Father and Son

To some, the untimely death of Uta von Schwedler appeared to be a suicide -- to her teenage son it was murder and he was determined to prove it

Father and Son
Father and Son 42:00

Produced by Josh Gelman, Avi Cohen and Bill Kerig

The majestic mountains high above Salt Lake City have been a playground for 19-year-old Pelle Wall and his family since his childhood.

"September 25, 2011, was -- one of the ... last days of my mom's life ...We were up there camping ... We loved to get out in the outdoors. My mom was always pushing when we were young, taking us out on hikes," Pelle told "48 Hours" correspondent Susan Spencer.

"It was a beautiful day... I think the leaves may have been changing ... just gorgeous," he continued. "We have a picture with all of us, you know, the whole group all together."

Pelle Wall's treasured photo from September 2011.Pelle is second from left; Uta is far right. Pelle Wall

He treasures that picture from September 2011. It was the last time he and his mother, Uta von Schwedler, ever would be in these mountains together.

"I definitely feel that that is a special place. You know, that's one of the last places I was with her. It's-- it's beautiful. And, so, I do feel that there's some sort of, like, special connection up there on the peak," said Pelle.

Two years later, Pelle, his younger brother and sister, and family friends, gathered to celebrate her life. The gathering offered comforting words, but little real consolation as was clear when Pelle read a message from his brother, Liam, remembering their mother.

"One day I was saying see you soon ... and the next day my life was flipped upside down with the police on my doorstep. No one knew if it was a suicide, an accidental death or a homicide," Pelle read.

"For a very long time I-- I just could not process it. It was really traumatizing," Pelle told Spencer.

One person who was not on hand to recall those dark days -- Uta's ex-husband and father of their children, Johnny Wall.

"When I was very small, I -- we actually lived in Malibu ... right next to the Walls. And we played in the sand together," said Klaus Fiebig.

Now living in Toronto, Fiebig first met Johnny Wall as a child.

"Is it stretching a point to say that he was like a brother to you?" Spencer asked Fiebig.

"Yes. We really became tight," he replied.

Years later, while in grad school, Fiebig introduced Johnny to Uta, who had moved to California from her home in Germany to study biology.

"And it clicked with them and they became a couple. And I thought, 'What a wonderful thing,' where -- you have two good friends and you introduce them and it works," he said.

Johnny Wall and Uta von Schwedler in 1990. Pelle Wall

And it did work, at least for a while. Five years after they married in California, the couple moved to Salt Lake City, 1-year-old Pelle in tow. Both Johnny and Uta had jobs at the University of Utah Medical Center -- he as a resident in pediatrics and she as a research scientist studying HIV.

"One of her papers had been ... actually recognized as one of the most - I -- I think it was the 30 most prominent HIV papers in the last 30 years," said Pelle.

Biomedical researchers Heidi Schubert and Orly Ardon met Uta during her early days in the labs.

"We had this chemistry. You know, she looked at me, I looked at her," Ardon recalled, "and that's it, we -- we were friends."

"She was passionate about learning a lot of stuff and just being involved. I mean, it -- it wasn't -- she was always, like, calling you up, 'Hey, do you want to go to the reading of that play? Do you want to go to the dance performance? Do you want to go to concert?'" said Schubert.

But her true passion was her four kids.

"She was a combination of a soccer mom and -- a working mom. She would run from the lab home on her bike, get into the car and drive the kids to a soccer game ... run back, take another kid to wherever they needed," said Ardon.

Dr. Wall was busy as well, building his practice as an extremely well-liked and well-respected pediatrician.

"He was a fabulous pediatrician," said Wendy Wall, Johnny's older sister. "His patients loved him."

Wendy remembers how excited her brother was to be a father.

"I think nothing in his life made him happier than being a dad. He's someone who just loves kids," she said.

It was, on the surface, a perfect family. Beneath the surface, it was a very different story.

"I think there were a lot of issues -- a lot having to do with us children," said Pelle.

"I know that all the kids struggled with their mother. It wasn't this, you know, I mean, Uta was a lovely person, but she could be really awful at times too," said Fiebig.

"Your father alleged that she was physically abusing the children," Spencer noted to Pelle.

