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A.J.'s Story -- Facts / Information From The Book


Andrew “A.J.” James Schwarz
· Born April 24, 1983
· Died May 2, 1993
· Parents: Ilene Soini-Schwarz and David “Bear” Schwarz
· Half-Sisters: “Patsy” Spence (Mom) and Jackie Schwarz (Dad)

AJ had been:
· under a psychiatrist’s care.
· In protective custody.
· On a medication called Imipramine (used to relieve symptoms of depression)

Guardian ad Litem (or CASA) – Court-assigned guardian for children who have their lives brought before a judge. They work solely for the best interest of the child.

· When Jessica Schwarz was questioned by the police, she “let the words roll off of her tongue” and “out of control.” – A common trait of guilt.

· Jessica was fired from her job as a daycare worker in March. Her boss was so intimidated by her temper that she called the police so she could have a deputy present when she gave Jessica the news.

· Jessica told neighbor Ron Pincus (who was the last outsider to see AJ alive) a few weeks earlier that she hated AJ and that she always hated him and she could never bring herself to love him.

· Neighbor Eileen Callahan told the detective that a day before the investigation into AJ’s broken nose and black eyes, she heard Jackie say to AJ, “What did mommy tell you to say?” and AJ replied, “that I fell and hit my nose on the bicycle.”

· The day AFTER the investigation, Ms. Callahan got a phone call from the HRS investigator. Her phone number had been recorded (on a supposedly anonymous line) on the report of the complaint.

· Neighbor Shirley Leiter told investigators that when AJ came around to collect cans on April 29, he told her that he was hungry and had been up since 4:45 AM. He couldn’t go home and eat unless he had “a whole bunch of cans” and his stepmother would “put him in jail” if he didn’t bring enough of them home. (Leiter gave him 3 donuts)

· At about 8:00 that morning, Leiter called the CPT, where she was given a 1-800 number. From there, she spoke to Dave Davis, who told her to call PBC truancy. Instead, she called Indian Pines Elementary and spoke to who she believed was the principal, who told her that the school would be taking care of the problem. Three days later, AJ was dead.

· Gail Ragatz was a pest exterminator who gave the Schwarz household her services once a month. In December, 1992, she saw Jessica put AJ’s bowl of food next to the litter box. She told him, “If you want to act like a dog, you’re going to eat like a dog.” (contained macaroni and cheese and a hot dog with ketchup. Ragatz lived across the street across the street from the Schwarzes)

· Louis and Anne Steinhauer lived across the street from the Schwarzes for about 1-½ years. Anne said about 3 times a week, she met AJ on the corner and drove him to school.

· She asked AJ if she if she could take him to school since he had to walk every day. AJ accepted the rides – but only if she would pick him up on the corner because he didn’t want Jessica and David to see him riding in a car.

· AJ was grounded most of the time.

· He told her that early every Thursday morning, he had to collect cans for his stepmother because she was on probation and made him collect the cans.

· He was up early every morning doing chores.

· He had to clean the garage 5 out of the 7 days.

· She never saw the girls doing any chores.

· On Saturday, April 24, she saw AJ working in the garage and Jessica walked up behind him, placed her hands around his neck and picked him up off of the ground. His arms were limp at his sides and his feet were off the ground. She walked around the garage, saying, “See this! Look at this!”

· Anne heard – on a daily basis for 1 ½ years – AJ being called “shit for brains,” “stupid” and an “idiot.”

· Catherine Turner lived directly behind the Schwarz residence.

· She saw AJ with a black eye and he told her that he “fell down.”

· Saw the lock changed on AJ’s room so it was on the outside.

· Jessica told her that she would make AJ walk around the house naked as punishment.

· In the early hours of May 2, she was awakened by a child’s voice crying, “I won’t do it again!” About five minutes later, she heard the same voice, “I won’t do it again!”

· On September 18, 1992, there was a hearing before Judge Carney in the Broward County Courthouse. Ilene Schwarz (through her attorney) asked that AJ be placed in a foster home, but the request was denied.

· The judge was disturbed by the fact that AJ didn’t start counseling until September 10 – 6 months after being discharged from Vero Beach – and also about the variance in AJ’s behavior in school and at home.

October 8, 1993 – A sealed indictment on Jessica is delivered with the following charges:

· One count of second-degree murder

· Four counts of aggravated child abuse (2nd degree felony):

1. Forced AJ to eat food from a bowl placed next to the cat’s litter box.
2. Forced AJ repeatedly to stay home from school.
3. Forced AJ to wear a shirt that said, “I’m a worthless piece of shit; don’t talk to me.” (or words to that effect)
4. Forced AJ to edge the family yard with regular house scissors.

