Slain teens' dad sues accused mother | News
TAMPA, Florida -- Col. Parker Schenecker, whose wife Julie allegedly killed their two teenaged children in January, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his wife.
Well-known Tampa divorce lawyer Jim Knox says when it comes to divorce demands, it's usually nothing personal. But in the case of Schenecker vs. Schenecker, how could it not be?
In late April, Julie Schenecker, the North Tampa mom who police say shot 13-year-old Beau and 16-year-old Calyx because they were being "mouthy," counter-sued for roughly half of the couple's $2 million marital estate.
Plus alimony. Plus $50,000 for legal fees. Her diamond engagement ring. Other jewelry. A life insurance policy naming her as the beneficiary, and more.
All of it, says Knox, is just legal leverage.
"I think it's legal negotiation only. I don't think there's any other motivation for it," he says.
Still, for Parker Schenecker -- who avoided any public comments about his wife -- her demands seemed to be too much.
So today, he filed a separate, wrongful death lawsuit against his wife and went on the offensive.
In a statement, Paker Schenecker said, "I feel strongly that Julie be held accountable for her selfish acts on January 27, 2011 when she silenced my children. I won't let that happen again. They deserve to be heard."
Schenecker was referring to the possible draining of marital assets, which he has said he would prefer to spend on a foundation or charities honoring his children's memory.
The wrongful death lawsuit may be a strategy to ensure that. A wrongful death suit entitles Parker Schenecker to a jury trial against his wife. If he wins, which Knox says he likely would, any damages he receives could then be used to offset Julie's portion of their marital assets from the divorce.
Knox says Parker Schenecker could have made the wrongful death claim part of his original divorce filing, but apparently chose not to until after seeing whether his wife and her lawyers would agree to an out-of court settlement offer, which she apparently rejected.
Now the mere threat of going to court for the wrongful death suit, he says, and the risk of leaving her with nothing, may be enough for Julie Schenecker to reconsider settling for whatever she can get.
"Whoever's representing her as council wants to be paid for their services and she needs family money to do that," says Knox, "This case ought to be resolved relatively shortly."
The wrongful death suit also shows, for the first time, that Julie Schenecker sent her husband e-mails while Col. Schenecker was overseas on assignment in Qatar after she'd allegedly killed the children.
One of those emails, according to the lawsuit, says "Get home soon - we're waiting for you!"
Another refers to children's grades.
"Calyx has all B's and A's. Beau has two C's," wrote Julie Schenecker.
The lawsuit also talks about Parker Schenecker as being a loving and attentive father who, despite being sent overseas, would Skype (video conference) with his children and email when he could to stay in touch.
In his full statement, Parker Schenecker writes:
"Today I have filed a wrongful death suit as well as other filings against my wife Julie for the murders of my children Calyx and Beau.
"This is a necessary step in my desire to give voice to my children and to ensure that throughout what may happen in future criminal and civil litigation, Calyx and Beau are not forgotten.
"I feel strongly that Julie be held accountable for her selfish acts on January 27, 2011 when she silenced my children. I won't let that happen again. They deserve to be heard.
"I am choosing to file this suit to give voice to my children and to hold their murderer accountable for what she did. As I've said, my loss is total. But I won't let my children be silenced or forgotten now or ever.
"This is another step in my commitment to them, to my family and friends, their friends and to the public - to honor my kids and the way they lived. If I did not file this suit I would not be true to my children or my character.
"I now look to the judicial system for help. It's a system I swore to protect and defend along with the US Constitution for more than 27 years in uniform. I have faith this system, that defends good over evil, will do the right thing and hold my children's murderer accountable for her actions."