Bellevue Man pleads not guilty after confessing to killing wife with hatchet | UPDATE

UPDATE | A 71-year-old Bellevue man pleaded not guilty to murder charges Tuesday after he confessed to killing his wife with a hatchet last month.

Prosecutors say that James W. Schumacher killed his wife Jean sometime between March 19 and 21. He intended to flee the area before eventually turning himself in.

Schumacher will next be in court April 25, for a case setting hearing.

Original story is below

Prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges against a 71-year-old man who confessed to killing his wife with a hatchet last week.

James W. Schumacher turned himself in to Bellevue police at City Hall Friday afternoon, two days after the incident took place.

Schumacher will be arraigned April 10 at 8:30 a.m. at the King County Courthouse. Prosecutors asked that his $1 million bail be doubled.

After his confession, police drove to the Lake Hills home located at the 100 block of 159 Avenue Southeast where a deceased 71-year-old female, Schumacher's wife Jean, was found.

Schumacher said he killed his wife Wednesday morning in her room, before closing and locking the door. According to court documents, Schumacher and his wife got into an argument the night before, and she threatened to divorce him. She retreated to her bedroom, and locked the door.

Schumacher told detectives he stayed up all night, pacing in his separate bedroom, stewing over the argument. In the morning, he went to the garage and took a hatchet. He broke into her bedroom using a nail, according to court documents, and then hit her in the head six times while she slept. He told detectives he then placed the body under her bed, where it remained for the next two days.

Schumacher said his original intention was to scare his wife, but when he entered the room he attacked her. He hid his bloody clothes in the closet, and contemplated leaving town or committing suicide.

Schumacher said the couple had been married 46 years, and he was tired of the verbal abuse he said he was subjected to. He assaulted her in the past, and was arrested once for it. Schumacher's wife petitioned for a restraining order in November 2010. She and her two children wrote to the court that he was abusive toward her. She told the court she feared for her life.

"Early on in the marriage, he told me that if I ever tried to leave him, he would kill me and has threatened me numerous times over these past four decades," she wrote. "I have a deep fear of him poisoning my food with his medications or rat poison, or choking me as he once tried when he was drunk some years ago. I've had nightmares of him coming after me, and I'm running like in slow motion with weights on my feet and can't run fast enough to escape him."

Schumacher worked at Boeing and U.S. Steel for 17 years each.


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