Interviews

Published on February 21st, 2020 | by Percy Crawford

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Part II of My Conversation with Danny Schneider of Netflix’s “The Pharmacist!”

The second and final installment of the scintillating and heroic story of, Danny Schneider.

Although Danny Schneider didn’t set forth his mission for accolades or recognition, he’s getting everything he deserves. Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.” Slightly over 20-years ago, Danny Schneider left no stones unturned while risking his freedom, his family and his life to secure justice for his son, Danny Jr. Mark Twain’s quote clearly doesn’t apply to, Mr. Schneider because he did what most are afraid to do, he fought. And he fought until the very end. A more fitting quote for, Mr. Schneider is one by the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.” Danny Schneider stood up and is still standing tall!

During the final conversation with, Danny Schneider we discuss the whereabouts of his son’s killer, Jefferey Hall, completing the mission and the dangers of addiction.

There had to be a thin line between finding the guy who committed this murder and forgiving him at some point. How did your emotions range throughout that process?

Danny Schneider: Well you know, it’s really another crazy part of the story, initially, the police made a major mistake. This young 15-year old man was named as the killer. I wasn’t told that. I was told he was the witness. But what he was, he was named as the killer, he went to the police and said, “I didn’t do it, but somebody else did.” They immediately turned him into a witness. Which is the wrong thing to do. The police should have investigated him fully. Look for evidence fully. But they kind of took the easy way out. It was nice, he was the witness and he named the killer. Case solved. It didn’t turn out that way because the killer was the killer. In any event, I actually worked with the kid (laughing). We became sort of friends. He called me Mr. Danny. He was going to help me find the gun.

That’s crazy.

Danny Schneider: That is crazy. Eventually, when I finally found a witness, there was a super witness that finally came forward and helped us resolve this thing, and I had to work to find that. When I found her, she told me that there was this kid… let me just tell you though, I wasn’t actually sure he was the killer. Somewhere along the line I did find out that he had been named as potentially the killer. There is one scene where, the DA was going to drop the case. I talked to the DA and said, “What can I do?” And they said, “So far what the kid is giving us ain’t enough.” I asked if they would let me bring him up there. They said they thought it was a waste of time, but I told them, “I would really like to bring him up here.” So, I went to him and his grandmother and I said, “Look, I want you to go up with me to the DA and I want you to retell your story. He’s going to question you and maybe get some more detail to make this thing work.” So, I put him and his grandmother in my car because he’s only 15-years old. I hooked up a recorder in my trunk, and I ran the microphone into the backseat because they were in the backseat. I was hoping that maybe if they knew something that they weren’t going to tell me, whether he was the killer or they knew more than what they were saying, it would come out.

So, I made like two stops. One was to go to the bathroom, and one was to get gas to get out of the car while the recorder was going, hoping him or his grandmother might say something. Truly this is interesting too because apparently my taping system wasn’t really sophisticated enough because it was very hard for me to understand. I heard a few words, but I couldn’t pick anything out incriminating and I had to move on. I think these guys enhanced that, but they didn’t use any of it. So, I don’t know if there were any revelations or if they could enhance it to where you could really hear it. And maybe they didn’t say anything, but after things settle down a little bit that’s something that I want to get answered. It could have been where he named himself as the killer when I was in the bathroom. It took a long time to solve it after that and that could have been the answer right there if I could have got it.

I’m going to tell you right now, Mr. Danny, they were not ready for you. My goodness you were prepared for everything.

Danny Schneider: It was interesting. But to answer your question and back to the kid, I’m mad at him. I’m mad at him for two reasons, he killed my son, but he betrayed me. Walking in the neighborhoods with the blacks and the low income and drug infestation, I developed a sense of what life was like for them, okay. A little bit of compassion crept in, even for my son’s killer. This kid was 15-years old, his daddy was in jail, I think his momma had been in jail, he’s living with his grandma with a bunch of other grandkids, he’s in a desperate neighborhood where the only thing that leads to success or having money, is selling drugs. So, I don’t totally exonerate him for that, but I started to understand. And then my Christian nature, I started praying real hard, “Please God help me forgive him.” I do believe I will forgive him. I don’t feel this hatred that I did at one time. And I told him I forgave him. I don’t know if it’s 100% forgiveness, it’s a work in progress, but it’s pretty close. Now, it isn’t as close for my wife. She won’t even say what I’m saying.

And that’s completely understandable.

Danny Schneider: That is also understandable. But she says she will never forgive him. That’s part of it. When we get into the jail because we went and visited him in jail after he was in for about 10-years, the kid basically says, he’s sorry, he wish he could take it back and he’s got his GED now. And it seems like he’s found Christ. I think we even said a prayer together. But one of the comments he said, and I think this was early on, “Mr. Danny, thank you for saving my life.” I have to give you some background on this, but I said, “It wasn’t me that saved your life, it was my son.” I’ll fill you in on that. Obviously if my son wouldn’t have gotten killed, I wouldn’t have gotten him off the streets and he would have gotten killed on the streets. He knew that. All of his friends were dead on the street. Actually, if I would’ve wanted justice, I probably would have left him on the street. I did want justice, but I wanted to do it the right way. And I was also afraid that he might kill somebody else in the meantime. So, I had to get him off the streets. My son was 100% against the death penalty. He wrote a poem and all kinds of stuff. That story is eventually going to come out.

There are so many layers to this story.

