Despite his ongoing affair with Sandy Stewart, Schaefer considered joining the priesthood in 1964. He applied to St. John's Seminary and was promptly rejected. As he recalled the incident, "They said I didn't have enough faith. I didn't think it was fair." After years of daily Mass attendance, Schaefer decided that he had been "under a certain Catholic mind control thing" and abandoned the church.
September found him at Broward Community College, where he turned in a mediocre academic performance. Schaefer spent more time hunting in the Everglades, and his relationship with Sandy soon felt more like therapy than romance. Schaefer poured out angry, tearful revelations of his urge to kill the women who aroused him—like neighbor Leigh Hainline, who stripped before an open bedroom window, or another who dared to sunbathe in her own backyard. Sandy witnessed violent clashes between Schaefer and his father, listened to his tales of girlfriend Cindy and her rape games. Finally fed up, she ended the relationship. Schaefer pined and stalked her while she dated other boys, before he finally gave up.
Next, Schaefer confessed his homicidal urges to his creative writing teacher, who in turn referred him to the college's counselor. Schaefer told Dr. Neal Crispo he wanted to join the army, because he "would like to kill things. I even like to shoot at cows now." There was more to it than simple sniping, though. He had begun to kill livestock, beheading the animals with a machete before he raped their carcasses.
Back at school in the autumn of 1965, Schaefer completed one semester before leaving to travel with Sing-Out 66, the musical road troupe of the super-patriotic "Moral Rearmament" movement. Future movie star Glenn Close was part of the chorus, but Schaefer preferred Boston native Martha Fogg. They dated that summer, Schaefer planning to join the group's European tour, but he was sidelined by measles and lost touch with Fogg, returning to college in September of the following year.
Schaefer graduated in 1967 with an associate degree in business administration. He entered Florida Atlantic University in January 1968, seeking a teaching certificate. His grades failed to support a student deferment, and Schaefer was ordered to report for his army physical in April 1968. Instead, he left a suicide note in his dorm room and fled. Roommate Jerry Webster found him at their favorite shooting range, Schaefer admitting that "he did it to help him get the deferment." Dr. Raymond Killinger referred Schaefer for emergency psychiatric testing on May 17, 1968. The test revealed no suicidal urges, but found that his "psychological disorganization is severe and his frustration level low." Nothing supports Schaefer's later claim that he wore women's underwear to beat the draft, but he did receive a "1-Y" deferment for "mental, moral or physical" reasons. No one from FAU recalls him cross-dressing, though Schaefer insisted he "was very open about it." The draft-dodge claim surfaced only after police searched his mother's home in 1973 and found snapshots of Schaefer dressed in lingerie.
Meanwhile, the 22-year marriage of his parents was falling apart. Gerard Sr. had been drinking heavily for years, seeing other women on the side. In May 1968 he lost his sales job and things went from bad to worse. Doris filed for divorce on July 2 and her husband moved out. Schaefer promptly quit his construction job and embarked on a hunting trip to Michigan. He returned to Florida accompanied by Sing-Out's Martha Fogg and startling news of their engagement. The two married in December 1968.
The newlyweds moved in with Schaefer's mother and began attending Florida Atlantic University in January 1969. Schaefer was assigned as a student teacher at Plantation High School on February 27, but he soon ran into trouble. Persistent efforts to "impose his moral and political views on the students" alarmed staff members, and Plantation's principal removed him a few weeks later, citing Schaefer's "totally inappropriate behavior."
Jobless for several months thereafter, Schaefer idled at home or in the 'Glades, but his mind was working overtime. He brooded on his failure as a priest and teacher. Increasingly, Schaefer found himself "convinced that indecent women and prostitutes should be destroyed for the welfare of society."
And who was better suited for the job?