"She had disciplined us from time to time. I had been hit when I was younger. But it was something that was when I was very young -- and not something that continued," he said.

"I think Uta is somebody who very much loved her children, but I also think she really, really wrestled with maternal responsibilities and with being a mom," said Wendy Wall.

In fact, years later, Uta would end up in family court several times, once accused of actually biting her youngest son.

"How the story goes, I suppose, is that my brother, Liam, was on top of the -- her car. And she -- my mother was trying to get him down. And somehow she had bitten him," Pelle explained.

Uta always denied it, but did go for court ordered counseling. But the marriage was in trouble long before that.

"Johnny told us that Uta was having an affair. She was having an affair with another scientist in Germany. And he was obviously very upset about this," said Wendy.

"The question of this affair was something that my dad did bring up regularly," said Pelle.

"I think that was very, very tough for Johnny," said Fiebig.

And it only got worse when, in 2006, Uta ended the marriage, leaving behind her four children, ages 5 to 12.

"Ultimately Uta walked out. She had an affair with somebody else ... and she walked out on Johnny and her kids," said Wendy.

"I recall being told that she was moving out and being very upset by it. But I do very distinctly remember thinking that it was not for the worst that -- that they were splitting up," said Pelle.

"There was no court involvement in this case at all. There was no -- no judge made -- an adjudication of what custody form ought to be," Howard Lundgren, an attorney for Dr. Wall, said. "They decided that the children would reside with Johnny most of the time. ... I think the theory was that it would be a flexible arrangement. Those are, in my experience, hard to make work."

In this case, it didn't. Rising tensions soon would become the backdrop for tragedy.


"I've always considered myself a happy person. Of course, ups and downs, you know, it was hard times, happy times. But I'd say on the whole, I'm-- I'm very happy," Pelle Wall told Susan Spencer.

A real achievement for Pelle, given his family history: a perfect storm of abuse charges, family fights, and, finally, divorce.

"My defense mechanism for myself is looking at everything as dispassionately as I can, so not trying to get super emotionally involved," Pelle explained.

Apparently, it worked. Despite his volatile home life, Pelle excelled in school.

"I got a 4.0 G.P.A. So I had all A's. And I was awarded academic all-state for soccer -- my senior year," he said.

Margaret Olson is a lawyer in Salt Lake City and a family friend.

"The kids lived in a pretty compartmentalized world," Olson explained. "It was either mom's time or dad's time. It was not a healthy co-parenting relationship."

"After the divorce we spent most of our time with my father," Pelle told Spencer. "It was probably a couple times a week switching between houses -- which was very stressful. It's something that we hated doing. None of us wanted to do it."

"But it sounds on the other hand as if they were struggling to do something that was fair," Spencer noted.

"My dad very much wanted us to spend time with my mom, which was very good," said Pelle.

But Dr. Wall's good will didn't last very long.

"As he became more confrontational with my mother I think -- I really -- I viewed him less and less as -- as a good father," said Pelle.

The conflicts escalated from simply petty to downright ridiculous.

"Pelle reported that when he was at his father's home, they weren't allowed to talk about their mother," Olson said. "They weren't allowed to talk to her. It was considered to be Johnny's parent -- parenting time."

"He was frustrated with Uta. Sometimes she would -- be supposed to take the kids for a weekend or something, and she would make other plans. And -- drop them at his doorstep," said Wendy Wall.

"Every year she would take the kids to Germany," Schubert said. "A week before one of the trips, Johnny suddenly decided, 'Oh, I have to take 'em to San Diego and we might go to Mexico. I need the passports.'"

Even the family's history became a major source of dispute.

"I don't quite understand how the scrapbooks became so contentious," Pelle said. "The scrapbooks were something that my mom very much cared about."

"The scrapbooks were filled with photos that Johnny had taken. Johnny was the family photographer. And-- they were organized by Uta," Wendy explained.

"She would stay up late and just put everything in order and try to remember and write everything down," said Schubert.

"So these scrapbooks really meant something?" Spencer asked.

"Oh, yeah," Ardon replied.

"They were in the original divorce document," said Schubert.

