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DA, police, meet to discuss U. scientist's death

Published: Thursday, Oct. 4 2012 12:57 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Police and representatives from the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office sat down Wednesday to talk about the investigation into the death of Uta von Schwedler.

Though no decisions were made, the event was significant in that it marked the first time the two departments had gotten together to talk about what evidence had been collected.

Von Schwedler, a 49-year-old University of Utah scientist, was found dead in an overflowing bathtub in her home on Sept. 27, 2011. Her cause of death was determined by the medical examiner to be drowning.

Because of many suspicious circumstances found in the home and during her autopsy, the manner of her death — whether it was homicide or suicide — could not be determined.

Many of von Schwedler's friends and family members, including her sister and her oldest son, 18-year-old Pelle Wall, believe she was murdered by her ex-husband, John Brickman Wall, who is Pelle's father.

Two billboards were put up in September in Salt Lake City with von Schwedler's picture and the words, "Help solve the mystery of my death."

A vigil to mark the one-year anniversary of her death was held two weeks ago in front of her house. Her two youngest children, however, were not allowed to attend.

The children are currently under protective custody while the investigation into their father continues. The children, ages 13 and 11, were reportedly told by their guardians ad litem that they could not attend.

However, all four siblings were allowed to go on a hike earlier in the day. The hike, according to friends, was the same one they went on with their mother just 30 hours prior to her death.

Before her death, John Brickman Wall and von Schwedler were locked in a bitter custody battle regarding their four children. They were divorced in 2006.

Since her death, there have continued to be numerous court hearings regarding custody of the children, management of her estate, as well as complaints from family members alleging they have not been allowed to have contact with the children.

Pelle Wall petitioned the courts to have his siblings removed from his father's house until the investigation into his mother was completed.

The children were removed from their father's house after an undisclosed custody agreement was reached.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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