Ex-husband charged with murder in death of University of Utah scientist

Published: Thursday, April 25 2013 12:05 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — For nearly two years, Pelle Wall has been convinced that his father killed his mother.

On Thursday, the 19-year-old said he "got an excellent phone call" from family friend Amy Oglesby in Salt Lake City telling him that his father, John Brickman Wall, had been charged with murder and arrested.

"I think my initial reaction was sort of disbelief," said Pelle Wall, who attends college in California.

"I had to make sure it was actually real after waiting so many months. I think it's still hitting me. It will take maybe a day or a week for it to sink in," he told the Deseret News on Thursday.

John Wall, 49, who for two years has been a person of interest in the death of his ex-wife, Uta von Schwedler, was arrested and charged in 3rd District Court with criminal homicide and aggravated burglary, both first-degree felonies. He was arrested early Thursday as he drove to work.

"Our office has never given up on this case," Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said. "And I know in a conversation with (Salt Lake City Police) Chief (Chris) Burbank nearly a year ago, he had not given up on it, neither."

Salt Lake City police detective Mike Hamideh said a traffic stop was initiated at 875 E. 900 South about 8:20 a.m. Law enforcement officers, with an arrest warrant in hand, took Wall into custody without incident.

Hamideh said investigators working with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office had planned to arrest Wall away from his home so his children were not present.

Two of Wall's children, ages 13 and 11, who were living with him at the time of his arrest, were taken into protective custody by their guardian ad litem.

After Wall's arrest, Salt Lake police executed a search warrant on his residence, 676 S. 1200 East. Wall was being held Thursday in the Salt Lake County on $1.5 million bail.

Nils Abramson, von Schwedler's boyfriend at the time of her death, happened to be driving by Wall's house as the warrant was being executed and saw the yellow police tape surrounding his house.

"I was happy. I knew that it was finally going to go down," Abramson said. "There was no other reason why they would be there unless they had arrested him and done a full search of the house. There's a lot of hiccups in the case and a lot of things that should have been done (sooner). … But I was very very happy to see it happen."

Ever since her body was found in an overflowing bathtub in her house, 1433 E. Harrison Ave. (1625 South), on Sept. 27, 2011, von Schwedler's family has been vocal about their belief that Wall was responsible for her death.

Pelle Wall, the oldest son of Wall and von Schwedler, said he immediately flew back to Salt Lake City after hearing of his father's arrest. His biggest priority, he said, was making sure his brothers and sisters were taken care of.

As for his father being charged with murdering his mother, he said it really isn't that difficult for him.

"Frankly, I don't have any sort of positive emotional connection with my father," he said. "So I'm not sad or upset or anything that he's arrested. My emotions are on the other end of the spectrum."

Oglesby, who helped Pelle Wall leave his father's house after he turned 18, concurred that the arrest was "a great big sense of relief that this day is finally here."

Her concern Thursday was also the care of von Schwedler and Wall's children.

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