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Schmidt family thanks community for supporting 3 children after murder-suicide

Posted at 9:49 PM, Feb 01, 2018

The brother and sister-in-law of Robert Schmidt are thanking the community for their outpouring of support following a murder-suicide in Harrison. The tragedy left three children, 11-year-old Elijah, 8-year-old Morgan and 3-year-old Madeline, without their parents.

"Knowing that these children have this blanket of support around them makes it easier for us," said Jason Schmidt.

On January 9th, Robert shot and killed his wife, Sara, before turning the gun on himself. Sara had filed for divorce after her husband was arrested for allegedly holding a gun to her head, tying her up, and sexually assaulting her on New Years Eve. He was out of jail on a $10,000 bond when he committed the murder-suicide.

Jason describes the situation as a nightmare he can't wake up from. Now, he and Shauna are committed to raising the three children left behind, along with two of their own. 

"The kids are doing great, all things considered, they're doing great."

Jason said there are no words to express their gratitude to the generous donors, many of them strangers, who are giving the family strength to get through each day. Two moms they never met collected $1,500 in cash and over $7,600 worth of gift cards to movie theaters, restaurants and more.

"We had an opportunity to go to Build a Bear, all seven of us, and it was amazing watching their reactions," said Shauna with tears in eyes.

Jason added, "The routine is not going to be sitting inside thinking about it. It's ok to be outside having some fun."

Businesses, such as Sky Zone, also donated items. They gave the children outfits and 30 hours of free trampoline jump time.

"There's just so many fun things that we're doing, and able to do, because of the generosity of the community that will help, I don't if heal is the right word, but will help them start healing a little bit," Jason said.

The children will be taken care of in the future as well through a trust fund set-up at Fox Communities Credit Union to pay for their college education and well-being beyond that. So far, the community has donated $11,000. Their late mother's employer, Design Air, is pledging to match donations to the fund up to $100,000 over the next five years.

"I was budgeting for two to go to college, and trying to budget for five to go to college was going to be an issue, going to be a struggle," explained Jason. "These funds in here brings that burden to a minimal which is great." 

Shauna began crying when she said, "We like to be the ones to be the helpers. We're not used to need help ourselves, so it's been very humbling."

The Kimberly School District is also stepping up by providing therapy sessions for the children and guiding the Schmidts on how to answer the kids' difficult questions as they grieve, but Jason and Shauna are also struggling with questions of their own.

"We're still trying to process and understand how this could ever happen," said Jason. "If I would've had any inclination that he was capable, I would've stopped him."

"All we ever saw was gentleness and kindness from both of them to each other, to their children, so there was not even a red flag," said Shauna.

The couple now feels compelled to become advocates to raise more awareness of domestic violence.

"If we can be a voice that can help somebody else in the future, that's what we'll do," explained Jason.

Shauna hopes they can help prevent another tragedy. "Letting women know that if you're in danger, you need to be able to speak out. You need to find that help."

For now though, their focus is on the children. With a 15 and 11-year-old themselves, the Schmidts are now adjusting to becoming a family of seven.

"They're loving it. It's already brothers and sisters," Jason said.

The Schmidts are trying to keep a sense of normalcy. The children will remain active in their basketball programs, and they'll spend time over the summer with their mother's side of the family in Arkansas.

While the family is trying to move on, they said they will always make sure the children know and appreciate what the community has done for them. They are also committed to keeping Sara's memory alive. 

"She was very happy, very joyful, and she spread that on to the kids," said Shauna.

"The five kids that we now have are sunshines to us. We can smile, we can laugh with them, and guide them through the rest of our lives, rest of their lives, in a manner that will honor Sara," said Jason.

If you would like to support the trust fund for the Schmidt children, you can drop-off of mail your donations to any of the 22 branches of Fox Communities Credit Union. Click here for a list of locations.

The Schmidts have written this thank you letter to the community. 

To the very gracious Fox Valley Community; we wanted to extend a heartful THANK YOU to you all.

With the horrendous incident that occurred on January 9th, we say goodbye and will sorely miss a very loving, wonderful mother and a phenomenal person. Please keep Sara and the entire Webber family in your thoughts and prayers forever and please help bring awareness to stop domestic and sexual abuse and help support organizations of domestic and sexual abuse victims.

Both families have collectively joined and will dedicate the rest of our lives to the three children who are all currently doing very well. The families together will ensure these three angels are raised in a very loving and affectionate family environment.

We cannot thank the community enough for the overwhelming support, thoughts and prayers and for all the generous donations! Immediately after the incident, two absolutely phenomenal moms started collecting donations for the children. They collected over 227 gift cards totaling over $7600 and also collected close to $1500 in donations. Thank you Jennifer Johnston and Marta Statz for all your time, effort and extreme thoughtfulness of the children. You both are guardian angels for these three.

Thank you to the Kaukauna Jimmy John’s, Butch’s Pizza in Kimberly and so many more who made generous donations. Zac Wittman of the Appleton Sky Zone donated three extremely generous gift packs along with 30 hours of jump time for the children. Thank you to Fox Communities Credit Union who has partnered up with us and has graciously allowed us to set up the “Schmidt Children Benefit Irrevocable Trust” fund for the sole benefit of the three children’s education and beyond.

And a Very Special THANK YOU to Design Air in Kimberly, where Sara was employed, who has committed to match funds raised over the next five years up to an amazing $100,000. Design Air also has spread the word to their vendors who have also been sending incredible donations. Words cannot express our gratitude for that remarkable gesture.

We are proud to be a part of the great Fox Valley Area and this AMAZING Community!

Thank you from the Webber and Schmidt Families!

 

On February 9th, organizers with “Justice for Sara” plan to hold a vigil for Sara Schmidt and other victims and survivors of domestic abuse. It's set for Friday, February 9th from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at World Headquarters in Appleton.