Court records reveal trouble before Essex murder-suicide - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Court records reveal trouble before Essex murder-suicide

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Ludwig "Sonny" Schumacher Ludwig "Sonny" Schumacher
Gunnar Schumacher Gunnar Schumacher
ESSEX, Vt. -

Gunnar Schumacher's Facebook page is filled with birthday wishes. Tuesday would have been the Essex teenager's 15th birthday. But police say days before Christmas his life was cut short by his father, Ludwig "Sonny" Schumacher.

"There was a taking of a human life and we'll do everything possible to determine the circumstances around that death," Essex Police Chief Brad LaRose said Dec. 19.

The Schumachers held a private service for the murdered teen just before the new year, but a family friend says they do plan a public memorial in the near future, understanding that Gunnar's friends and classmates need closure, too.

An "RIP Gunnar Schumacher" Facebook page has been setup in his memory. It has more than 4,600 likes.

In the meantime, authorities try to makes sense of the horrific crime. Police say the biggest clue came from Sonny Schumacher himself. According to investigators, he left a lengthy suicide letter explaining his crime. But the PD denied our public records request for a copy, arguing its release "could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings."

Through a separate request, the court released Lt. George Murtie's affidavit, which reveals Christina Schumacher, Gunnar's mom, knew something wasn't right. According to the paperwork, Christina Schumacher called police a day before her son was found murdered, allegedly telling investigators she was worried about his safety and feared her estranged husband would try to take Gunnar out of the country. She had not heard from him in a couple days.

Gunnar's school said his father explained his absence.

"He called him out, a voice message, and said he would be returning Thursday due to family situations," Essex High School Principal Robert Reardon said Dec. 19.

Court papers show Gunnar's friends say during that time his Facebook account went dormant, which they say was unusual. But searches of the Essex apartment and his dad's pickup truck did not turn up Gunnar or Sonny's missing cellphones or computers.

The Essex police chief tells us there were no outward signs of trouble within the Schumacher home.

"There was no complaint of domestic violence ever made to the police department," LaRose said Dec. 19.

Yet WCAX News obtained multiple police reports filed by Christina Schumacher outlining a pattern of fear. In July, an Essex police officer served Sonny with a temporary relief from abuse order. That same month, Christina's brother came to the police department, concerned Sonny had violated the order. In August, Christina called the police to report a suspicious van outside her home, telling police her husband had made threats to her safety if she ever "crossed him." And in October, police were called to Christina's home to stand guard as Sonny removed personal items from the home. Officers said Christina seemed "nervous."

Essex police withheld two additional police reports Christina Schumacher made, saying they directly relate to the ongoing murder-suicide investigation.

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