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Salt Lake City man sues son over wife's scrapbooks

Published November 20, 2012 9:22 am

Courts • Police have begun an investigation into woman's death.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Months after his 18-year-old son accused him of murdering his ex-wife, a Salt Lake City man has sued the son for possession of scrapbooks made by the woman for her children.

John Brickman Wall, 48, a pediatrician — who earlier this year was at the center of a child custody dispute initiated by the son, Pelle Wall — has filed a civil lawsuit in 3rd District Court against his son and his ex-wife's sister, who manages her sister's estate.

Uta von Schwedler, 49, was found dead in her Sugar House home on Sept. 27, 2011. The couple divorced in 2006 and had a bitter custody dispute with various domestic violence allegations, according to court documents.

As part of the divorce agreement "all family photo albums, negatives, videos and memorabilia reflecting the parties' shared marital life shall be joint property of the parties," the lawsuit filed Nov. 16 states. At the time von Schwedler died, she possessed four albums, one for each child.

The lawsuit requests Pelle Wall and Almut von Schwedler to stop copying the scrapbooks and return the albums and any copies made to John Wall. Court records state the four photo albums should be returned immediately to John Wall and no copies are to be made, otherwise he "will be irreparably harmed" because the albums are priceless memorabilia that can't be replaced. John Wall is also seeking damages for time and money expended on his pursuit for the scrapbooks and punitive damages.

Almut von Schwedler recovered the albums from the home after her sister's death, the lawsuit states, but has refused to turn the photo albums over to John Wall with an "intent to defraud" him.

The suit states that one of the albums is in the possession of Salt Lake City police as part of a pending investigation into Uta von Schwedler's death. Because she is dead, Wall argues in his lawsuit, the remaining albums should be returned to his possession.

Von Schwedler was found by her boyfriend, Nils Abramson, in an overflowing bathtub of ice cold water with a scrapbook lying on top of her and a knife under her body. Abramson has previously said the photo album in the tub was one of four albums — one for each child — that were "Uta's pride and joy."

Abramson said possession of the albums also was a "bone of contention in [von Schwedler's] divorce."

Since von Schwedler's death, Salt Lake City police have opened an investigation into what they call the "suspicious" death of the biologist and HIV researcher who worked at the University of Utah. So far there have been no suspects named.

Over the summer, police obtained a search warrant for John Wall's car and removed sections of carpet. Last month, police seemed to be making some outward progress after a confirmation that the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office would be screening the case at the end of October for possible criminal charges. But police haven't met back with the D.A.'s office with the information requested for a formal screening to take place.

cimaron@sltrib.com

Twitter: @CimCity