SALT LAKE CITY — A settlement in a high-profile custody battle was quickly reached Wednesday at the start of what was supposed to be a three-day trial.
Pelle Wall, 18, had asked a juvenile court judge to remove his three siblings — ages 16, 13 and 11 — from his father's home until a criminal investigation surrounding his father is completed.
Pelle's mother, Uta von Schwedler, was found dead in her bathtub on Sept. 27, 2011. Because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death — including the medical examiner not being able to determine if the death was the result of homicide or suicide — Salt Lake police are conducting a criminal investigation. Friends and family members of von Schwedler believe her ex-husband, John Brickman Wall, is the key suspect.
Wall and von Schwedler divorced in 2006, but a bitter custody battle continued until the day she was found dead.
Pelle Wall, who was living in his father's house at the time of his mother's death, said in court documents that he was "so fearful for his physical safety around his father he has, on occasion, armed himself with knives." He moved out of his father's house when he turned 18 and later filed a petition in court to have his siblings removed from the house, saying he was concerned about their safety and that they were "suffering physical, emotional or development injury or damage."
The hearing in 3rd District Juvenile Court on Wednesday was closed to the public. In a brief statement released by the court on Wednesday, it said the issue had been "resolved under terms negotiated by the parties and approved by 3rd District Juvenile Court."
The court said it would not be releasing any further information except that the next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21.
Neighbors, however, said they have not seen the children around the house for a while and believe they had already been moved out of John Wall's home to an undisclosed location.
A hearing on a separate case on a probate matter in 3rd District Court is scheduled for June 28. Von Schwedler's sister, who lives in Australia and oversees her sister's estate, said she and other family members had not been allowed to speak to the children living in Wall's home.
At the last hearing, the judge said he would wait to see how the juvenile case was resolved before making rulings in that case.