Judge orders release of Vermont woman in psychiatric hold

Jan. 25, 2014 at 4:40 PM

BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 25 (UPI) -- A Vermont judge ordered the release of a woman held in a psychiatric ward for more than five weeks after her estranged husband killed their son and himself.

Christina Schumacher, 48, was put under psychiatric hold after her son, Gunnar Schumacher, 14, was found strangled to death and her estranged husband, Ludwig "Sonny" Schumacher, hanged to death Dec. 18 at his apartment, the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press reported.

"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," Vermont Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin ruled Friday.

The psychiatric evaluation stemmed from an incident over the summer when Christina Schumacher sought a relief-from-domestic abuse order against her husband and told her sister she would kill herself if anything happened to either of her two children. The Schumachers also have a 17-year-old daughter, who wasn't involved in the Dec. 18 slaying.

Todd Centybear, executive director of the HowardCenter, a mental health facility where staff was involved with screening Christina Schumacher on Dec. 19, questioned why the case dragged on so long. He said HowardCenter allows for a three-day clinical review of a patient's health.

"How did the 72 hours stretch into [five and a half weeks]?" he asked. "People are trying to do the best they can with something that is not an exact science."

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