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Former KC Ballet dancer stabbed, beaten to death with golf club in Minneapolis

By Jenna Barackman and Grace Smith

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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — Robert Skafte, a 66-year-old former Kansas City Ballet dancer, was killed in a Minneapolis gas station Dec. 8 after he was severely beaten and stabbed through his torso with a golf club.

Taylor Schulz, whom police said was about 100 pounds heavier than Skafte, was charged with second-degree murder with malicious intent but not premeditated. If convicted, he could spend up to 40 years in prison.

Court records indicate Schulz was civilly committed approximately three years ago for mental illness and subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia. The documents show the 44-year-old once told hospital staff that he was fearful “hallucinations would tell him to hurt someone, and he would follow through with such a command.”

Video surveillance revealed Skafte was working behind the counter of the store when Schulz entered the store, grabbed an item and then, “almost immediately” after approaching the counter, began kneeing and punching Skafte repeatedly.

When Skafte attempted to get away, Schulz dragged the victim back by his shirt and continued punching, kicking and choking the 66-year-old.

Schulz then grabbed a golf club from behind the store counter and struck the back of Skafte’s head eight times until the club’s head broke off. Then, using the broken shaft of the club, he stabbed Skafte repeatedly until he impaled him through the torso. Schulz then walked out of the store.

About a minute and a half later, a customer entered and called 911 reporting a physical assault. When EMS and officers arrived on the scene, the victim was on the ground behind the sales counter with blunt-and-sharp force trauma blows to his head and face. He succumbed to his injuries shortly after at the hospital.

A witness who worked at an apartment building across the street then told police they saw Schulz, a resident on the 16th floor of the building, run inside with blood on his face and clothing. Police went to his apartment and knocked, prompting Schulz to yell, “Go away.”

After six hours of negotiation and attempted contact, police opened the door of the apartment and took Schulz into custody.

Jody Anderson was not only Skafte’s dance partner but also his roommate.

“He was just an amazing human being,” Anderson said. “He was a beautiful dancer, an amazing partner; we did a lot of roles together in our time at the ballet. He kind of became my third brother.”

Anderson said when she heard what happened to him, she was stunned.

“For something so tragic to happen to happen to an amazing person, it’s just unbelievable to me,”

Skafte danced and trained at the Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica, California, in the early 1980s before dancing professionally with the Kansas City Ballet for 10 years. He then moved to Minneapolis, where he danced with the Ballet of the Dolls theater company.

While dancing in Kansas City, he starred in multiple productions including “A La Francaix” in 1991, “Chopin Piano Pieces” in 1996, “Concerto Barocco” in 1990, “Lilac Garden” in 1991, “The Four Temperaments,” and “Pastorale” in 1989.

The Kansas City Ballet issued a statement in response to Skafte’s death that read:

“It is with heavy hearts and profound sorrow that we share the devastating news of the untimely passing of former Kansas City Ballet dancer Robert Skafte, 66, a beloved member of our dance community. Robert Skafte graced the Kansas City Ballet from 1984 to 1994, under the artistic direction of Todd Bolender, before moving on to Minneapolis, where he danced with Ballet of the Dolls.

Skafte left an indelible mark on the world of dance, enchanting audiences with his extraordinary talent, grace, and passion. Those of us who remember Skafte recall that he was not only a remarkable artist but also a cherished friend, mentor, and inspiration to many.

Beyond his artistic contributions, Skafte was known for his positivity and encouragement within our dance community. He shared his knowledge generously, fostering a supportive environment for aspiring dancers and colleagues alike. His legacy extends far beyond the stage, reaching into the hearts and minds of those he touched with his artistry and kindness.

Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Skafte’s family, friends, and the entire dance community during this difficult time. We are grateful for the beauty he brought into our lives and the legacy he left behind.”

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