The son of a Utah doctor found guilty of murdering his cancer researcher ex-wife has revealed how he used the entire of his mother's inheritance money to fight for his father to be convicted. Paediatrician John Brickman Wall from Salt Lake City in the US was sentenced to 15 years to life for killing Uta von Schwedler.
Prosecutors representing their son Pelle Wall proved that the father had murdered his wife attacking her with a knife, dosing her with the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and drowning her in her own bathtub. Defence attorneys for the accused had claimed that von Schwedler had killed herself.
The son questioned the account of suicide his father have him and his three siblings, leading to the court case. It was revealed that the German-born scientist had moved on with her life finding a new boyfriend following her split with Wall, indicating a bright future and throwing the suicide verdict into question. It was also revealed in court that just weeks before her death von Schwedler had made a breakthrough discovery in her research into childhood leukaemia.
On the day before his 18th birthday in January 2012, Pelle moved out of the family home and into the house of a friend Jessica Oglesby, leaving his siblings behind. "I realised that my presence there was not protecting my siblings. Once I had that realisation and I moved out, then I could take active steps to protect them," he told CBS's 48 Hours current affairs programme.
After moving out of the family home, he then fought for custody of his siblings and eventually won. His siblings, children from the marriage, were all taken in by family friends.
Pelle told the programme that even when his father had murdered his mother he still felt afraid of him. "Part of the reason I was concerned for my safety as well as my sibling's safety was that I saw this anger that he had towards my mother. It didn't die with her. It jumped and it expanded," he said.
His father had attempted to sue him possession of a series of family scrapbooks – one that had been found next to von Schwedler's body. Pelle countered his father's legal challenge over the scrapbooks by preparing a wrongful death suit, accusing his father of being involved in the death of his mother. This led to the murder trial and his father's guilty verdict. Despite the jail sentence, the father has refused to confess to his wife's murder.