Asked who got the scrapbooks, Schubert explained, "They were supposed to be shared back and forth. But then the first time Johnny got 'em, he never returned 'em."

"My dad used those scrapbooks to -- control her," Pelle explained. "'I'm not gonna give you the passports unless you let me have the scrapbooks.' Or 'I'm not gonna give the scrapbooks back until you give me the passports' or that kind of thing."

"That's very odd," Spencer replied.

"It's very odd. It's -- it's not normal," Pelle agreed.

Their battle lasted more than five years, during which time Johnny Wall remarried and divorced again.

"You know, his wife had left him and ... so-- so that's -- his second wife had also left him, so those are difficult things. And-- and he was blaming it all on Uta," said Fiebig.

It was also in 2010 that Nils Abramson, a local therapist and social worker, began a relationship with Uta.

"It might have been the end of 2010 that ... he was giving her the years warning and he was going to move away and take the kids," Abramson explained.

An avid outdoorsman, Nils had no trouble embracing Uta's active lifestyle.

"We met skiing up in Alta -- through a dating service-- online dating service," Abramson said. "When there was an open weekend and she had the kids, it was camping in the desert, hiking in the mountains, skiing in the mountains."

And Abramson says he saw firsthand the lengths to which Johnny Wall would go to provoke his ex-wife.

"At one point he shut off his home phone," he said. "After that ... she said, 'I'll buy the kids phones.' So she bought the service for all the kids. And then he would try to interrupt that."

"In his life, the center was, 'What can I do to hurt Uta,' more than, 'What can I do to help my kids,'" said Fiebig.

But in those last months, friends say Uta was getting her life together ... just as Johnny was losing control of his.

"The household was terrible," Fiebig told Spencer. "He didn't -- he didn't have the heat on. ... Everything was messy. ... It looked like -- somebody -- a homeless person sleeping, almost."

"Really? It was that bad? You're not exaggerating?" Spencer asked Fiebig.

"No, it was very, very bad," he replied. "That was really -- that was when I really realized, 'Wow, this is getting very crazy.'"

In early 2011, Uta had had it, and went to court hoping to win primary custody of her children.

"They were pretty much hostages in this battle. And I think it got to a point in which the kids had to be taken out," said Ardon.

Finally, in September, an agreement was reached to review the children's custody arrangement.

"So she thought that there was gonna be a change here?" Spencer asked Ardon.

"I think that she thought-- she was pretty sure that things would change," she replied.

Unfortunately she was right. Five days later, everything changed.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, the kids were staying with Johnny, and Abramson and Uta looked forward to a quiet evening alone.

"I went in like I normally would and heard the water running and tapped on the door and said, 'Hello? Hello?' And opened the door and there she was under water and ...You know, I grabbed her -- grabbed her arm, pulled her out of the water part way, but as soon as I lifted her up -- she was stiff and I knew--" said Abramson.

"You didn't have any doubt," said Spencer.

"I knew she was dead," Abramson said. "I thought later, 'You know, make this all go away,' but you know, it's-- it-- it happened. You know, and there wasn't much to say after that."

On the evening of Sept. 27, 2011, Uta von Sc... 01:57

The street where Uta von Schwedler lived was teeming that night with Salt Lake City police, homicide detectives, crime scene investigators and the local media. They all had one basic question: how is it possible that a bright, vivacious, very fit 49-year-old woman could drown in her own bathtub?

"I thought she might have slipped and hit her head," said Abramson.

Investigators found no sign of a break-in and no valuables missing from the house. What they did find in the bath, along with Uta's body, was a kitchen knife and, oddly, one of those treasured photo albums -- evidence that seemed to hint at suicide.

"You know, when they suggested that, I was blown away. I mean--" said Abramson.

"As far as you're concerned, this is impossible," Spencer noted.

"Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, completely impossible," he replied.

Abramson told police there was another explanation that made a lot more sense.

"I told him everything that, you know, that I had done, that I knew about. And it's like, 'did she have any enemies?' It's like, 'well, yes, probably, her ex-husband.'"

That very night, investigators picked up Johnny Wall for questioning.

