A judge has granted custody of two children to a man whose wife died under suspicious circumstances.
Third District Juvenile Court Judge Charles Behrens issued a ruling Friday that will return the youngest children, ages 12 and 13, to 49-year-old John Brickman Wall's home, said court spokeswoman Nancy Volmer. A 17-year-old daughter will remain at an unspecified home elsewhere, Volmer said.
Wall's wife, University of Utah biologist Uta von Schwedler, 48, was found dead in a bathtub of her Sugar House home on Sept. 27, 2011. A knife was found under the body, and there was blood in her bedroom, at the edge of the bathroom sink and on a window sill, the autopsy report stated.
Police obtained a warrant to search Wall's car and house and noted in an affidavit that Wall had scratches and one of his eyes was bleeding internally when police officers spoke to him after his ex-wife's death.
No charges have been filed in connection with the death.
Pelle von Schwedler Wall, 19, has said he believes his mother was killed by his father. He filed a petition in 3rd District Juvenile Court in April aimed at removing his three younger siblings from this father's custody. In June, the court and family reached an agreement that removed the children then ages 16, 13 and 11 from Wall's home.
All four of Wall and Uta von Schwedler's children had been subjects of a custody battle following the couple's 2006 divorce.
Volmer wrote in an email that the plan to return the children to their father will "ensure protections are in place and the Guardian ad Litem will take an active role to ensure the best interests of the children are met."
Behrens also denied a motion by Pelle von Schwedler Wall to have his father undergo a psychological evaluation. Volmer said Behrens noted there was not enough evidence that such an evaluation was necessary.
Volmer said because the case deals with child custody, the court cannot discuss the basis for Behrens' decision. A gag order also prohibits Wall and Pelle von Schwedler Wall from discussing it. The Friday hearing lasted nearly an entire day and included testimony from mental health professionals and the police department. A review hearing is scheduled for May 8.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has said his homicide team has met with and advised Salt Lake City police, who continue to investigate Uta von Schwedler's death.
Twitter: @cimcity The following is a letter the boyfriend of Uta von Schwedler sent to Sen. Jim Dabakis D-Salt Lake City
Dear Representative Dabakis, On this anniversary of the Powell
Childrens death I and many others are requesting your attention and
February 5, 2013
Representative Jim Dabakis,
My name is Nils Abramson I am writing you with a request that you be
involved in the protection of children in Salt Lake City, who are in a
similar situation to that of the Powell Children. Here in Salt Lake a
murder/homicide was perpetrated 16 months ago. The victim Uta von
Schwelder was my girlfriend at the time. The homicide investigation
is still ongoing and the only suspect is her ex-husband and the father
of Uta's 4 children.
The case has been long and difficult for the children. A Petition
was filed in juvenile court by the oldest son Pelle von Schwedler Wall
(who is now 19) seeking protection for his three minor siblings. But
the law is very limited as far as what can be done. Pelle moved out
of his father's house 3 months after his mother's death and a day
before he turned 18. Pelle von Schwedler Wall has since filed a
wrongful death lawsuit directly accusing his father of killing the
children's mother. A copy of that lawsuit is attached to this letter.
As a parent, and after following this case, and being close to Uta's
family and her children I do believe that more consideration should
have been given when deciding custody and placement of the minor
children who are connected to such a crime. If the Utah laws do
in-fact favor parents' rights over the safety and best interest of the
children then somehow we need to get adequate information from police
to judges and / or to DCFS in regards to how the court and Guardian Ad
Litem should proceed with what is "best" for the children.
I do not live in your district but am asking you for your help with
this very important situation that could end up as legislation that
could over time save a child's life. Please consider developing
legislation, or adopting the Charlie/Braden Powell Act or some form of
it for the protection of children in these situations.
Thank you for your consideration,
Nils G. Abramson, LCSW