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

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

Wall went to work with a bad eye injury on the day von Schwedler's body was found, according to a search warrant. He was told to leave work to get his eye checked, but instead went to a car wash business.

Employees there told detectives that Wall seemed "agitated and acted strangely," the warrant states. He told them to clean a 3-by-6-inch pink colored stain on the carpet behind the driver's seat.

Pelle Wall said in court documents that when he and his siblings awoke early on the morning of Sept. 27, their father and his car were not at home. Later that afternoon, the son "observed a scratch across Dr. Wall's eye and blood in the conjunctiva," court records state.

When Pelle Wall filed a petition in court to have his siblings removed from his father's house, he revealed that he was so fearful of his father after his mother's death that he slept with a knife under his pillow.

More questioning

After John Wall was questioned the first time by police, he returned home that night and "his demeanor was frightening," his son said in the petition. "He rocked back and forth, cried, and was emotionally out of control, crying, 'I want my mom.'"

According to the petition, he further made statements to his children such as, "Am I monster?" "How am I supposed to know what I do when I'm asleep?" "What if I did it and I don't remember?"

Wall also asked his children to stay with him "so he wouldn't jump," court records state. His "extreme emotional distress" continued as his children found him "laying on the bed in a fetal position making strange statements." He was eventually admitted to the University Neuropsychiatric Institute.

While visiting his father at the institute, Pelle Wall said his father made several statements about police and their investigation, including, "If they find my phone there, how can I refute that?" court records state.

Prior to her death, John Wall and von Schwedler had been involved in a bitter divorce in 2006. Wall told several people prior to von Schwedler's death that she was ruining his life and that "she was to blame for his problems," according to court records. On another occasion, Wall said he would be OK "if Uta wasn't around anymore," according to to the charges.

After von Schwedler's death, the court battles continued between the embattled Wall and members of von Schwedler's family, including his own children. When Pelle Wall turned 18, he moved out of his father's house and filed a petition to have his three siblings removed from the house until the investigation into his father was completed.

When Pelle's sister turned 17, she too moved out. The two remaining children were temporarily removed from John Wall's house in 2012, but returned in February despite a protest from von Schwedler's family.

Abramson said he and von Schwedler's sister even went to Utah lawmakers asking them to consider a bill similar to the Charlie and Braden Powell bill in Washington that called for the children of murder suspects to be removed from a home until a case is resolved.

"If somebody's a suspect, they shouldn't have their kids," he said.

Hamideh emphasized Thursday that his office never gave up on the investigation.

"A case like this is a big case. We do it methodically," he said.

And even though there was a period where there seemed to be no police action happening publicly, "this is a perfect example of no homicide is ever closed," Hamideh said. "It was never not active."

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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