Even in the cold darkness of twilight, three siblings felt something Friday they hadn’t felt for nearly two years: Warmth. Togetherness. Home.
The Wall children — whose father sits in jail, accused of murdering their mother in her Salt Lake City home two years ago — stood arm-in-arm Friday evening as old friends and new family took turns speaking about their mother, Uta von Schwedler.
They recalled Uta the friend. Uta the scientist. Uta the mother, the outdoor lover and the quirky German woman who turned heads as she walked around the University of Utah campus or her Sugar House neighborhood.
"She had a lot of will," said friend Andrea Brickey. "A lot of personality."
The tone was bittersweet — remembering the good and the funny about a woman who met a tragic end.
Von Schwedler, 49, was found dead in an overflowing bathtub of ice-cold water in her Sugar House home on Sept. 27, 2011. She had a scrapbook lying atop her and a knife under her body.
For months, authorities struggled to determine whether it was murder or suicide. Eventually, police arrested her ex-husband John Wall, a local pediatrician, and charged him with murder.
Nils Abramson, von Schwedler’s boyfriend who found her the day she died, spoke about how much has changed since they last came together to honor von Schwedler.
"A year ago, we worried about the case, about whether the truth would ever come out, about the safety of Uta’s children," Abramson said. "But the direction has certainly changed."
On Friday, it seemed, there was little worry about.
There were no more custody suits — the Wall children all live with and are in the care of family friends Amy and John Oglesby.
There no questions about where the case will go from here — John Wall is scheduled to appear in 3rd District Court on Tuesday for a hearing where a judge will determine if Wall should stand trial.
"I wouldn’t say today is a happy day," Abramson said. "It’s still hard. We still miss her. She’s still gone. But there’s an acknowledgement that I think we all feel of how hard we’ve worked and what has come of that. Above all, that her kids are safe."
Pelle Wall, the eldest of von Schwedler’s children, said there are days he feels like he hasn’t seen his mother forever. So much has happened. So much has changed.
But then, he said, there are times when he feels like not a moment has past. Like he can still hear her laugh or sense her coming down the stairs to bring him ice cream.
Like he can still hear her voice, guiding him through the unfamiliar landscape of life without his mom. •
• ‘Joy for life’
The first time Andrea Brickey saw Uta von Schwedler, the renowned AIDS researcher was strutting around the U of U campus carrying a newborn child, and wearing bright leggings, a flowing skirt and flower-printed combat boots. Even now, Brickey said, she can see her friend’s vivid red hair blowing recklessly in the wind.
"She was this small, petite woman in a funky outfit with such an obvious joy for life," Brickey said. "That was Uta. And that spirit, that fight to live, is in her kids."
Most visibly, she said, that spirit lives on in von Schwedler’s oldest son.
Pelle Wall, who has been thrust into the national media spotlight in the time since his mother’s death, has fought his father for custody of his three younger siblings and vocalized his doubts about his father’s claims of innocence.Next Page >
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