"Johnny was awakened in the middle of the night -- dragged out of bed, hauled down to the police station, told by police detectives that -- his wife was dead -- his ex-wife was dead -- and then interrogated for four hours," said Wendy Wall.

"The following morning ... my dad walks in trailed by my three siblings. And then he told me that my mother was dead and that he was a suspect," said Pelle.

Stunned by the news himself, he could hardly believe his father's reaction.

"It was -- it was out of control. He essentially started acting like an infant. You know, he's laying on my bed in the fetal position crying, saying, you know, 'I want my mommy...'" Pelle explained. "...having us, like, comfort him -- you know, a whole lot of things about, you know, 'Is this a dream? I just wanna wake up. Am I monster? Could I have done this?""

Soon Pelle decided he knew the answers to both those questions...

"I was absolutely 100 percent convinced-- that he was responsible for my mother's death," he said.


In the days after Uta von Schwedler was found dead in her bathtub, there seemed to be more questions than answers.

"I was going through the -- the different ways she could've died. Someone was like, 'Well, maybe she slipped.' And -- 'cause we didn't know anything,'" said friend Heidi Schubert.

Pelle and his mom enjoying the outdoors Pelle Wall

Uta's oldest son, Pelle Wall, 17 at the time, was in the dark as well.

"I think that was a big -- big part of the -- of the trauma was the not knowing, just having no idea what had happened," he said.

His father, apparently also traumatized, was no help. Johnny Wall spent six days after Uta's death at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute, under observation.

"Basically -- he tells the kids, after they wake up, that, you know, 'Your mother's dead. The police think I did this,'" said Salt Lake City criminal attorney Fred Metos.

Metos and family attorney Howard Lundgren both represent Johnny Wall.

"He starts having a breakdown. And they call the friends -- the kids call some friends to -- to come over," Metos continued.

"It was so overwhelming to see your parent, somebody that's supposed to be, you know, the strong figure in your life--" said Pelle.

"In a moment of total crisis," said Spencer.

"--in-- in a moment of complete crisis," said Pelle.

"You're sort of the adult in the room here," Spencer pointed out.

"I had to be," Pelle said with a laugh.

Meanwhile, cooler heads -- Uta's friends and family -- waited for answers from the investigation without much luck.

"We would ask questions, we weren't really kept informed," said Uta's boyfriend, Nils Abramson.

It was six weeks before the office of the medical examiner released Uta's autopsy report, which concluded that the cause of death was drowning. But the "manner" of death - why she drowned -- was left as "undetermined", keeping open the possibility of suicide, which apparently was Johnny Wall's theory.

"Did he tell you that this was suicide?" Spencer asked Pelle of his father.

"He did," Pelle replied." A couple times at the dinner table it came up. And he basically said that -- that your mom chose to leave you, that it was a choice that she had committed suicide."

Pelle wasn't buying it.

"As I thought about ... my dad's behavior before and after her death -- it became more and more apparent to me that -- that he was responsible for killing her," Pelle told Spencer.

Uta's body was found the night of Sept. 27, but investigators believe she died very early that morning, between 2:30 and 5 a.m.. As for what Johnny Wall was doing that morning ...

"The whole time that I was awake and home -- before I went to school he was not home," Pelle told Spencer. Asked if that was unusual, he replied, "That was unusual."

Johnny did turn up just in time to drive his younger children to school and then, at 8:30 that morning, decided to have his car washed, as seen on security tape.

"It doesn't -- from what I read, at least, he didn't strike me as somebody who was particularly meticulous about --" Spencer commented to Metos.

"He was about some things," Metos replied.

And then there was something odd that Pelle noticed when he got home from school that afternoon, before his mother had been found.

"He had this terrible scratch, you know, blood on -- on the side of his eye," said Pelle.

"This was-- a serious eye injury?" Spencer asked.

"It -- it was a serious eye injury, yeah," Pelle replied. "He said that he had been sleeping on the porch the night before and that Molly, our dog, had -- accidentally scratched him in the eye."

"Was that something that he did very often?" Spencer asked.

"This whole sleeping on the porch thing was not something I ever saw him do," Pelle replied.

"Including that night," said Spencer.

