Chapel Peace Schmucker gained worldwide popularity upon being featured on television as the wife of Andrew Schmucker, thanks to whom she married into the Amish community. What made her a rather peculiar addition to the mix was the fact that Chapel herself was, at least up until the point of marriage, a regular modern woman of the 21st century. This was later made all the more abundantly clear by the infamy that followed her into the spotlight.
She and Andrew initially reached popularity by appearing in “Breaking Amish” in 2013, a year after it launched on TLC. It follows the lives of young adults from Amish and Mennonite communities who decided to leave their strict religious upbringing behind, and experience life in New York City. The show quickly became a hit among viewers, with its unique premise and compelling cast members.
At first it included four Amish individuals – Abe, Kate, Rebecca and Jeremiah – and one Mennonite – Sabrina. The series focused on the group’s experiences as they navigated life in the big city, away from their families and the strict religious rules they grew up with. They had to adapt to new cultural norms, such as dating, drinking, and working in non-farming industries.
One of the most captivating aspects of “Breaking Amish” was the exploration of the tension between the characters’ desire for freedom and the potential consequences of leaving their communities. The decision to do so was never an easy one, as it often led to ostracism from one’s family and long-time friends. The show addressed this issue and the challenges that come with leaving a closed religious community in great detail.
The first season ended with the cast members making decisions about whether to return home or stay in the city. Later down the line, some of the cast members reintegrated into their communities and continued to be featured on the screen, but in an altogether different TV series – the spin-off that outperformed its parent entitled “Return to Amish.” It started just as “Breaking Amish” came to a closeat the end of its third season in 2014, with seven of its own installments to date.
As is the case with any reality TV show, “Breaking Amish” too had its monstrous share of awkward conversations and intense feelings. While garnering a greater audience, this also caused some viewers to criticize the show for exploiting the cast members, and perpetuating stereotypes about Amish and Mennonite communities. Others questioned the authenticity of most of the dramatic events, with rumors that some cast members had already left their communities before filming began.
Regardless of the potential discrepancies, it’s undeniable that “Return to Amish” remains a significant cultural touchstone and a reminder of the ongoing tension between individual freedom and religious community values. At its time, it was a groundbreaking TV project that captivated many around the world, exploring the rarely televised phenomenon of building individuality on the foundations of a hive-mind childhood.
Riding an unsteady wave
As “Breaking Amish” died down and it stars crossed over into the spin-off, Chapel and Andrew actually stayed away from the spotlight throughout the first season, and there are many theories as to why. Some fans are of the opinion that she was simply struggling with drug-related issues, which later became public knowledge.
However, there isn’t enough evidence to fully support this claim, as many believe that she was actually clean around 2014, which would indicate that something else kept her and Andrew from appearing in front of the camera. Others theorize that they simply needed a break from the entertainment industry, and time to themselves, which will remain an option until the couple clear up the suspicions.
Regardless, they did join the second season of “Return to Amish,” and the issues also started right away. It was revealed throughout the season that Andrew had to serve jail time due to violating his probation by failing a drug test. While definitely an uncomfortable situation for the Schmuckers, it surely made for interesting television, and TLC made sure to put it on full display for the audiences.
Chapel can be seen calling Andrew and inquiring about his whereabouts, in a slow, confused gait. Her husband explains that he’s in Jefferson County Jail, awaiting further legal proceedings that would determine the length of his reinvigorated sentence. As a result, he was jailed indefinitely until an official court hearing was conducted, which was at the time not even scheduled, all this while in the middle of the season.
Naturally, Chapel spoke with defeat in her voice, and mentioned how she’s being left completely alone in all of the obligations they were meant to attend to as a couple. The situation was so serious that Andrew told her he hopes she’d be there whenever he’s out of jail, implying that it could very well take years.
In that case, however, Chapel would have to abandon the show, or become a full-fledged Amish woman herself and take another husband. All of that is much easier said than done, especially for someone who has a past full of drug-related incidents and petty crime. In fact, it was the presence of people like Chapel and Andrew that made the broader Amish community feel disrespected by TLC.
Chapel made sure to clarify to the camera crew that she only ever wanted the best for Andrew, and part of that was letting him make individual decisions, and thus achieve success that is completely his own, but alas, explaining that he ended up making all the wrong choices.
— Return to Amish (@ReturnToAmish) May 25, 2015
Tragic as that may be, with Chapel’s slight speech impediment brought on by long-term use of hard drugs, sealed this moment as one of the most iconic in the entire series, since it’s practically unheard of that anyone in the Amish community struggles with modern-day narcotics, as they wouldn’t even be able to access them in the first place.
Andrew, however, picked up some bad habits after leaving his ancestral home in “Breaking Amish,” coming across Chapel along the way, who was already struggling with various kinds of opiates herself. It’s thus no surprise that many fans of the show exclusively blame the wife in this scenario, while the Amish who are aware of the situation have no sympathy for Chapel either.