· Two counts of felony child abuse (3rd degree felony):
1. Forced AJ to sit naked outside his house
2. Forced Jackie not to discuss the circumstances surrounding AJ’s life and death.

· One count of witness tampering (3rd degree felony):
1. Jessica knowingly used intimidation or force, knowingly threatened or attempted to threaten, offered pecuniary benefit or gain to Jackie with intent to influence her testimony.

· At 1:00 that afternoon, Jessica was arrested.

· On October 15, 1993, 38-year-old Jessica pleaded “not guilty” to all charges.

· On October 25, 1993, judge Walter Colbath released Jessica on $150,000 bond.

1. She was not allowed to leave her house, have any money or car keys.
2. Not allowed to have any contact with her daughters.

· David Schwarz did not attend his own son’s funeral.

· 12-year-old Ariel Walton (Teresa Walton’s sister):

1. When Jessica and her daughters would leave the house for any reason, they would lock AJ outside in the backyard.
2. Heard Jessica tell AJ that she hated him.
3. Jessica told her “I’ll never love that boy” and that she was going to “kill him someday and bury him under the pool.”
4. Witnessed Jessica strike AJ across the face and head with her hands, seen him edging the lawn with scissors and that he usually cleaned the garage “every day.”
5. One time, AJ accidentally dropped some toothbrushes in the toilet and Jessica told him that he wasn’t allowed to brush his teeth anymore.
6. Heard Jessica curse at AJ “all the time.”
7. Heard her call him a “fucking retarded kid” and tell him that he “was no good.”
8. A year earlier, Jessica made AJ eat a cockroach. She told Ariel that she was going to make AJ eat every one of them that she saw in the house. Later, when Ariel saw AJ using the garden hose to wash his mouth out, he told her “the cockroach tasted nasty.”

· Early in 1992, Patsy claimed that Jessica had given her a bloody nose and was then returned to Broward County while AJ remained in the Schwarz home, under HRS supervision.

· Laura Perryman once tried to explain to Jessica that she believed that AJ had ADD and that kids with that disorder are very impulsive and lack the ability to think before acting and that she didn’t feel that AJ would do anything to Jackie intentionally.

· Jessica’s reply: “If anything bad happens again, I’m going to kill AJ.”

· Ida Falk admitted that even though she had seen AJ out in the yard with tape across his mouth and working in the yard when he should have been in school, she never called anyone to report it.

· Anne Steinhauer would offer AJ a ride to school “whenever she would pass him on the road.” He would get in the car, look from side to side, then “scrunch down” underneath the window so no one would see him. He told her he wasn’t allowed to have rides to school.

· When she’d get up in the morning, he’d already be outside. She usually got up at 7AM and “he was probably out there until the sun started to go down.”

· She’d seen AJ sweep the driveway and the sidewalk with a paintbrush.

· The whole time he was outside, he was screaming ‘I [am] bad, do bad things and I do bad things and I won’t do it again.’ David and Jessica would both tell him, “I can’t hear you. Say it louder.”

· Dr. Zimmern, AJ’s guardian ad litem on Imipramine:
· DIRECT: “Imipramine is a drug that has been discovered to have certain calming effects in hyperexcitable children. When it works, it has a very dramatic effect.”
· CROSS: “It is a mood-ameliorating drug. (It) can be used for learning disabilities, for children who have hyperexcitability syndromes and it also can be used in certain situations as a plain old tranquilizer.”

· According to Dr. Zimmern’s report, AJ had been living with his father and stepmother since he was adjudicated dependant in mid-1990. Mr. Schwarz was given custody of his son on November 19, 1990.

· On February 6, 1992, AJ was admitted to the Psychiatric Institute of Vero Beach to stay for 6 weeks.

· Over that 6-week period, David and Jessica Schwarz see him twice. A major source of problems for him while he was there was that he would “decompensate” when they would not come to see him.

· Jessica and Davis claimed that AJ suffered brain damage by virtue of being a cocaine baby, suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, had been struck in the head with a frying pan and had a near-drowning experience very early in his life.

· AJ had a CAT scan, at least 2 electroencephalograms, blood tests, thyroid profile and a battery of psychological tests.

· Although psychological records indicated that some of his behavior was abnormal, no evidence had been found that AJ had any organic problem or abnormality with the functioning of his brain. NO BRAIN DAMAGE.

· Dr. Rahaim: “The medical records ruled it out quite conclusively.”

Janie Sutherland was the first witness for the defense.

· “I was given a caseload and it was my responsibility to monitor that particular case. My duties included home visits, court and basically supervising the child.”

· She was neither present at the dependency hearing on August 17, 1990 when AJ was adjudicated and placed under protective supervision nor at a review hearing on November 19, 1990 when AJ and Patsy were placed in the custody of David and Jessica.

