When Scott Amedure confessed his crush on his straight friend Jonathan Schmitz while appearing on the daytime talk show, a stunned Schmitz seemed to laugh it off — but three days later, he shot Amedure dead.
On March 6, 1995, Scott Amedure went on The Jenny Jones Show to confess his “secret crush” on a man named Jonathan Schmitz. Both men led quiet, everyday lives in the American Midwest prior to that day — and, perhaps they would have continued to if they hadn’t gone on one of the most popular talk shows of the 1990s.
But just a few days after their appearance on the show, Amedure was dead, and Schmitz was arrested for his murder. In the end, Schmitz was convicted of second-degree murder, sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison, and ultimately retried and released in 2017.
Questions remain, however, about the so-called “Jenny Jones Murder.” Perhaps chief among them is this: If The Jenny Jones Show hadn’t invited the men on the show, would Scott Amedure still be alive today?
Scott Amedure’s Life Before The Jenny Jones Show
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Scott Bernard Amedure lived an “all-American” life. His father, Frank, was a truck-driver, and his mother, Patricia, was a housewife. Shortly after Amedure was born, the family moved to Michigan, and Frank and Patricia divorced shortly thereafter.
Amedure subsequently dropped out of high school to enroll in the Army, where he served for three years before being honorably discharged with the rank of Specialist.
He returned home to Michigan, where he worked in the telecommunications industry for several years before finally switching over to bartending — his preferred profession — because he enjoyed the social life that came with it.
As an out and proud gay man, Scott Amedure was generous when it came to his community and even took in his friends who were suffering from HIV complications at a time when no one else would do so.
But his life forever and irreparably changed when he went on The Jenny Jones Show on March 6, 1995, to confess a secret crush he had on his friend, Jonathan Schmitz.
The Story Of Jonathan Schmitz And The “Jenny Jones Murder”
According to Jonathan Schmitz, he was completely blindsided by the revelation that Scott Amedure was his “secret admirer.” The Jenny Jones producers, however, argued that they told Schmitz that the person could be a man or a woman.
Regardless of which version of events you believe, the end result was still the same: Three days after the show was taped, Amedure reportedly left a suggestive note in Schmitz’s mailbox, leading to a lethal confrontation.
After Amedure admitted to Schmitz that he left the note in the mailbox, Schmitz went to his car, pulled out a shotgun, and fired two rounds into Amedure’s chest, killing him instantly in what became known as the “Jenny Jones Murder.” Schmitz then phoned 911 and confessed to the murder, though he would later testify that he felt “gay panic” in his defense.
Nevertheless, in 1996, he was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder. The conviction was subsequently overturned on appeal, but a 1999 retrial found Schmitz guilty of the same charge, and he received the same sentence.
In 2017, Jonathan Schmitz was released from jail. And though he’s remained out of the spotlight ever since, Frank Amedure Jr. — Scott Amedure’s brother — wasn’t convinced that his brother’s killer had learned his lesson.
“I wanted assurance that the decision was not based on just good behavior in prison,” he said to The Detroit Free Press. “I’d like to know that he learned something, that he’s a changed man, is no longer homophobic and has gotten psychological care.”
The Role Of The Jenny Jones Show In Scott Amedure’s Death
It’s hard to overstate just how different things were back in the 1990s. Homosexuality was a curiosity at the time — one that was reserved for daytime talk shows like The Jenny Jones Show. And when viewed through today’s lens, there’s little question that Scott Amedure would still be alive, today, if he hadn’t gone on the show with Jonathan Schmitz.
But there were many in the 1990s that were also convinced that “The Jenny Jones Murder” could have been completely avoided. Writing for The Buffalo News, attorney Alan Dershowitz said he believed that Jones and her producers were more than just negligent in their behavior.
In fact, Dershowitz believed that Schmitz’s malice played more of a role in Scott Amedure’s death than his claims of a “gay panic,” though Dershowitz stopped just short of outright accusing Jones and her producers of murder.
“Jenny Jones should not take any solace from the legal conclusion that her show’s conduct does not excuse Schmitz’s conduct,” he wrote. “The First Amendment protects the show from any legal consequences, but it does not immunize them from the criticism, which they justly deserve, for their irresponsible actions.”
But whatever culpability the Jenny Jones producers have in a legal sense, the fact remains that Scott Amedure was killed — after being used for entertainment on television.
Now that you’ve read all about Scott Amedure, read the heartbreaking story of Skylar Neese, the 16-year-old whose best friends brutally killed her because they didn’t like her anymore. Then, read the chilling story of Jasmine Richardson, who killed her family with her “werewolf” boyfriend.