Death fuels family feud
Schindlers urge 'forgiveness' amid clash over burial, funeral plans
WorldNetDaily | April 1, 2005
her body undergoes an autopsy by a Pinellas County medical examiner,
the bitter family dispute over the death of brain-injured Terri Schiavo
continues to play out through the media.
latest conflict surrounds estranged husband Michael Schiavo's plans to
cremate her body and not tell her parents and siblings where her ashes
are buried. The Schindlers waged a seven-year court battle to block
Michael Schiavo's efforts to have his 41-year-old wife's gastric
feeding tube pulled.
battle ended yesterday morning when Terri succumbed to her
court-ordered death by starvation and dehydration 14 days after the
removal of her feeding tube and the court order banning any
knew they would come in peace, he would have no problem with it," Scott
Schiavo, Michael Schiavo's brother, told MSNBC during an interview at
his home in Pennsylvania. He said the ashes would be buried in a plot
left by an aunt and uncle in an undisclosed location in his home state,
where Terri and Michael grew up.
This morning, Schiavo attorney George Felos denied the Schindlers would be kept in the dark.
"The parents will be notified of the location of the interment," he stated emphatically to Fox News.
When asked about reports the Schindlers would also be barred from the funeral service, Felos was more vague.
don't know ... what, if any, service Mr. Schiavo is planning at this
time. He was literally taking this one day at a time at the hospice
over this two week period."
reported Michael Schiavo petitioned the court back in November 2002 to
have his wife cremated, anticipating a favorable ruling from 6th
Judicial Circuit Court Judge George Greer on his motion to remove the
feeding tube. In the motion, he sought to have the cost of the
cremation and burial paid out of the trust funded by $700,000 awarded
in a medical-malpractice lawsuit and established to cover Terri
Schiavo's rehabilitative therapy and other medical expenses.
ruled in February 2000 that Terri would not want to live by artificial
means and that she remains in a persistent vegetative state, two
conditions necessary under Florida law to withhold life-prolonging
medical procedures from incapacitated patients. The Schindlers dispute
both findings and their appeals to courts all the way up the legal
chain to the U.S. Supreme Court delayed Greer's court-ordered tube
removal until March 18.
argument over the cremation played out in court motions and counter
motions prior to Terri Schiavo's death, with the Schindlers arguing
their devout Roman Catholic daughter would object to being cremated.
has reported Terri Schiavo collapsed in February 1990. She suffered
severe brain damage when oxygen was cut off to her brain for several
minutes. The cause of the collapse is disputed. Michael Schiavo won a
malpractice lawsuit against Terri's physicians on the basis that they
should have detected a potassium imbalance associated with bulimia that
triggered a heart attack. Based on a suspicious full-body bone scan
done of Terri Schiavo 13 months after her collapse, the Schindlers
suspect Michael Schiavo had physically abused her and attempted to
between the family members escalated amid word of Terri's death
yesterday morning, when her siblings were ordered out of her room at
Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., during her final moments.
Frank Pavone, a family spiritual adviser, told reporters he was in
Terri's room with them when hospice staff instructed them to leave at
the behest of Michael Schiavo.
heartless cruelty continues until this very last moment," Pavone said
of Michael Schiavo, who has lived with another woman with whom he
fathered two children for nearly a decade.
In an interview on Fox News, Felos detailed the clash.
hospice nurses came in to do an assessment of Terri and asked the
brother and sister to leave and the brother apparently resisted and got
into a dispute with the law enforcement officer. At this time, the
hospice administrator came down the hall and said to Michael, 'Michael
there's only a few moments left. If you want to see Terri before she
dies, you have to come now. And by the way the brother wants to be
there and suggests that the police be in the room to prevent any
disputes.' And at that time Michael said, 'No, ask him to leave," Felos
"Terri had a
right to die with dignity in an atmosphere of calm and peace and love
and it was just not right for her to have a police officer standing at
the head of her bed when she died," he added.
in the interview, Felos said another reason for Michael Schiavo's
barring the siblings from his wife's bedside at the end was due to hurt
"This case for
him has always been about carrying out Terri's wishes," he said.
"Unfortunately, because the parents could not win in a court of law
what was waged against Mr. Schiavo was a smear campaign and a campaign
of misinformation and hate. And that was very, very hurtful. And I
think that, unfortunately, it was one of the reasons why we were unable
to have some sort of healing by the family at the end."
divergent characterizations remain of Terri's death. One put forth by
"right-to-die" advocate Felos, and the other by the Schindlers and
press conference yesterday, Felos spoke repeatedly of Terri Schiavo's
"death process" by starvation and dehydration, describing it as "calm,
peaceful and gentle." Today, he specified Terri Schiavo died with
Michael Schiavo "cradling her head."
On Saturday, he described her as looking "beautiful" as she lay dying.
In contrast, Pavone said she "was obviously in deep distress and suffering."
Virtually all other eyewitnesses described Terri Schiavo as "gaunt," "drawn," "struggling" and "fighting like hell" for life.
Schindler, Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo, Bob Schindler and Mary Schindler
hold press conference on March 25, 2005 (Photo Courtesy: David Nee)
these recent years of neglect at the hands of those who were supposed
to protect and care for her, [Terri] is finally at peace with God for
eternity," the Schindlers stated at a press conference yesterday
statement on behalf of the whole Schindler family, the Suzanne
Vitadamo, Terri's sister, and Bobby Schindler, her brother, urged
this ordeal, we are reminded of the words of Jesus on the cross:
'Father forgive them for they know not what they do.' Our family seeks
forgiveness for anything that we have done in standing for Terri's life
that has not demonstrated the love and compassion required of us by our
faith," Bobby Schindler said.
The pair admonished supporters who may channel their grief over Terri's death toward anger at Michael Schiavo.
words dishonor our faith, our family, and our sister, Terri. We would
ask that all those who support our family be completely kind in their
words and deeds toward others," they said.