Danny Schneider: That wasn’t included in the documentary. There were so many things to include they couldn’t include everything. I had the opportunity at one point in time, when I was really mad at him, because I found out he was the killer and I found out that he betrayed me. I think it’s on the docuseries. I was introduced to a man in the area that supposedly knew the area. He was involved in the drug business, but he’s an old man and sort of retired you might say. Somebody that was actually an ex drug addict actually brought me to him because he thought he could get me some answers. And when I was on the porch with this old man, I gave him the information that I had. I had it narrowed down to two kids. One in which was the killer and the other one who I wasn’t quite sure of. In any event, the old man says, “I can find out. Do you want me to have him killed?” For $500 bucks I could have had him killed. For one, I would hope that I really would have never done it even if my son didn’t write this poem. And maybe I would have. But you know what absolutely stopped me, his poem. And his nonbelief in the death penalty.

And I also bargained with, God. “If you could help me find me son’s killer and get some measure of justice and get him off the streets so that he can’t kill again, and nobody gets hurt. I don’t get killed, and my witness doesn’t get killed. No innocent people get hurt. If you do that for me, I’ll go on a mission.” And if you notice, I think its episode three says, “A Mission from God.” That was the bargain. Everything else I did after the case was resolved, was me fulfilling the mission of God. But basically, I had opportunities to kill this kid. My son saved his life and he saved his life because it also got him off the dog gone streets.

The only sad part of this, I told him I forgave him, and I told him I prayed for him. I was sincere. At least I was sincere to the point where I was trying to forgive him. I didn’t seem to have that same kind of hatred anymore. I wished him the best. I said, “Man, go out now, you got another chance,” he was going to get out in 3-years at that time. He was 10-years in, he had 3-years to go. I said, “When you get out, man, live right. My son would want that. I want that.” Well, he got out for about 4-years and it’s really weird because while he was out, he did the video. And it looks like he has a pretty clean record. I got some contacts with the police department and I got a chance to look at his record. He was clean. At least he didn’t have any arrest. But dammit he was found in St. Bernard Parish with a gun and drugs, and he’s a convicted felon. He’s back in prison now for 5-years.

Damn! I wanted it to end well for him.

Danny Schneider: I think he tried. And look, if he can survive prison again, he’ll have another chance. He’ll be a little bit older, and two strikes… maybe. I just hope and pray. The truth is, even if he gets out in 5-years, and he might actually get out before 5-years. Five years is the total sentence. He may get out in three. He’s still a young man. The kid was 15 when he shot my son. So, he’s less than 40. By the time he gets out of jail he’ll be less than 40. My kid didn’t get to have that chance. He’s got a chance at a life. Now, I know it’s going to be tough on him now. He’s got a damn record now. They’re getting a lil better with that now. On trying to help people that came out of prison. I’m going to hope and pray. If he will cooperate with me, I’ll help him. I really would. If he would go on a speaking tour with me, I would go with him.

You are an awesome man with amazing faith, Mr. Danny. Before I let you go because I have kept you long enough, on the addiction side of things. That is something else you tackled, and it appears, whatever you put your mind to, you don’t stop until the mission is complete.

Danny Schneider: Well you know… again when my son was murdered, we got a knock at the door at 2:00 in the morning. We had no… not even a hint that he was doing something like crack and going in that area to buy it. If you would have told me he was doing marijuana, yeah, I caught him doing marijuana. I don’t think he was what you would call a pot head. I tried to get him to stop. Secretly, I didn’t tell him, but in my own mind I said, “Well, if that’s all he does and he doesn’t do it too much, I’m okay.” I wouldn’t tell him that, but that’s how I felt. We did see a few little signs before, and we tried to get some answers.

We brought him to a doctor one time to check him out. I was trying to check with him and talk with him. He eventually sort of admitted depression. Unfortunately, that disarmed me because I’m thinking, “Okay, maybe it’s not drugs.” I confronted him. I said, “Is it drugs?” When I asked was it drugs, I never ever would have thought he would have said, “Yeah daddy, I’m doing crack.” I hate to see it, but a white middle class kid from our neighborhood going to buy crack up there. He probably could’ve got powered cocaine down in St. Bernard. He would have been a lot safer. But apparently somebody… because I even researched how he started doing it, I was able to get most of the facts. It actually was brought to him. The old saying that one hit could possibly get you addicted, it’s not 100% true, but it’s pretty close. That happened with him. And then I think he abstained for awhile and then he had a breakup with his girlfriend and went into depression and apparently, he started again and this time it grabbed him. He was only really doing this on a regular basis during the last 6-weeks of his life. In hindsight now, some of the things I heard and saw, were probably signs. But at the time, I didn’t know it. I thought it was depression.

Were you familiar with addiction prior to this?

Danny Schneider: I actually didn’t know anything about addiction. So, after I figured that out, I had to figure out, what is addiction? I did things like attend AAA classes, narcotics anonymous classes. Not because I had a problem, but it was to associate with these people. To get a feel for it. So, I trained myself and educated myself on addiction. I was mad at my son. I was mad. I couldn’t understand how he could do this. So, I came to understand that, maybe initially they play around with this thing, but it becomes something they can’t necessarily control in some instances. So, in any event, I did that, I studied addiction and I started seeing these kids walk into the store with these high powered Oxycontin prescriptions. And I see them getting addicted and I see them dying. Nobody seemed to be doing anything about it; at least fast enough. And I went for it. It was part of my mission.



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