Coroner: Carbon monoxide factor in boy, father’s deaths
By Matt Hanley And Steve Lord firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com October 26, 2012 5:54PM
The home at 363 Bertram in Yorkville where a 35-year-old man and his 4-year-old son were found dead on Wednesday. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 29, 2012 6:26AM
YORKVILLE — Halloween was coming to Bertram Drive in Yorkville — a time of excitement for neighborhoods like this one, its neat and simple two-story homes populated with young families.
The porch of the home that Joseph Schmitt shared with his 4-year-old son, Wyland, and, at one time, his wife Kyle Weber, featured an uncarved pumpkin and a plastic holiday bucket shaped like a cat’s head.
What happened between that anticipation of Halloween and the tragic deaths of Schmitt and his son, who were found dead in their garage last week — authorities said carbon monoxide was likely a contributing factor — is still unclear as authorities continue to gather facts in the case.
Officials stopped just short of calling the deaths a murder-suicide, pending further toxicology reports.
“It’s so very sad,” said Linda Bell, who had worked at a Yorkville day care center where the boy used to stay, describing the child as “a sweet little boy.”
“There has to be more to the story,” she said Saturday as the area still tried to make sense of it all.
Schmitt’s car was parked in the closed garage where the bodies were found Wednesday after police went to the home on a wellness check, reportedly at the request of Weber, who had moved out of the house as the couple went through the process of divorcing.
Police would not confirm that it was Weber who made the call, but she is a Naperville psychologist whose specialties include depression and mood disorders and who describes herself on her professional website as an “empathetic” and “warm” healer.
The car was no longer running when police arrived. But two lawn chairs were set up near a vehicle, with the 35-year-old Schmitt on the floor and his son was sitting in a chair nearby, Kendall County Coroner Ken Toftoy told the Beacon-News. Neither body showed any signs of trauma, Toftoy said — both looked like they were sleeping.
“I’ve done this 20 years, and I can’t get this out my mind,” Toftoy said. “Seeing that little guy sitting in the chair in his pajamas ... . I had tears in my eyes when I was picking him up.”
Toftoy said he could not label the deaths a murder-suicide. However, Yorkville Police Chief Rich Hart said that police are not looking for any suspects and there is no danger to the public.
According to DuPage County court records, Schmitt’s wife had filed for divorce in August after eight years of marriage. The couple was scheduled to be in court again at the end of November. Neighbors knew Schmitt and his wife were separated and that she no longer lived in the house. Police said there had been no prior visits by law enforcement to the home.
The boy would visit his father often, neighbors said. They recalled seeing the child running around the yard or splashing in a backyard pool with his dad.
As news of the discovery broke last week, television trucks and reporters arrived, jarring the usually calm nature of the Yorkville subdivision of Bristol Bay.
“I’ve had a few people ask me about it, but not a lot,” said Erich Goepel, owner of River City Roasters coffeehouse on East Hydraulic Avenue, nestled against the Fox River downtown. “I just think there’s a lot of shock.”
Ashley Kraber, tending bar at O.J.’s Tap downtown, said Saturday part of the reason might be that the family hadn’t lived Yorkville very long, resided in a newer part of town, and they did not know a lot of people here.
Still, she said the deaths did come up in the sparsely populated bar Saturday afternoon.
“We just had four people in here talking about it,” she said.
Bristol Bay is one of Yorkville’s newer subdivisions, on the far northern edge of town. On Saturday, the neighborhood was quiet, broken only by sounds coming from a youth soccer game.
A young woman jogging on a sidewalk near Bristol Bar Elementary School, just a block from the house told a reporter, “What is there to say, really?”
The couple had ties to Naperville. Schmitt’s now-deceased father, who worked as a chef at Chicago-area restaurants, had raised his family there and was active in Naperville’s St. Thomas the Apostle Church. In his 2010 obituary in the Naperville Sun, the father, Robert, was described as “a man who instilled in his children many important values and lessons: the values of reading and education, of respect, love and hard work, and of commitment and dedication to family and friends.”
Records indicate the couple had lived in San Diego for a time in the mid-2000s. Schmitt appears to have held a security guard’s license there.
On Weber’s website, she is described as working with children and adults, specializing in anxiety, depression, autism, and eating and mood disorders. “I believe each person is unique and that they matter,” she writes. “I offer genuine compassion and a caring attitude towards others.”
Authorities are awaiting blood and urine samples from the state crime lab to determine if there were signs of any drugs in either body — “part of the legal process,” Toftoy said. “We just need to know.”
Families of the two have declined comment on the case.
But following the gruesome discovery, someone had lovingly placed two stuffed animals side-by-side on the porch of the house on Bertram Drive — between the Halloween bucket and the uncarved pumpkin — in memory of the father and son.
“For Joe,” read a tag on a stuffed monkey. “For Wyland” read the other.