gloria Schulze never did jail time. Then she fled.

Don't worry, police told her. These things take time.

A grand jury charged Schulze with manslaughter and endangerment, yet even then prosecutors didn’t ask for her arrest or even that she post a bond. It probably didn’t hurt that Schulze had hired a high-priced attorney, though the judge did at least order that she get drug testing three times a week and check in weekly by phone.

Which she did. For a while.

I'm always on social media. And I'm pretty sure you are, too. Why are we still lonely?

In the two weeks before her trial was to start in April 2001, Schulze missed five drug tests and a weekly call, and no one noticed. She sold two cars and ran up her credit cards and no one noticed.

No one realized she was gone until her seat in the courtroom sat empty. By then, she had a 15-day head start, one that would stretch into decades.

“The hard part is that they had her,” Rose Marie told me in July 2002, on the eighth anniversary of her daughter’s death. “The justice system allowed her to flee.”

Schulze was tried in absentia and found guilty of manslaughter and endangerment, and prosecutors cleared the case.

Someone found her (or her grave) 30 years later

For Maher, however, it never would be cleared. She dogged everybody she could think of, hoping to motivate or even shame authorities into finding her daughter’s killer.

At her urging, the story was featured on “America's Most Wanted” and other national shows. But nothing came of it.

The FBI was called in and claimed to be working the case. But nothing came of it.

A private investigator turned up evidence that Schulze might be with family in California. But nothing came of it.

Rose Marie believed Angela’s death had been forgotten, the file relegated to some dusty corner.

“Nobody really cares,” she told me in 2014, on the 20th anniversary of Angela’s death. “The bottom line here: Nobody really cares and nobody does anything.”

Somebody cared after all, though far too late to make any difference.

Two weeks ago, nearly 30 years after Angela’s death, Scottsdale police announced that they had found Angela’s killer. Or her grave, anyway.

Acting on an anonymous tip to Schultze’s brother, a police analyst found a news article written in tribute to Schulze upon her death.

Shulze moved to Canada, was arrested in 2009

It seems Gloria Schulze, the drunken driver who killed a young woman then bolted to save her own sorry skin, became Kate Dooley, the pride of Yellowknife, Canada, where she was known for staging the community’s fireworks shows.

Besides blowing things up, Schultze/Dooley, we now learn, loved dogs, painted houses, worked at mining camps in the Northwest Territories and liked metal music and Etta James.

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Schulze/Dooley died of cancer in December 2019. The community even offered a tribute a few weeks later during its annual New Year’s fireworks celebration.

So it’s case closed for everybody. Everybody, that is, but Rose Marie, who died in 2021 having lived until 84, never knowing how her family tragedy would end.

As we approach the 30th anniversary of her daughter’s death, since she’s not here, I’ll ask the questions I’m certain she would ask:

  • How is it that this woman never spent so much as a minute in jail? How was she able to live for 25 years as someone else and nobody figured it out?

  • How did she get across the U.S. Canadian border? And why did it take until 2024 to find out that she had been arrested and fingerprinted – for DUI no less – in 2009 in Yellowknife?

  • How is it that someone knew she was there and kept her secret?

Did she ever remember the woman she killed?

But I think what Rose Marie might most have wanted to know was whether Gloria Schulze ever spent one minute thinking about the devastation she left in her wake … maybe as she was watching her fireworks bursting overhead on all those celebrations she got to have.

Did she ever remember Angela or her mother Rose Marie, who never gave up looking?

“This woman gets up every day and sees the sun,” Rose Marie told me in 2004, on the 10th anniversary of Angela’s death. “My daughter is dead. It’s not a nice picture, so what do you do?

“What do you do?”

Laurie Roberts is a columnist at The Arizona Republic, where this column first appeared. Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com or follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @LaurieRoberts

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: She died because of a drunk driver. Her killer will never go to jail