BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont woman held against her will for more than five weeks at a psychiatric ward after her estranged husband killed their son and then hanged himself was ordered released by a judge Friday.
Christina Schumacher, 48, was ordered released immediately from Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington by Vermont Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin, the Burlington Free Press reported (http://bfpne.ws/1jMHYKp).
Schumacher had been at the hospital since Dec. 19, a day after 14-year-old Gunnar Schumacher and 49-year-old Ludwig Schumacher were found dead in an Essex apartment. Police said the father strangled the high school freshman before hanging himself.
It was unclear whether Schumacher had left the facility by Friday night.
Griffin said in his ruling that he disagreed with a doctor's assessment before Schumacher arrived for a regular appointment the day after the murder-suicide that she needed to admit herself or be taken into custody.
"The court did not find, by clear and convincing evidence, that Respondent was a person in need of treatment at the time of admission or application, nor a patient in need of further treatment at the time of the hearing," Griffin wrote in his ruling.
The Burlington Free Press reported that, according to court records, Schumacher indicated to her sister after the couple separated last summer that she would kill herself if anything happened to her two children.
"I am not ill; I am simply a mother who is grieving the tragic loss of her young son," Schumacher told the Burlington Free Press this week. "No mother should ever have to experience this loss."
Schumacher told the newspaper that she and her insurance company had been billed for the unwanted treatment.
Mike Noble, a spokesman for the hospital, said that he can't speak to the specifics of the case but "that in all matters such as this we make decisions that we think are in the best interests of the patient."
Schumacher had warned police that she feared for her son's safety hours before the bodies were found, according to court papers. She told Essex police the night before the murder-suicide that she feared Ludwig Schumacher might try to take the teenager out of the country, according to court papers.
Ludwig Schumacher was a former member of the Vermont National Guard and state Republican campaign official. Police said he left a typed suicide note in the apartment.
Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com