2016-10-06 / Front Page

Class president’s murder revived by parole hearing

Forgiveness difficult for his family
By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


MATTHEW LEHMANN, shown here in his senior photo, was well-loved at Glen Lake High School, his alma mater, and in his community. MATTHEW LEHMANN, shown here in his senior photo, was well-loved at Glen Lake High School, his alma mater, and in his community. Tanis Lehmann recounts the day a sheriff’s deputy sat her on her couch and told her that her son, 26-year-old Matthew Lehmann, had been killed.

“When he told me Matthew was dead I literally felt something leave,” said Tanis, of Maple City. “Whoosh. It just went.”

Bruce Lehmann, Matthew’s father, still chokes up when he talks about the son who was killed 1998 in Dayton, Ohio, by a man who was angry that Matthew had gotten him fired from a job.

David L. Mace, who is serving 18 years to life at the Madison Correctional Facility in Indiana, will soon be up for his first parole hearing. He will have served 18 years of that sentence as of November.

The possibility that Mace, now 41, could actually be released is something that Bruce Lehmann finds insulting.


A STONE MARKER at Glen Lake School honors Matthew Lehmann. A STONE MARKER at Glen Lake School honors Matthew Lehmann. “I really don’t know where to direct my anger on this,” said Bruce, who lives in Cedar.

Mace’s parole hearing had been scheduled for October, but was postponed so that Mace could finish a ‘class’ required for his release, Bruce said.

If a parole board decides that Mace can be released, the Lehmanns can appeal that decision. They would attend a hearing at which they can state reasons they think Mace should stay in prison.

Janine Lehmann, Matthew’s stepmother, says Mace’s parole hearing is bringing all the pain from his death back to the surface. Matthew was 12 when Janine and Bruce were married.

There is also fear.

“I always wonder, will he come up here?” Janine asked.

Back in 1998 Matthew was working as a project manager for ITS Communications Technology, a company that was installing computer and tele- phone systems at Sinclair Community College in Dayton.


A TREE, shrubs and memorial plaque located on the campus at Glen Lake Community School were placed there in memory of Matthew Lehmann, a 1990 graduate who was murdered in Ohio in 1998. A TREE, shrubs and memorial plaque located on the campus at Glen Lake Community School were placed there in memory of Matthew Lehmann, a 1990 graduate who was murdered in Ohio in 1998. Mace, who was 23 when he killed Matthew, had been working for the company. After missing several days of work, Matthew contacted the employment agency that had sent Mace to the technology job and told them he would no longer be needed, Bruce said.

Mace then showed up at the hotel where Matthew had been staying and strangled him to death with a cable wire, according to old Enterprise news reports.

Matthew was found the next morning when a co-worker stopped to pick him up for work.

Mace had a long history of run-ins with the law and in January 1998 had been arrested for felonious assault. He was released on bond.

In March he was picked up again for grand theft auto and again released on bond.

Mace was, in fact, out on bond on both charges when Matthew was killed in June.

“He was awaiting two trials when he killed Matthew,” Tanis said.

“It’s just disgusting how the system works,” Bruce said. “This guy is the product of the legal system in Ohio.”

Mace never went to trial for killing Matthew. Instead, he was offered a plea deal for manslaughter, Bruce said.

The Lehmann family was told that going through a trial would have put them through excruciating details, Tanis said. They also told the family that they could not prove pre-meditation, a requirement for a charge of first degree homicide.

Remembering Matthew

In the 18 years since Matthew’s death, the Lehmann family now focuses on all the positive things about Matthew, including how many people loved him, respected him and admired him.

Hundreds showed up for his funeral, which was held in the Glen Lake Community Schools gymnasium.

“If any of his friends had a problem he’s the one that helped them through it,” Tanis said.

For several years, from 1999 until 2013, the Matthew Lehmann Scholarship was awarded annually to a Glen Lake graduate headed for college.

The scholarship was given to a student who wrote an essay about their humanitarian spirit. The essays were read aloud by Tanis, who also presented the $1,000 award.

A tree and a stone marker are also on the grounds of the school.

The Lehmanns remember that Matthew was president of his class and played every sport, even though he wasn’t the most gifted athlete.

They recall with laughter the stitches in his chin from getting hit with a golf ball, the leg he broke playing baseball and the broken collarbone he got when wrestling with Mark Lehmann, his younger brother.

And after he graduated he gave back by coaching basketball at St. Mary and baseball at Glen Lake.

He left a string of broken hearts, too, although Tanis said he called her right before he was killed to tell her he had met a girl he thought might be “the one.”

Tanis says it must have been some kind of intuition that was urging her to call him in Ohio at the exact moment when he was dying.

She resisted the urge, she said, not wanting to be an overbearing mother.

She now regrets not making that call.

The aftermath

All three of the Lehmanns say the pain of losing their son is one that never goes away, that they are always going to be the parents of a murdered child.

“It creates a wound on your soul,” Tanis said. “You feel like something is always missing.”

Can they ever forgive Mace?

“Never,” says Tanis.

Bruce said that after several years he did have to come to terms with his anger at Mace, saying it was destroying his life.

“I finally decided I wasn’t going to let this SOB ruin my life, too,” he said. “It doesn’t mean I forget about it. If the Ohio judicial system wants this guy back, they are welcome to him. They created him.”

Bruce said he agonized over forgiveness, and dealt with it by writing a letter to Mace. In it, he told him that if and when he’s been out of prison for five years and has not gotten into any more trouble, that’s when he’ll be able to forgive him.

Janine said she has had to accept her powerlessness and give it to God.

“I don’t know that forgiveness is a humanly possible thing,” she said. “I have, however, placed it in God’s hands.”

Tanis said that after 18 years she has had to learn to think about her son without thinking about Mace, as the two have been bound together by the act of one man killing the other.

“Now it’s all coming back,” Tanis said.

“It came back with a vengeance,” Janine said.

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