Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Original transcript

Read the full transcript of the homicide detectives' interview with Julie Schenecker after she was arrested in 2011.

Julie Schenecker jury hears her interview with police

TAMPA — Without ever taking the witness stand, Julie Schenecker told a jury and a courtroom full of family members on Wednesday that she'd planned to kill her children three years ago.

Prosecutors played audio from a 2011 recording of Schenecker made after she was taken to Tampa police headquarters, where detectives interviewed her for over an hour. Seated near a woman whose body shook, whose hands had blood on them, and whose mind occasionally latched onto the idea that her children were still alive, detectives asked the same question that parents everywhere were asking each other: Why would a mother kill her children?

Schenecker had a half-dozen half-formed replies. She'd loved her children until they reached the age of 6, she told the detectives. But in the last few years, her 16-year-old daughter, Calyx, had become "mouthy" and her 13-year-old son was following suit. "They were really mean," she said, recalling how Calyx threatened to go away to college and never see her mother again. The remark had made her cry, Schenecker said.

By then, she'd already driven the 27 miles from her New Tampa home to the Lock N Load gun store in Oldsmar, where she bought a revolver. On Wednesday, Lock N Load owner Gerald Tanso told jurors that Schenecker's hands trembled slightly on Jan. 22, 2011, when she came in looking for a weapon. But that was no reason to call the police, he said.

(Read the interview.)

Charged with two counts of first-degree murder, Schenecker, 53, faces life in prison if convicted. Her attorneys are waging an insanity defense, arguing that she is mentally ill and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and severe depression.

Their task — convincing 12 people that Schenecker either didn't know what she was doing or didn't know her actions were wrong — was not made easier Wednesday by Schenecker's 3-year-old interview.

"I just feel horrible. But I've been thinking about doing this for a long time," Schenecker told Detectives Gary Sandel and Stephen Prebich.

Asked again whether she'd planned to kill her children, Schenecker replied: "Oh, yeah."

It was a suicide that had gone awry when she failed to kill herself, she said. Beau was supposed to be first, and he was. Schenecker shot him in the head while driving the family's van. Calyx was next on her list, and so she walked upstairs and sent a bullet into her daughter's head while the girl was doing her homework. Both children were also shot in the mouth.

She would have killed only herself, she said — she'd always wanted to — but that would have been cruel to her children. "My kids would have to live with the knowledge that their mom committed suicide," she said.

While questioning Sandel on Wednesday, defense attorney Charles Traina wondered why the detective continued to interview Schenecker when she swung from moments of clarity to asking: "Are my kids coming in later?" Sandel said he hadn't known what Schenecker was talking about. Maybe she was asking if the children's dead bodies would be brought in later, he'd guessed.

Are they alive or dead? he'd asked her.

"I don't know," she'd replied. She hoped they were dead. She'd felt them, and they were cold to the touch. She'd tried to apologize, she said.

The prosecution rested its case Wednesday after three days of testimony. The defense has asked for a day to prepare and will begin making its case on Friday.

As Circuit Court Judge Emmett L. Battles moved to end trial for the day, he asked Schenecker what's typically a procedural question: whether she'd agree to a set of facts that he would read to the jury. Her attorneys had already given their approval to tell jurors that the Schenecker children died on Jan. 27, 2011. Asked if she understood this, Schenecker became hysterical, collapsing into her chair, head in hands. Minutes passed before she rose again to say: "Yes, your honor, I understand."

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at aphillips@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3354.

Julie Schenecker jury hears her interview with police 05/07/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2014 7:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New Florida driver's licenses available in Tampa Bay

    State Roundup

    The new Florida IDs are beginning to roll out across the state, with some locations in Tampa Bay already carrying the cards.

    The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced it will begin to issue the new Florida driver license and ID card this month in various locations across the state. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]
  2. Come on down, former 'Price Is Right' announcer Rich Fields; you're the new afternoon DJ on Q105

    Blogs

    There's a new afternoon drive host on classic hits radio station WRBQ-FM, better known as "Q105."

  3. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now

    Cooking

    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  4. In Syria's Raqqa, IS makes last stand at city's stadium

    World

    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria captured the city hospital in Raqqa on Tuesday, leaving IS militants holed up at the local stadium, their last stand in the fight over what was once the extremists' de facto capital.

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  5. Florida education news: Constitution changes, #HB7069, school security and more

    Blogs

    NEW RULES: Once every 20 years, Florida convenes a commission to examine whether the state constitution needs amending. Education — Article IX — can play a pivotal role, and this time around the subject appears to be coming into focus for possible change. Members of the public already have