SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Salt Lake City pediatrician was arrested and charged Thursday with the 2011 killing of his ex-wife, whose body was found in an overflowing bathtub with a knife stuck in her.
John Brickman Wall, 49, was charged with murder and aggravated burglary in the death of Uta Von Schwedler, also 49, a biologist at the University of Utah.
Police called the death suspicious when it occurred in September 2011 but no charges were filed at the time.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Thursday there wasn’t a single piece of evidence that finally led to the charges.
Instead, he said, a combination of factors played a role, including DNA evidence under the victim’s fingernails that didn’t rule out Wall; the fact that von Schwedler died in part due to an overdose of Xanax but didn’t have a prescription and was not depressed; and Wall’s inability to explain his whereabouts the night of her death.
“It was a multiple set of facts that came together to create the mosaic that allowed us to cross that threshold to press these charges,” Gill said.
Wall was being held on $1.5 million bail. His attorney, G. Fred Metos, said Wall maintains his innocence.
The family of the victim welcomed news of the arrest and thanked police.
“The arrest of John Wall for the murder of Uta von Schwedler is a long-awaited moment for those who loved Uta in their quest for justice,” Margaret Olson, an attorney for their 19-year-old son Pelle Wall, said in a statement.
The couple had been involved in a bitter custody battle after divorcing in 2005. Pelle Wall testified at a custody hearing that he was so afraid of his father when he was living with him that he slept with a pellet gun and a knife. The couple has three other children.
Charging documents indicate police interviewed about 30 people while investigating the killing.
They found blood stains and overturned objects in the victim’s bedroom. The back door had been unlocked, prosecutors say, and a key was missing from its hiding place.
In addition, a family friend told police John Wall was driving in the area at about 7 a.m. on the day of the killing.
Authorities also noted that John Wall had written his mother a prescription for 30 Xanax tablets in May 2011 and filled the prescription himself.
Following an interview with police, the documents state, John Wall told a friend, “Only a monster would do what was done to Uta. If it was me, I don’t remember.”
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