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Son of dead mother asks court to remove siblings from father's house

Man has made bizarre statements about ex-wife's death, petition states

Published: Tuesday, May 1 2012 12:11 p.m. MDT

The 18-year-old son of a woman at the center of a murder investigation is now asking the state to remove his siblings from his father's home until the criminal investigation into his father is completed.

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SALT LAKE CITY — The 18-year-old son of a woman at the center of a murder investigation was so afraid of his father after his mother was found dead that he slept that night with a knife and an Airsoft gun under his pillow, according to court documents.

Even today, Pelle Wall, the son of Uta von Schwedler and John Brickman Wall, remains "so fearful for his physical safety around his father he has, on occasion, armed himself with knives," according to a petition he filed in 3rd District Court saying his younger siblings are being abused and neglected by their father.

The petition also describes bizarre behavior by the woman's ex-husband, including statements he allegedly made that appear to question whether he was involved in her death.

Wall is now asking the state to remove his siblings from his father's home until the criminal investigation into his father is completed.

The court documents, filed in late April, are the latest moves in a bitter family feud that started before von Schwedler died and has continued with recent court hearings.

Wall and Von Schwedler, both researchers and doctors, were divorced in 2006. But their rancorous battle over visitation and custody of their four children continued.

On Sept. 27, 2011 — just a week after filing for a custody evaluator in court — von Schwedler's body was found in an overflowing bathtub. Her youngest child's photo album was found in the tub with her. When she was removed from the tub, a knife was found under her body. Blood was found in her bedroom, on the edge of a sink and windowsill in the bathroom.

The medical examiner listed her cause of death as drowning. But the manner of death "could not be determined." The autopsy noted that questionable injuries also found on her body "leave some question as to the exact scenario under which her death occurred."

A high amount of Xanax was also found in von Schwedler's system, something her family said she did not have a prescription for and did not take. No Xanax bottles were found in her home, according to court records.

The autopsy left open the possibility that von Schwedler's death could have been a homicide or suicide.

Von Schwedler's family members insist her death was not a suicide. Salt Lake police said Tuesday their investigation into the death is still open and ongoing. The petition claims the focus of the investigation is on John Wall.

After von Schwedler's death, Almut von Schwedler, who lives in Australia, was appointed to be in charge of her sister's estate.

In October, Almut von Schwedler filed a motion in 3rd District Court for a guardian ad litem to be appointed for her sister's children. The request was made on behalf of Pelle Wall, who moved out of his father's house when he turned 18.

A judge denied the request in February, noting that appointing a guardian ad litem in a probate case was highly unusual. During the hearing, Pelle Wall sat at one table with his father at another. The courtroom was packed for the hearing, with 99% in attendance there to show support for Pelle.

Now Pelle Wall, in new court documents says his siblings, who still live with his father, are "suffering physical, emotional or development injury or damage." The siblings are 16, 13 and 11.

At times, the children have been left without adequate food or transportation, the petition states. The siblings have even resorted to hoarding food in their backpacks. At times, the house has allegedly been filthy, including a time in December when there was dog feces all over the basement.

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