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Detectives and prosecutors meet to discuss death of Sugar House woman

Published October 4, 2012 6:09 pm

Courts • Charges will be considered in coming weeks.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Police met with prosecutors to discuss the case of University of Utah biologist Uta von Schwedler on Wednesday, more than a year after her body was found in a bathtub.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said this was the first time Salt Lake City police had met with his prosecutors to formally discuss von Schwedler's suspicious death. Gill said they had a "good, productive meeting" and plan to meet again in a couple weeks after police finish investigating. Then Gill's office plans to consider criminal charges.

"They came and shared what they had with us and wanted to have a meeting with our homicide unit," Gill told The Salt Lake Tribune Thursday. "The purpose was to just share information that they had and for us to share our impressions."

Uta von Schwedler, 49, was found dead at her Sugar House home in an overflowing bathtub on Sept. 27, 2011, with a knife under her back and Xanax in her system. Family has said she did not have a prescription for that medication.

She and her ex-husband, John Brickman Wall, had been involved in a custody battle since divorcing in 2006. In early 2012, the couple's oldest son, Pelle von Schwedler Wall, 18, accused his father of murder and petitioned Utah's juvenile court to have his three younger siblings taken away from their dad. Police have since seized carpet samples from Wall's car. But he has never been called a suspect or a person of interest in the case. The manner of death was classified as undetermined.

Those who knew von Schwedler say there is no way it was a suicide, and they believe she was murdered.

Nils Abramson, von Schwedler's boyfriend, said the news of the case progressing makes him optimistic after a year of no suspects being named.

"I'm very happy," Abramson said."[Criminal charges] will bring some closure to some people."

Meanwhile, von Schwedler and Wall's two minor children remain in the custody of friends of the family. Pelle von Schwedler Wall's petition for his siblings is ongoing in juvenile court.

Friends of von Schwedler have created a website, justiceforuta.com, and paid for billboards put up in September asking for tips in the case. They also held a vigil in her memory on the one-year anniversary of her death that Pelle von Schwedler Wall and his 17-year-old sister attended.

Abramson said the two youngest children, still part of the juvenile court case, were not allowed to attend the vigil at the request of their father. Wall's criminal attorney, Fred Metos, appeared on HNL's cable channel show "Nancy Grace" to defend his client Thursday along with family of von Schwedler who discussed how they think she died.

cimaron@sltrib.com

Twitter: @CimCity