A retired Boeing employee accused of killing his wife with a hatchet last week allegedly packed his car, withdrew thousands of dollars from his bank account and took his wife's Pomeranian to a kennel, all in anticipation of fleeing, according to King County prosecutors. Instead, James Schumacher walked into the Bellevue Police Department on Friday...
A retired Boeing employee accused of killing his wife with a hatchet last week allegedly packed his car, withdrew thousands of dollars from his bank account and took his wife’s Pomeranian to a kennel, all in anticipation of fleeing, according to King County prosecutors.
Instead, James Schumacher — who had allegedly abused his wife and children for decades — walked into the Bellevue Police Department on Friday and told officers he’d killed his wife, Jean, days earlier and hid her body under her bed.
Schumacher, 71, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder domestic violence and is being held in King County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail.
“The attack was a culmination of decades of verbal, mental and physical abuse perpetuated by the defendant against his wife,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sean O’Donnell wrote in charging documents, which cited Jean Schumacher’s November 2010 petition for a protection order against her husband.
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James Schumacher, apparently worried that his wife was going to divorce him, retrieved a hatchet from his garage and then used a nail to pick the lock to his wife’s bedroom, where she was sleeping, charging documents say. He thought she was awake but ignoring him, so he then hit her in the head with the hatchet six times, the papers say.
Police believe Jean Schumacher, 71, was killed sometime between March 19 and 21.
Jean Schumacher wrote that she lived in constant fear of her husband and couldn’t count the number of times he’d threatened to kill her, according to her 2010 petition. Her adult son and daughter also wrote of the vicious beatings they endured as children and of how their father repeatedly abused their mother over the course of their 46-year marriage, the petition says.
Jean Schumacher sought the protection order after her husband was arrested for pushing her with so much force that she hit her back and head on the dining-room floor, according to the petition. She required medical attention and said the reason for that assault was that she had accidentally knocked over her husband’s box of Cheerios.
She alleged in her petition that while working for Boeing, her husband drank excessively and she feared he’d lose his job because he frequently called in sick. After he retired at age 62, the abuse intensified and the intervening years became “nightmares to me,” Jean Schumacher wrote.
She described her husband’s bizarre behavior — he drove around with his dead parents’ ashes in his car for years, collected plastic forks, spoons and shopping bags, and refused to bathe for weeks at a time, according to her petition.
Her daughter wrote of “living in terror” of Schumacher: “I often attempted to escape him by locking myself in the bathroom, basement or my bedroom. He would then either pick the door lock or break the door jam while screaming at me and calling me vulgar names,” she wrote in support of her mother’s petition for the protection order.
The couple’s son also wrote of being beaten by his father, often with a belt or wooden spoon, and of his concern for his mother’s welfare.
A King County Superior Court judge granted the protection order, court records show. The following month, Jean Schumacher asked that the order be modified, allowing her and her husband to talk on the phone and meet once a week to discuss finances and other household matters, according to the records. That request was also granted.
The protection order was terminated last July at Jean Schumacher’s request, court records show. Her finances were dwindling and she was overwhelmed trying to take care of the house by herself, she wrote.
“Mr. Schumacher and I are in our declining years with health issues and hopefully this very unfortunate separation has proven to be beneficial to our marriage as a learning experience and a dedication to respect each other and live out the rest of our lives in a contented and peaceable manner,” she wrote.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or email@example.com