· She was aware that the children had lived with a maternal aunt before being placed with the Schwarzes.

· The “bike accident” happened on January 24 and Dr. Zimmern observed AJ with two black eyes and a swollen nose on January 26. Sandra Warren (employed by HRS/CPS for 18 months) saw the “bruises under his eyes and over the bridge of his nose” on March 17 – seven weeks later.

· Jessica Schwarz testified on direct that AJ was hiding food in the garage and he never told her why. (“He wasn’t admitting to anything. I asked him if he was the one hiding the food.”) Prosecutor Cupp then asked her if she then said that he denied that there was food there or said, “What food?” and that’s why she took him around to show him. (“Yes.”)

· David “Bear” Schwarz was on the defense witness list but was never called to the stand. He did not attend the trial at all. As soon as it started, he disappeared.

· The day AJ died, Jessica, David and the girls had gone to Sunfest and left AJ home alone for the day. A neighbor saw him playing in the front yard. If he’d wanted to, he could have gone swimming at any time that day.

· Judge Martin: “It makes no sense that he would go out naked in the middle of the night, on a very cold night, in the dark to swim.”


Scott Cupp:
· Left PBC State Attorney’s Office in 1999
· Opened his own practice in LaBelle, FL, 20 miles from Fort Myers.
· In 2002, he returned to prosecution and is presently chief of felony for the Lee County Office for the 20th Judicial Court.
· Lives in LaBelle, FL

Joseph Marx:
· Stayed with the state attorney’s office until March, 2000.
· After having his own practice for a few years, he was appointed to a judgeship by Governor Jeb Bush in 2003.
· On August 1, 2003, he took over as county court judge for the 15th Judicial Circuit in PBC.

Jessica Schwarz:
· Appeals have run their course.
· Convictions in both trials were appealed to Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals and upheld and the Supreme Court of Florida refused to hear them.
· Current projected release date is December 3, 2034 – subject to review.
· Currently incarcerated at the Broward County Correctional Institution.
· Middle-aged with Graying hair – and unrepentant.

Complete list of injuries:

FACT: AJ was found dead floating midway between the top and bottom of a four-foot-deep, above-ground swimming pool in the backyard of his home. He was naked and his body was covered with bruises and scratches – 30 to 40 bruises and scratches. Rigor mortis had set in.

· Bruises and scratches of varying ages
· Abrasions on the right side of his nose and the left corner of his mouth
· Palpable swelling was above left ear
· Three bruises at other various locations on his scalp
· When the scalp was peeled back – called reflected – it revealed four areas of subcutaneous [under the skin] bruising extending from the skin surface to the galea. There was obvious hemorrhage in the galea.
· A crescent-shaped laceration behind each ear
· Two areas of bruising inside his upper lip
· Bruises underneath his chin – on each side.
· A bruise on the right side of his chest
· A scratchlike abrasion on the left side of his chest
· Two bruises on his abdomen
· Bruises on his back
· Multiple bruises on his buttocks
· A scratchlike abrasion on his right hip
· Upper left arm had at least three bruises within one to two inches of each other with deep acute hemorrhages extending to the underlying musculature.
· A scratchlike abrasion on the left forearm
· Abrasions and scratches on the left wrist
· A scratchlike abrasion on the right forearm
· A small bruise on the left elbow
· Large areas of bruising on the back of his right thigh – extending from below the buttocks to his midthigh.
· Abrasions on the right calf.
· Bruises on his left thigh
· A bruise below his left knee
· An abrasion and bruise on his right lower leg
· Scratchlike abrasions on both of his ankles
· The injuries to the scalp were sufficient – in and of themselves – that they could have caused the death in someone Andrew’s age and size.

According to Dr. Burton:
· “The fingers of a person” caused the crescent-shaped lacerations behind each ear.
· A recent scratch on his chest was “fingernaillike.”
· The bruises on his upper inner thighs were recent
· It would have taken a lot of pressure to force that much blood out of the tissues on the left arm.
· The pattern of bruises on the scalp could in no way have been caused by some type of accident. They were multiple – involving all four quadrants of the scalp.
· The bruises were approximately the same age – a few minutes to a few hours old.
· The abrasions by his mouth, on his nose, behind his ears and the bruise beneath the left arm were “Consistent with someone having held his head with the hand placed behind and possibly another hand across the nose and then being held submerged until he aspirated enough water to become unconscious and die.”
· There was some swelling of the brain, which could either have been caused by punches or blows to the head – or from the drowning.
· The injury to his buttocks could have been caused by a whipping, which he supposedly got some days before, a week before.
· The injuries under his chin were consistent with an incident which neighbors observed several weeks prior to his death: Andrew was picked up by the head and neck and swung from side to side with his arms flopping like a rag doll – and was seen to have been picked up by his [step]mother.


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