TAMPA — Julie Schenecker was struggling to fill out a form for the detectives who wanted to question her about the 2011 killings of her two teenage children hours earlier.
“Oh, I missed a letter,” she said. “Did you leave the kids where they lay?”
A recording of the conversation between the barely coherent Schenecker and detectives was released Tuesday by the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office as a judge convened a hearing over a defense motion to keep jurors from hearing that evidence in her upcoming trial.
Schenecker, 53, is scheduled to stand trial April 28 in the shooting deaths of Calyx, 16, and Beau, 13.
Though much of the conversation remained under seal because of restrictions on the release before trial of incriminating statements by the defendant, some of what Schenecker said to police was made public during the hearing Tuesday.
“I just talked to my kids,” the defendant said as she sat in a holding cell, according to Cpl. Sonja McCaughey. “I shot ’em. I was going to shoot myself.”
McCaughey testified she sat with the defendant in a holding cell for almost an hour before Shenecker was interviewed by detectives.
Police said they went to Schenecker’s New Tampa home around 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 28, 2011, after her mother or father received a possibly suicidal email and was unable to get her or her children to answer the phone.
The officers testified there were two notes posted on the front door, both signed Julie. One was addressed to “friends” and the other to the carpool. “We all went to NYC. Be back Tuesday.”
Officers Gregory Noble and William Copulos didn’t get any answer when they tried the front door but could see through the window that the back, sliding glass door was opened. And so they walked around back.
There on the concrete lanai, by the pool, they found Schenecker sprawled on the ground. They called to her and she started to stir. She was wearing blue pajamas and a white robe. There was blood on the robe.
They asked if she had hurt herself.
“I wish a scratch was the reason for this blood,” she said, according to Noble.
She smelled of alcohol and her speech was slurred. She was disoriented. She said she’d been drinking.
“She didn’t appear to be acting like a normal person,” Copulos said.
They asked where the children were, and Schenecker said they were inside. They testified they asked if they could look, and she agreed.
Noble started looking around. Inside the master bedroom, he found a loaded revolver on the dresser. In the master bath were five spent shell casings.
Calling for the children and hearing movement he didn’t then know was actually the cat, he went upstairs. He saw a desk with blood on the floor next to the chair. Inside a bedroom, Noble found Calyx on the bed, covered in a blanket. She’d been shot in the back of the head and near the mouth.
He called downstairs to Copulos, who was with Schenecker. They had a signal 5, police talk for a deceased person. A possible signal 7, code for homicide.
Sgt. John Pryor arrived and put Schenecker in handcuffs.
The officers went into the garage. Inside the family van, on the front passenger seat was Beau, wrapped in a blanket. He also had been shot in the side of the head and near the mouth.
Schenecker was inside seated on the couch. “Who called you?” she asked the police, according to Noble. “Where is my gun? I would like to use it on myself. Did you find my kids?”
She told them Beau was in the van and Calyx was in bed. “My husband is going to be so distraught.”
She wanted a cigarette.
Later, at police headquarters, as detectives were interviewing her, Schenecker’s speech was slurred, and she sounded almost incoherent. Often, her responses were disjointed.
Det. Gary Sandel testified she wasn’t extremely emotional.
“She got upset a few times,” he said. “For the most part, it was just her eyes welling up.”
The detectives read her her rights.
“You have the right to remain silent, do you understand that?”
“Yeah!” she exclaimed.
Anything she said could be used against her in a court of law.
“I don’t want to go to court,” she said. “Should I get a lawyer?”
Let us finish, a detective responded. “It’s up to you whether or not you want a lawyer.”
“I should have paid attention to all the squeaks in the chairs,” she said.
A detective guided her on completing a form relating to her desire to talk to investigators about what happened.
“I can do that,” she said. “Finish all that?”
“How long have you been — you got it? Right there,” the detective coached her regarding the form. “Right there. OK. That’s good enough.”
“Are my kids coming in later?” Schenecker asked.
“Are my kids coming in later?”
“We’ll talk about that. What happened yesterday? Did you pick the kids up from school?”
“Monday, Wednesday, Friday is my day,” Schenecker responded, explaining she was referring to the carpool.
The released recordings do not touch on any conversation about the slayings or any discord between Schenecker and her children.
She does say she takes 10 or 12 medications and that she had been drinking beer and wine the night before. She says she’s diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
She also says she worked in military intelligence as an interrogator who interviewed Russian defectors before leaving the service in 1993 or 1994 and that she met her husband while both were serving in Germany.
“Parker Schenecker. He’s great,” she blurts out.
Parker Schenecker, an intelligence officer assigned to U.S. Central Command, was in Qatar on Jan. 28, 2011, when police said his wife shot their children. He filed for divorce the next month, and they were officially divorced in May 2011.
Circuit Court Judge Emmet Lamar Battles reserved ruling on whether Schenecker’s statements will be admissible in her trial.