Knowing this herself, Chapel asked him what she’s supposed to do all on her own, asking whether to even inform his mother, who is Amish through and through, suggesting that she would probably blame her for everything and like her even less.
Andrew had no advice to offer her on the matter, and simply asked for a lawyer. At the very end, he said ‘I love you’ in Pennsylvanian Dutch, the native language of the Amish. Chapel spoke it right back, and the phone call ended on a rather low note.
It’s moments like these that made the young Schmuckers really stand out, allowing them to at least earn a decent income from their time on screen. The financial incentive is sure to have made their struggle easier, but it simply wasn’t enough on its own to keep them in the run alongside the other cast members.
Crumbling into oblivion
After a rather tumultuous 2015, which saw the second season of “Return to Amish” play out and bare the skeletons that the Schmuckers had in their closet, the following year would hammer the last nail in their coffin.
First of all, 25 July 2015 became a rather fateful day for the two, as Chapel would commit the mistake of a lifetime while her husband was already in jail. She was found to be in possession of stamp bags of heroin, numerous syringes to inject it, and illegally obtained Valium, which she had no prescription for.
REALITY STAR ARRESTED:According to online court dockets, Chapel Peace, also known as Chapel Schmucker of the TLC show …
Posted by WJAC-TV News on Monday, July 27, 2015
She was thus charged with two counts of the misdemeanor of possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered, for the Valium, and two counts of use or possession of drug paraphernalia for the syringes. Chapel’s bail in this instance was set to $50,000 which she couldn’t afford, and was thus relocated to Jefferson County Jail.
Things ended up better for her later in the year however, as she managed to regain her freedom on probation. 5 January 2016 rolled around just as the situation began looking up, with Chapel and her friend Ashley caught trying to trade another person’s drug-free urine to their probation officers in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
She somehow got herself out of this mess too, and still stayed out of jail. This silver lining gave the fans hope that they would see the couple back in the third season, but they were in for yet another shocker.
Pennsylvania police mounted a gigantic drug bust sting operation in late March 2016, ultimately seizing over $90,000 worth of methamphetamine, over $8,000 worth of heroin, and an additional $27,000 allegedly drug cash. Chapel was one of the 27 individuals placed under arrest at the scene, which is the last thing her supporters expected to hear, as she promised both publicly and privately that she would do everything in her power to turn the situation around.
The bust also burst the bubble of many, sealing the fate of Chapel and Andrew, as she later confirmed to her fans in Facebook comment threads that she and her husband wouldn’t be returning to the show. Their supporters at least found solace in the fact that they remained together through thick and thin, appearing to be on the path to betterment after making numerous bad decisions.
Faking a serious illness
According to starcasm.net, Chapel and Andrew had been accused by both viewers and participants of “Return to Amish” of faking Chapel’s cancer remission. Due to the nature of the illness, many were disgusted to hear such news, which gave the couple a very bad reputation.
Kate Stoltz, a fellow co-star of the TV series, wasted no time confirming the rumors that the entire cancer-related ordeal that the couple supposedly suffered through was staged, and for a monetary reason at that.
In reality, TLC is notorious for having reality TV participants re-enact whatever dramatic event occurred in their life before the filming, wanting to incorporate as much material as possible into their production, even at the cost of chronological inaccuracy and facts of the matter.
They seem to always get away with this, as the audience either doesn’t know, doesn’t care, or accuses the stars themselves of acting in bad intentions. Kate’s confirmation started off an avalanche of online drama, with Chapel and her friend Sabrina taking a stand against the very idea that any of that was fake to begin with.
Sabrina was supposedly disgusted at the idea that anyone could even think to accuse a cancer patient of pretending to have the illness, calling Chapel a ‘beautiful, strong and intelligent soul.’ However, it was apparent to most people that the alleged sufferer simply had way too much energy and vigor to realistically be in a condition as terrible as had been purported.
Also, since neither Chapel nor Andrew are very skilled actors, it wasn’t that hard to recognize the classic TLC re-enactment whenever the cancer topic would come up. However, this isn’t to say that Chapel never had cancer. She did actually go through remission, but prior to the filming of the second season, at which point there were no camera crews around her.
Life after a media death
After leaving the lights of reality television, Chapel seems to have three jobs, at least according to her Facebook profile, which lists her as a line cook at Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, cashier at Jai-Alai, and shift supervisor at Denny’s.
She is still married to Andrew, whose recovery from addiction is at an unknown stage, since he barely ever posts anything and appears to be mostly offline, while his wife informs the fans of her activities from time to time, such as catching a walleye while fishing with her mother and step sister. All in all, she appears to have recovered from drug use, but it’s believed that she won’t be returning to the TV screen.