"Including that night," Pelle affirmed.

If Pelle's fears were true, then he and his siblings were now living with a murderer.

"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," Pelle explained. "Anybody that accused him of murder all of a sudden was blacklisted. And I saw that anger really springboard from my mom. It didn't die. It didn't die with her. It jumped and it expanded."

"And you really didn't feel safe," Spencer commented.

"I really didn't feel safe. This was not a superficial concern. This is 'I might die,'" said Pelle.

But Salt Lake City authorities didn't see it that way and made no effort to remove the children from their father's care. Meanwhile, the police investigation into Uta von Schwedler's death seemed to be over almost before it started.

"You firmly believe that someone took -- they took a proactive position, 'I'm gonna stop this investigation?'" Spencer asked Pelle's attorney, Margaret Olson.

"Yes," she replied.

"For what reason?"

"I don't know. It is -- one of mysteries of this case," said Olson.

"For a long time I -- I was just hoping that the police would make the arrest and that once the arrest was made then everything could move forward. The kids would be safe. I would be safe. And it didn't happen," said Pelle.

And so in January 2012, one day before his 18th birthday, Pelle Wall packed his bags and moved out of his father's house, leaving his siblings behind.

"I realized that my presence there was not protecting my siblings," he told Spencer. "And once I had that realization and I moved out then I could take active steps to protect them."

"And your father's reaction to this was?" Spencer asked Pelle.

"Nothing positive, not a positive reaction. He was extremely upset," he replied.

He sought refuge with the family of his best friend, Jessica Oglesby, whose parents, Amy and John, already had their hands full with six kids. Yet they welcomed Pelle with open arms.

"He didn't have -- he didn't have the support necessary to help him do what he really wanted to do," said Amy Oglesby.

"Which was?" Spencer asked.

"Was to have the children remove -- removed from their father's care," she replied. "He asked for my help. And I helped him."

Pelle then turned to the courts, beginning a vicious tug of war with his father over the custody of his siblings.

"We tried to get a Guardian ad Litem appointed for the kids. That didn't work. And so there was a whole lot of other motions, abuse neglect petitions..." Pelle explained.

After months of legal wrangling, Johnny Wall lost custody of his children.

"They were removed from my dad's care. And they lived with a series of essentially family friends," said Pelle.

It was a real victory for Pelle, but the war was far from over. In August 2012, Pelle, Amy Oglesby and his younger siblings, went to the airport expecting a happy reunion with their sister, back from a summer overseas. Instead, they ran into a very threatening Johnny Wall.

"Amy's standing by my side," Pelle explained. "And -- he turns to her and says, you know, 'The -- this isn't your family, like, you need to leave.'"

"He kept repeating the same thing. 'You don't know who you're messing with. You'll be sorry. Stay away from my family. This isn't your family,'" said Oglesby.

"And this is -- everybody's -- hearing this?" Spencer asked.

"The children saw it. The little children saw it," said Oglesby

"'...This is not your family. You're not welcome here,'" Spencer repeated to Pelle. "To which you reply?"

"She's my family," Pelle replied.

Having had the last word, everyone headed home, leaving Johnny Wall behind ... or so they thought.

"We're all pretty upset, and I just said, "Hey, let's just go to Jamba Juice," Oglesby said. "So, we get there. We order. Go sit down, and in walks Johnny."

"Really, the only way he would have known that we were at that Jamba was that he had followed us," said Pelle.

Apparently Johnny Wall had more to say, but this time Oglesby had the foresight to record it:

Audio: When Pelle Wall became convinced that ... 03:01

Johnny Wall: "Someday you will find out that you are actually wrong about me.

Pelle Wall: You think so?

Johnny Wall: I know so.

"In my mind I was like, 'I -- I cannot believe that I'm getting to say this right now," said Pelle.

Pelle Wall: You killed my mother.

Johnny Wall: That is also not true.

Pelle Wall: That is absolutely true.

"He let loose on his dad that day. I think he had had it,' said Oglesby.

Pelle Wall: You have to talk to her because you can't talk to me.

Johnny Wall: I can look at you Pelle and I can say...

Pelle Wall: Say it to me then.

