Family counseled after slaps - WFLA News Channel 8

Family counseled after slaps

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By Josh Poltilove

The New Tampa mother accused of fatally shooting her two teenagers last week was investigated three months ago after a physical confrontation with her daughter.

Police said Julie Schenecker fatally shot Calyx, 16, and Beau, 13, on Thursday because they were "mouthy." She was charged Friday with two counts of first-degree murder.

Schenecker, 50, is being held without bail at Falkenburg Road Jail.

On Nov. 6, police went to Schenecker's home and spoke with her about the possible abuse of Calyx. Officers didn't see any physical injuries, and Schenecker was not arrested because there wasn't enough evidence of a criminal offense, police said.

"It appeared to just be typical tensions that parents have with teenagers," police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. "The daughter had talked back, the mother slapped her for it. The daughter was upset that she had been punished, and then she also expressed regret for the things she had said to her mother, and she knew that she was wrong. Certainly none of that would be an indication that it was going to rise to the level of a mother killing her children."

Parker Schenecker, an Army colonel assigned to U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, told a Department of Children & Families investigator that the November incident was the first time his wife had "put her hands on the child," a police report states.

Calyx "is very angry and at times can be very disrespectful," he said.

He said he had no safety concerns for his children and that because he works for the military's advocacy program, "he is able to recognize when there is a problem," the investigator wrote.

The family was attending group therapy, and Julie Schenecker was going to individual sessions, he told the investigator.

"He said that he feels it is helping out quite a bit," the investigator wrote.

Investigators learned of the November incident after Calyx told a counselor her mother had hit her on the face.

"She has been seeing a counselor for three weeks now for verbal abuse towards her mom," a police report states.

Calyx, a student in the International Baccalaureate program at King High School, said she was on the way home from cross-country track practice Nov. 2 and wanted to stop by Publix. There was an argument. Julie Schenecker waited in the car until she returned; then Calyx drove home with her mother in the passenger seat.

Calyx "Schenecker claimed she said something she should not have and she now regrets it," the report states. "This is when her mom began to hit her with an open hand on her face for approximately 30 seconds but she is not sure how long or how many times. Then at the gate to the neighborhood her mom hit her again one to three more times."

Calyx told the officer that about a month before that incident, her mother hit her on the mouth in the car, causing it to bleed. That incident had not been reported to police.

Julie Schenecker told the officer that the incident began when she looked in a bag to see what her daughter purchased and Calyx told her to stay out of her business. "You're disgusting," and "you're not my parent," Schenecker said her daughter told her. Schenecker said she became upset and slapped her daughter's face three times, the report states.

Beau said the pair sometimes argued but he had never seen them hit each other.

"He said that he feels safe in the home and is not afraid of anyone," the investigator wrote.

Julie Schenecker denied issues with domestic violence or substance abuse, a DCF report states.

Three days before Christmas, the investigator returned to talk with Julie Schenecker. She said there had not been any other physical altercations with her daughter since the initial complaint, "and the two have agreed to disagree."

In the weeks afterward, investigators interviewed Parker Schenecker, his daughter's therapist and a King High guidance counselor, who all thought the children were safe. A child protection supervisor closed the case Jan. 18.

"The overall risk to the children at this time is low," the report concluded.

Parker Schenecker was home, his wife had plenty of supportive friends, and "the children are old enough to self report if there are any concerns in the home."

Nine days later, investigators said, Julie Schenecker killed her children.

Parker Schenecker, 48, was in Qatar in the Middle East when his children died and was notified by MacDill Air Force Base officials.

Crisis teams were available Monday for classmates at King High School, where Calyx attended, and Liberty Middle School, where Beau was a student.

King Principal Carla Bruning asked students and teachers for a moment of silence for Calyx. Over the loudspeaker, Bruning said she wanted students to come together and support one another.

"I need to make an announcement about the tragic loss of Calyx," Bruning said. "I hope you all stick together and have a great day in the land of the Lions."

At King, several students wore "Harry Potter" garb to school Monday morning in support of Calyx, who loved the book series.

On Monday, the family released the first statement since the killings.

"Colonel Parker Schenecker has returned from his deployment and is grieving with family and friends," the statement says. "He is devoted first and foremost to honoring the lives and memory of his beautiful children, Calyx and Beau. Parker and his family have been touched by the overwhelming support from the community both near and abroad."

Funeral arrangements for Calyx and Beau were being made, according to the statement.

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