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New investigation into man whose ex-wife died mysteriously

Published May 25, 2012 10:12 am

Crime • Son believes father killed his mother; regulators curious about father's drug license.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

As Salt Lake City police work to solve the suspicious September death of a Sugar House woman, her oldest son says state regulators are now investigating her ex-husband, John Brickman Wall.

Pelle von Schwedler Wall, 18, has said he believes his father killed his mother, who was found dead in the bathtub at her home in September 2011 with a high level of Xanax in her system.

On Thursday, von Schwedler Wall said investigators from the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing are investigating his father's controlled substances license. A spokesperson for the agency could neither confirm nor deny any investigation into Wall, who is a pediatrician .

Von Schwedler Wall said he learned from police his father wrote a Xanax prescription for his grandmother, who lives in California, that was filled in Utah but never received. Earlier this week a DOPL investigator confirmed that information with him, von Schwedler Wall said.

Von Schwedler Wall filed a petition in 3rd District Juvenile Court in April aimed at removing his three siblings from the home of his father, stating they were in danger. Von Schwedler Wall moved out in January.

The court petition requests placing the three children with another family or in protective custody, at least until the investigation into his mother's death is resolved.

Von Schwedler Wall appeared in court Thursday, where 3rd District Court Juvenile Judge Charles Behrens lifted a gag order in the case. Hearings remain closed to the public. Behrens has set a June 4 hearing date and a three day trial beginning June 20.

Salt Lake City police said Thursday the case of Uta von Schwedler, 49, still is an active investigation. FBI spokeswoman Debbie Dujanovic Bertram said Thursday the FBI continues to "assist the Salt Lake City Police Department in its investigation into the death."

The von Schwedler children have been the subject of a bitter custody battle since their parents divorced in 2006. They began living exclusively with their father after their mother's death. Uta von Schwedler's body was found by her boyfriend at her house in an overflowing bathtub with a knife underneath her.

The medical examiner's office has not determined if her death was a homicide or suicide, but found the cause of death was drowning. The report stated von Schwedler's wounds "are not typical of self-inflicted wounds seen in the setting of a suicide." The wounds could be viewed as defensive injuries if the woman had been struggling with an assailant, according to the report. —

The case

Uta von Schwedler was found dead at her house in an overflowing bathtub in September 2011. She and her ex-husband were involved in a bitter custody battle since divorcing in 2006.