Johnny Wall: I'm happy to say it to you. I did not kill Uta.

"Was there anything ... where you just said to yourself, 'But this is my father?'" Spencer asked Pelle of the confrontation.

"Really, at that stage, I didn't think of him as being my -- my father anymore," he replied.

Johnny Wall: Give it 20 years and you will see.

Pelle Wall: I'll give it 20 years and I'll see you behind bars.

That was the last time Pelle spoke directly to his father, but Johnny Wall kept the conversation going in the courts.

"Johnny sued Pelle for the scrapbooks that his mother made," said Oglesby.

Pelle was having none of it. He countersued for the wrongful death of his mother -- a dramatic move that, unexpectedly, helped get the murder investigation back on track.


While Pelle worked within the legal system for justice in his mother's death, Uta's family and friends went around it, demanding action in local media, social media, even outdoor advertising.

"The publicity in the papers was horrible. The billboard that they put up was horrible," said Johnny's sister, Wendy Wall.

"They were placed in very close proximity to Johnny's house," said Amy Oglesby.

"It wasn't to torment him?" Spencer asked.

"I am wondering if it did torment him. I'm sure it did," Oglesby replied.

"I do think the Friends of Uta ... that was very helpful in making sure the case wasn't forgotten," said Pelle's attorney, Margaret Olson.

But Uta's family thought the Salt Lake City police had forgotten. Her two sisters were even told at one point, mistakenly, that the case was closed. Later, the lead investigator was reassigned and that's where things stood -- apparently nowhere.

That is until Pelle did something the police were unable to do. He filed a wrongful death suit against Johnny Wall, publically holding his father responsible for the death of his mother.

"The civil wrongful death suit was actually a counterclaim to my father's photo album lawsuit. So he sued me for the photo albums that my mom had made for each one of us. And it was -- it was in response to that lawsuit," Pelle explained.

Pelle's filing meant his lawyers could question Johnny Wall directly, under oath.

"My attorney and I took a deposition of him," Pelle explained, "and I think the contents of that are incredibly damning."

It seems police and prosecutors found Wall's testimony damning as well.

"There were a whole lot of new stories that we hadn't heard -- contradictory statements given his past stories -- and things so just bizarre, these bizarre, newfound tales that he's spinning in front of me," said Pelle.

At the same time, investigators received long overdue test results from DNA found at the crime scene, including from under Uta's fingernails -- a positive match for a male in the Wall family.

"They were willing to look at that evidence and make a charging decision at that time," said Olson.

On April 25, 2013, 18 months after Uta von Schwedler's body was found, police arrested Johnny Wall for the murder of his ex-wife. His bail: $1.5 million.

"So what was it like, then, when finally after all this time, he was actually charged?" Spencer asked Pelle.

"Exhilarating. A re -- huge relief," he replied. "I couldn't believe that it had happened."

"I felt devastated. I think we all did. It was just -- it was -- it was an incredible tragedy," said Wendy Wall.

Six months later, Johnny Wall finally would face a judge in criminal court.

"Today is October 1st so it's the first day of my dad's pretrial and we're just on our way down there downtown heading to the courthouse," Pelle explained. "This is a moment that we've been working for for almost two years ... I always wished I'd see my dad in court as a suspect arrested for my mom's murder."

But arrest is one thing; trial is another. And that's what this crucial hearing will decide. Is there enough evidence to try Johnny Wall for murder?

Courtroom cameras were restricted to shots of only the attorneys and the defendant.

Over the next two days, two very different pictures of Johnny Wall emerged.

His childhood friend, Klaus Fiebig, recalled a conversation with Wall in the months before Uta's death.

"He asked me the question, 'Would it be bad if Uta wasn't here anymore?'" Fiebig testified.

"Which you took to mean what?" Spencer asked Fiebig.

"I didn't really know what it meant. I thought, 'Wow, maybe he's just so full of hatred that this just sort of slipped out.' You know, sometimes you wish that somebody else would just disappear," he replied.

Nils Abramson testified to what else he found in Uta's house the night he found her body.

"There was some blood right here on Uta's side of the bed," he testified.

