TAMPA — Before Parker Schenecker left for his military deployment in January 2011, he says he asked his wife if she would be OK alone with their kids or if he should get his mother or someone else to stay with her.
Julie Schenecker, he said, “looked me square in the eye and said, 'I got this.'''
Parker Schenecker said he left for his deployment feeling he had no reason to be concerned.
Sixteen days after he left, authorities say, Julie Schenecker shot their two children to death.
She killed them, she wrote in a journal, “to protect them from embarrassing them for the rest of their lives.”
Parker Schenecker, 51, who is now retired from the military and working as a civilian Department of Defense employee, took the stand Tuesday after more of his now-ex-wife's journal entries were read to jurors at her murder trial.
Julie Schenecker's lawyers are arguing she was legally insane when she shot daughter Calyx, 16, and son Beau, 13, in the head.
Beau's body was found wrapped in a blanket in the family minivan in the garage. Parker Schenecker said the van was parked in what was normally his spot.
Inside the house, in his wife's handwriting, was a note on the counter: “Sorry about your parking space. Had to leave it for Beau, my darling precious child.”
On a calendar, in the box for Feb. 1, the day Parker Schenecker was scheduled to return home, were the following notations: “Beau is in the van (on the way to practice) Calyx is in her bed (Tried to make her comfortable.)”
And in the stairwell of the home was a note with the words, “DNR. Donate my body to science.” DNR is a common medical abbreviation for Do Not Resuscitate. Parker Schenecker identified the note as being in his wife's handwriting.
Jurors in Julie Schenecker's murder trial also heard Tuesday about prescription pill bottles found inside the bed table, on top of it, on the bathroom counter and in a drug store bag. There was a bottle of beer on the bed table, and a gun instruction book tucked in the drawer with some pill bottles and a happy family portrait.
Julie Schenecker, who was found passed out on the lanai near the family pool, wrote in a sometimes rambling, sometimes illegible journal that in ending their lives, she was helping her children, who she described as “mouthy mouths,” and also in loving terms.
“Kids of suicidal parents tend to commit suicide themselves,” one journal entry read. “Calyx has been talking about suicide since she was 12.”
And another entry read, “I believe I've saved them from the pain. I wish this on nobody – ever. I'm blocking their suffering.”
Julie Schenecker wrote that she wanted to carry Beau to her bed because “that's where he slept happily. I surely wish I could. We're going home today. Take us home, Lord.”
Some of the entries were addressed to her then-husband. “Parker you've been so good to us,” one entry read. “I've learned so much from you. I'm so sorry I've taken that away from you.”
She wrote to her husband both lovingly and critically: “Parker, I'm sorry, so sorry. I don't know what to say, but I sense divorce was inevitable. But I can't live alone. In my last 7 weeks in bed, no one came into the bedroom to see how I was. You didn't teach the kids to be compassionate. Neither were you!
“I just needed a little chat. My meds never kicked in. Might have made a difference. I thought doctor (Demian) Obregon tried hard… He'd hold me accountable. AA – couldn't do it. I'm not an alcoholic. Didn't need a detox and used oxies one or two for pain, as prescribed I should have went to the psych ward instead of alcohol/addict ward. I admit my brain is trashed. I don't believe I could ever recover or make up for my failures over the years.”
Parker Schenecker testified that Calyx and her mom had a “strained relationship” in the months leading up to the killings. Calyx started seeing a counselor, the family went to counseling together and Calyx applied to a boarding school in an effort to put some space between mother and daughter.
Parker Schenecker testified he also spoke both to Calyx and Julie about getting along better. He said he told his wife, “she needed to be the adult in the relationship; she was reverting to childish tactics with a child and it was not getting anyone anywhere.”
Parker Schenecker identified his former wife's handwriting in the pages of the journal that has been read to jurors.
In it, Julie Schenecker wrote of plans to kill herself. “It was my time to go,” one entry read. “Heaven's waiting for me for I have done my job on this earth. The best job I ever had was having/bringing up my babies. This is why I had to bring them on with me.”
Another entry said, “I'll put the gun to my head and pull the trigger… I just always imagined my death would be by carbon monoxide poisoning.” But she mused she may have to use a “triple threat” of a gun, drugs and carbon monoxide. “I don't want to be saved. I'm ready to die.”
One journal page had just one sentence: “You're a failure.”
Parker Schenecker said after he was notified of his children's deaths, he took the first flight he could get back to Tampa.
He testified he saw his wife in February, weeks or days after the killings.
“I guess I stomped your heart flat,” she said.