BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. — A Columbus woman tried to get protection from her husband months, even days, before her family says he killed her before killing himself. A Bartholomew County judge denied her request for a protective order on Dec. 9; they both died on Dec. 19.
Julie Anne Neumann, 36, was laid to rest this week. On Thursday, her mom and her dad returned baby clothes and items Julie collected in preparation for her daughter’s Spring arrival.
Patti Yow said Julie planned to name the little girl Caroline Christine, Christine after Julie’s sister.
“Julie was so thrilled to have this baby girl,” Patti said. “She had her room ready with almost a year’s worth of clothes.”
On Dec. 19, Patti’s funny, devoted and faith-filled daughter Julie was killed and the family said her estranged husband Charles Schmidtke is to blame.
“All I can think of is you hear a psychopath is very charming,” Patti said. “He was very charming. He fooled us all.”
Patti said Charles broke into Julie’s home on Dec. 19 and killed her while her children, a 12-year-old boy and a 9-year-old boy, were home. The family said Craig then took his own life.
“When she got to the end of the hall, Charles took her legs and pulled her into the master bedroom,” Patti said. “As he was closing the door, he was looking across the hall at Landon with a smile on his face.”
Court records show Julie tried to get protection from Charles in October.
“I think the police tried but I think the court system really failed to protect her,” Craig Yow, Julie’s father, said.
Julie’s parents said there was a vicious attack in August. The protective order she requested was denied on Dec. 9 by Judge Jonathan Rhode who says she didn’t show enough evidence to grant the protective order.
Judge Rhode did not return our calls today, but another judge we spoke to says there isn’t a lot of legal room if a request is denied.
“If the court has found that there is no basis for the issuance of the order, there’s nothing before the court and there’s nothing else that you can do,” said Judge Daniel Henke of Fishers City Court.
Henke is not affiliated with the Columbus case at all but spoke generally about protective orders. He said this is the one move victims can make to get a court order.
“I mean, that’s no consolation to the family that you just met,” Henke said. “But the reality is the law cannot defend you, it can only try to modify the conduct of somebody that you are concerned about.”
In the request for the protective order, Julie marked that she was a victim of a sex offense, stalking and repeated acts of harassment. She reported that she feared physical harm would be done to her and that her estranged husband forced her to engage in sexual activity by force, threat of force or distress.
Julie also provided details of the reported sex offenses and text messages to the court in her request for the protective order.
Judge Henke said judges and lawmakers must weigh due process for the accused with the safety of the victim and other people.
“What’s the balance you put between individual rights and the common good and the protection of society and where do you draw that balance,” Henke said.
Julie’s mom and dad know a protective order might not have saved their daughter, but they believe it would have been something to challenge Charles.
“We really want it out there that the system’s broke and something needs to be looked at and changed to help protect people,” Craig said.
Remembering Julie Anne Neumann and her baby
Patti and Craig said Julie relied heavily on her faith and loved being a mom. They said the reason she moved to Indiana was so her boys could be closer to their dad and they could play hockey.
“She loved being a mother,” Patti said. “Absolutely loved being a mother. Everything was about her children.”
Julie’s family said she always strived to make people happy.
“She’d be so funny,” Patti said. “She’d make the funniest thing out of nothing or if things were really upsetting, she’d find some way to make it funny.”
Craig said he wants people to remember there were three lives lost on December 19 and two families grieving. Craig said he wanted to acknowledge the pain Charles’ family is experiencing too – in different ways.
Resources for survivors of domestic violence
Julie sought resources from Turning Point Domestic Violence Services. Patti says Julie did everything Turning Point advised, but it was not enough in this case.
Turning Point released this statement:
“Turning Point Domestic Violence Services shares our deepest sympathies and condolences with the family and loved ones of Julie Neumann. We believe it is incredibly important for the community to recognize that these homicides and all levels of interpersonal violence are occurring in our very own backyards at an alarming rate
Julie and her unborn child’s death come at a time when lethality, as it pertains to interpersonal violence, has seen a dramatic increase locally. Over a one-year period, deaths at the hands of intimate partners have increased by 181% in the state of Indiana. It is crucial to understand that tragedies related to interpersonal violence can be mitigated through systemic, comprehensive, and community intervention and awareness. Turning Point hopes that bringing light to this tragedy will spark important conversations within our communities as domestic and dating violence continues to be a plaguing issue.
Turning Point strongly encourages a person who is experiencing abuse to contact the domestic violence agency serving their area. The agency encourages survivors to work with their local program to safety plan, acquire the appropriate resources, and weigh the pros and cons of each step, as every situation is unique. Working with a domestic violence advocate who has experience and training in navigating the system can be helpful when filing a protection order or completing other steps toward securing safety.
Research shows that having a permanent protection order in effect reduces police-reported physical violence by eighty percent (Benitez et al., 2010). A person with a protection order implemented is less likely to be contacted, threatened, or be physically or psychologically abused by the perpetrator.
Turning Point encourages any person experiencing interpersonal violence, including domestic and dating violence, stalking, and human trafficking, to contact their local provider. Turning Point serves Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Johnson, and Shelby County and can be reached twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-221-6311.
A comprehensive list of domestic violence service providers in Indiana can be found here. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be contacted at 800-799-7233 or www.thehotline.org. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be contacted at 800-799-7233. The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 800-656-4673 and is available via 24-Hour Chat at www.rainn.org.