Nesbitt’s punishment comes nearly two years after Schell died. An autopsy revealed that she died of a blood clot that traveled to her lungs, the Wichita Eagle reported. Schell’s death, according to court records obtained by The Washington Post, was caused by complications from injuries she suffered in the sexual assault.
Police said Nesbitt broke into the elderly woman’s Wichita home in September 2014. According to an affidavit, Schell went to her next-door neighbor’s home that morning, wearing only a towel to cover her breasts.
She was “shaking and distressed,” the neighbor told a Wichita detective.
Schell was later taken to a local hospital. Confused about what happened, she told the detective that a man broke into her home and tried to rape her, the affidavit said. She remembered being thrown around and getting hit on the back of her head behind her ear, she told the officer.
A test showed that Schell was indeed raped, as shown by significant injuries to her vaginal area, according to the affidavit.
By analyzing DNA profiles from sperm cells collected from Schell, investigators found a match with Nesbitt, whose DNA profile was already in a local database.
Schell, who remained hospitalized after the assault, died the following month.
A jury convicted Nesbitt of felony murder, rape and aggravated burglary charges last month. He’s filed a notice to appeal his conviction and sentence to the Kansas Supreme Court.
Nesbit’s criminal history stretches back to at least 1999, when he was 19, and includes several convictions on theft, burglary and criminal trespass, court records show.
Elderly people account for only 3 percent of sexual assault victims, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network or RAINN. More than half of victims are between the ages of 18 and 34. Nearly 30 percent are between 35 and 64, while 15 percent are minors.
Before her death, Schell was living a quiet and independent life in her home, using a walker to help her move around, Bennett told jurors last month, according to the Wichita Eagle. But the attack left her with a broken vertebrae and other injuries.
“The next day and the rest of her life was consumed by pain,” Bennett said, according to the paper.
After Nesbitt was sentenced, Bennett told the paper that Schell’s relatives are still grieving.
“No one expects a 100-year-old family member to live forever,” Bennett said. “But no one expects a 100-year-old family member to die like this.”
The victim’s son, Kerin Schell of Wichita, declined to speak with The Post.
Besides her son, Schell, a retired school board secretary, also left behind a daughter, two grandsons and one great-grandson, according to her obituary.
“Rest in peace sweet and gentle lady,” Gloria Gadomski wrote in the guest book.
“May you be comforted in the knowledge that others share in your loss,” Betty Washington wrote.