"What was your impression of the situation in the bedroom?" Spencer asked Abramson.

"One, the curtains were drawn," he replied.

Asked why that was significant Abramson said, "Well, we never shut the curtains. ... And then ... the desk lamp ... was pulled all the way to the middle of the bed, so -"

"The lamp was on the bed?" Spencer asked.

"Yeah," Abramson replied. "And I thought, 'Well, that's, you know, odd.'"

Prosecutor: Did she have any enemies?

Nils Abramson: The only person that I can think that would be an enemy would be her ex-husband Johnny.

An assistant medical examiner described Uta's injuries: bruising on her upper lip and neck, deep cuts on the left wrist and leg.

Prosecutor: Is this typical of what you would see in a self-inflicted wound?

Erik D. Christensen: No.... I've never seen anything like this in a suicide.

Another puzzling discovery -- Uta had an unusually high level of the anti-anxiety medication Xanax in her system.

Prosecutor: You indicated that the level of Xanax in Ms. von Schwedler's system was toxic to potentially lethal.

Erik D. Christensen: Depending on her experience with the drug, you know, this level could represent, you know, her sole cause of death.

"Did she ever take antidepressants? Did she ever -- take anti-anxiety medication?" Spencer asked Abramson.

"No, she used recreation and exercise as her mental health drug," he replied.

"She actually kept a medicine calendar of every single ibuprofen that she ingested," Amy Oglesby said.

Asked about Xanax, Oglesby laughed as she told Spencer, "No Xanax. No Xanax."

But, the defense said, since Xanax is in her system, Uta must have taken it.

"She was at about twice a therapeutic level," Fred Metos said. "It's clearly enough to -- make her drowsy, maybe render her unconscious. And if she's trying to get into a bathtub ... it's not that hard to drown."

Coincidently, months before Uta's death, Johnny Wall wrote a Xanax prescription for his mother.

Prosecutor: Did you determine who picked up that prescription of Xanax for Joyce Wall?

Witness: Yes.

Prosecutor: Who was that?

Witness: Dr. Wall.

"The mother said she doesn't remember receiving it," Metos said. "Then when they talked to the dad later, dad said, 'Yeah, we got it. And I got rid of it.'"

Prosecutors' ace in the hole was the long-awaited DNA evidence which potentially put Johnny wall in Uta's bedroom:

Prosecutor: With regards to the right fingernail scrapings, what did you find?

Expert: We got a partial YSTR DNA profile.

Prosecutor: Was he ever excluded from that mix?

Expert: Not excluded.

But the defense insisted that "not excluded" did not mean "included" and put the DNA in a very different light:

Fred Metos: Based on your knowledge of genetics and DNA, there's a reasonable likelihood that the children could have been the source of that DNA?

Expert: It's possible.

"So your contention is that this DNA is absolutely meaningless?" Spencer asked Metos.

"It's meaningless," he replied. "Johnny has the same DNA as his two sons."

After three days of testimony, the judge took but a few minutes to rule:

"It would be my conclusion counsel and Mr. Wall that the State has met it's burden, has established probable cause to believe, number one, that this was in fact a murder ... and number two that, Mr. Wall, you committed that murder," the judge said. "Therefore, with those conclusions, I will order that the defendant be bound over to stand trial."


"Pelle is, without a doubt, one of the most courageous young men I have ever encountered," said his attorney, Margaret Olson.

Few teenagers would have taken on the battle Pelle Wall did against his own father.

"I'm very proud of what I did. I had a whole lot of help. But I to this day have no regrets about it," he told Susan Spencer.

Pelle Wall 48 Hours

No regrets maybe, but he has paid a steep price, literally.

"All of these legal proceedings have cost me an enormous amount of money. That's essentially my entire inheritance from my mother," Pelle explained. "But to me we were successful in protecting my siblings. And their lives are worth infinitely more than a couple hundred thousand dollars."

Unlike Pelle, Johnny Wall's sister regrets everything her nephew did.

"I think that Johnny felt devastated when -- you know, when Pelle -- in some ways you could say turned on him," Wendy Wall said. "Everybody in our family -- Johnny included -- still very much loves Pelle, and I think that we're all trying to remember ... that he's gone through incredible trauma."

