Grieving Mother Involuntarily Held In Psych Ward For Weeks After Estranged Husband Kills Son

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A 48-year-old woman involuntarily held in a psychiatric ward for more than five weeks was ordered to be released on Friday by Vermont Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin.

Christina Schumacher was involuntarily committed after her estranged husband strangled their teen son and then hanged himself.

On Dec. 18, Ludwig Schumacher, 49, and his son Gunnar Schumacher, 14, were found dead in an Essex apartment, according to Fox News.

When Schumacher went in for a regular appointment, her doctor said she needed to admit herself or be taken into custody. She was held at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington since Dec. 19.

It is unclear whether she was able to attend services for the burial of her son while she was in custody.

"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 earlier this week. "No mother should ever have to experience this loss."

Judge Griffin said he disagreed with her doctor’s assessment.

"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.

It is unclear whether Schumacher was out of the facility Friday night.

She says her insurance company has already been billed for the involuntary treatment.

"I can't speak to specifics of this case, but I can say that in all matters such as this we make decisions that we think are in the best interests of the patient," a spokesman for Fletcher Allen Health Care, Mike Noble, said after the ruling.

"We also welcome judicial review, for the judge has the legal authority to rule in these cases," Noble added. "For that reason we have been advocating for a speedier review system and will continue to do so during this legislative session."

Schumacher warned police that she feared for the safety of her son hours before he was found dead, according to court papers. She thought her husband might try to take the 14-year-old out of the country.

Court documents also show her sister claims Schumacher threatened to commit suicide last summer, when she separated from her husband, if anything happened to their two children.

Ludwig Schumacher was previously a member of the Vermont National Guard and a Vermont Republican campaign official.

Sources: USA Today, Fox News