But she says, so has her brother, who has spent most of the past year here at the Salt Lake County Jail awaiting trial.

"He's having -- a tough time of it. He's in jail for a crime he didn't commit on an exorbitantly high bail that our family can't meet," Wendy Wall explained.

Pelle Wall is awaiting his father's trial as well.

"I will be sitting across from him. I'm sure he doesn't have warm feeling towards me. I don't have any of those towards him either, so," said Pelle.

"For the State to prevail, the jury's got to believe, first of all, that this was a homicide. That she was somehow forced to take this Xanax. Secondly, that he put his DNA in that house," said defense attorney Fred Metos.

"Given that both Pelle and Liam, you know, spent time in Uta's house, it's hardly surprising that there would be Wall DNA there," said Wendy Wall.

"You gotta remember, we don't have to prove anything. The State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed it," Metos continued.

Not a problem for Uta's friend Nils Abramson, who has his own theory about how Johnny Wall killed Uta.

"He got in in the middle of the night and -- restrained her. You know, probably -- probably punched her or choked her and gave her a little syringe of Xanax in her mouth. And waited the 10 minutes or so that it would take, then she would be unconscious and take her to the bathroom and put her in the tub," Abramson explained.

The syringe he's talking about has no needle. It's the kind pediatricians use to give pills to little kids.

"They crush up the pill and use cherry syrup ... and then, you know, squeeze it in with the syringe into the patients mouth," said Amy Oglesby.

"With an adult, who you're not getting along with, and you say, 'Here, let me hold you down and inject this cherry syrup into your mouth,' chances are some of it's gonna get spit out someplace. And there's no evidence of that anywhere in the house," said Metos.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that traces of that pink syrup did end up in Johnny Wall's car, explaining his pressing need to get to the car wash the morning of Uta's death.

"Johnny told the car wash attendant to pay particular attention to a pink stain that was on the car seat," said Oglesby.

"This is a tough case," Spencer commented to Metos.

"It's -- it's a tough case in the sense that there is, like any murder case, there's a lot of emotion," he said.

Meanwhile, with Johnny Wall in jail, the Oglesbys petitioned the court for legal guardianship of Pelle's sibling's. They got it, adding the wall kids to their own brood of six.

"Why did you do this?" Spencer asked Amy Oglesby.

"It was the right thing to do. It was the absolute right thing to do," she replied. "Those four children lost both parents. ...They needed help. And if we were gonna help Pelle, it was gonna be a package deal."

"Everybody is together. And we just had a really nice -- nice winter break-- you know, Christmas, New Years, all together-- Thanksgiving. And that was-- that was new. We hadn't had that in a couple years. And that was really, really nice," said Pelle.

Certainly not the opinion of Johnny Wall or his sister.

"I think the hardest thing for him is actually not even the jail, but the fact that his kids have been ripped away from him. I think he's devastated by that," said Wendy Wall.

The two sides are expecting very different results at the upcoming trial.

"I expect Johnny to be vindicated. I expect that once the evidence is all in ... I believe that Johnny will be found innocent," said Wendy Wall.

"His conviction is incredibly important to me," Pelle said. "It'll provide a lot of closure for a lot of people I think."

In her memory, Uta's friends set up a scholarship prize in retrovirology and ordered a custom made bike rack, which pays homage to her famous red hair. Josh Gelman

In her memory, Uta's friends set up a scholarship and a civic project they know she'd get a kick out of: a bike rack recalling her famous red hair.

For Uta's extended family, the memories are as enduring as the mountains she loved.

"I think she really enjoyed being up here and being outside in the fresh air," Pelle said from a chairlift.

"Does a day go by that you don't think about your mom?" Spencer asked.

"No, not a day," Pelle replied.

"How would you most like for her to be remembered?"

"I think I'd most like for her to be remembered as simply alive -- more alive than most people," Pelle told Spencer. "That's what I -- that's what I remember. And I think that's how she'd like to be remembered."

Johnny Wall is expected to stand trial for murder by the end of 2014.

April 13 is Uta von Schwedler's birthday. She would have been 52 years old.