San Diego resident Shawn Hamilton said she witnessed the recent reunion of 35-year-old Kisha Schaberg and her 18-year-old biological son, Tony Bluml.
The mother and teen, now murder suspects, had been apart for years, since Bluml and a younger brother were adopted by another set of parents.
Less than a year ago, Bluml was a star wrestler at Valley Center High School and part of a respected family that was active in the community north of Wichita. About two months ago, Bluml moved in with Schaberg in San Diego after they had communicated by social media.
Now, Schaberg, Bluml and two of his former classmates are being held in a Nov. 15 shooting at a house outside Valley Center that killed Bluml’s adoptive mother and critically injured his adoptive father.
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Hamilton, 43, said she works as a security officer and has known Schaberg for more than 25 years. The two have been girlfriends in a relationship.
Through that, Hamilton said, she saw a growing relationship between Schaberg and Bluml over the past two years or so. Until recently, the two women lived together in a San Diego apartment.
Based on her relationship with Schaberg, Hamilton said, referring to the shooting: “I don’t believe she had anything to do with this.”
Schaberg carried a burden over giving up Tony Bluml and a younger brother, Chris Bluml, for adoption when Tony was around 6 or 7 and Chris was 4 or 5, Hamilton said. She said she helped care for the boys before they were adopted.
Schaberg “always talked about her sons and how she loved them and how much she missed them and how she regretted giving them up,” Hamilton said. “She felt really, really bad, and it tore her apart.”
According to Hamilton, Schaberg set up the adoption. She was living in Missouri at the time. She wanted a good family for her sons and wanted to keep them together.
“The Blumls are that family,” Hamilton said, speaking of Melissa Bluml, a 53-year-old bank vice president who was fatally shot, and Melissa’s husband, Roger.
“She was happy with the fact the Blumls came forward and wanted to take care” of her sons, Hamilton said.
Years passed, and Schaberg knew the boys were being taken care of. Eventually, Schaberg had another child, a daughter, now 7.
From Facebook to California
About two years ago, around the time Schaberg moved to San Diego, she established a Facebook relationship with the two sons she had given up for adoption. Hamilton said she encouraged the contact. Schaberg had feared that the boys wouldn’t want anything to do with her, Hamilton said.
Hamilton said her message to Schaberg was: When the time is right, the boys will talk to you, on their own. Just let them know you are there.
Schaberg was happy that Tony Bluml responded to her. Chris Bluml, the younger brother, would say hi every once in a while through Facebook, Hamilton said. She said she wasn’t sure whether the Bluml parents knew their sons were communicating by Facebook.
Although Schaberg had been upset that Chris didn’t seem to want anything to do with her, “she did not blame the Blumls for that,” Hamilton said. “She actually gave praise to the Blumls. She was thankful to them for taking care of her sons.”
Schaberg thought Chris didn’t know her as well as Tony did, Hamilton said.
Before Tony Bluml turned 18, he started becoming more communicative with Schaberg. They also talked by phone, Hamilton said.
After he graduated from high school, he said that he was not living with his adoptive parents. He also was posting comments on Facebook saying that he was messed up and out partying, and it surprised her, Hamilton said, because he seemed to be a smart kid who had been dedicated to sports. And he had been raised by a good family.
“He had plans with his life,” Hamilton said. He talked of wanting to go into the Air Force.
But soon Bluml seemed to be getting into more trouble, Hamilton said. He talked of being arrested and having been in a fight. He talked of visiting Schaberg in San Diego this past summer.
He told Schaberg that he had been trying to sell marijuana and had been robbed, Hamilton said. He said he didn’t get into the Air Force, that his parents had kicked him out, that he was hopping from couch to couch, and on Facebook he was saying he was getting high, Hamilton said.
Bluml was bringing a friend, Braden Smith – one of the four people arrested in the shooting – to California, and Hamilton invited them to stay at her place. Hamilton said she offered to help them get jobs.
Bluml and Smith moved from Kansas to San Diego around mid-September. Hamilton described Smith as “a quiet kid.”
‘The Blumls loved him’
Bluml told Hamilton and Schaberg that he had a bad childhood, that his adoptive mother didn’t love him as she did his younger brother, and that he didn’t want to call her “Mom,” Hamilton said. And he said his adoptive father put him down, Hamilton said.
But Bluml’s claims didn’t make sense, Hamilton said, because the younger brother seemed to be happy.
“I don’t think he was treated poorly,” Hamilton said of Tony Bluml.
“I know that the Blumls loved him.”
The Eagle has contacted relatives of the Blumls but so far the family has decided not to comment.
Roger Bluml would call Tony Bluml after he had moved to California, and Roger would fill Tony in on his younger brother’s sports activities, Hamilton said.
Hamilton said she thought Tony Bluml had been somewhat traumatized because he had moved around a lot before he was adopted.
He seemed to resent that he was given up for adoption, and as his renewed relationship with Schaberg grew, Hamilton noticed that “he wanted his mother’s (Schaberg’s) attention.” He wanted to know what Schaberg was doing at all times, Hamilton said.
She said Bluml told her, “I’m just scared that she’s going to leave me again.”
Hamilton said she told Schaberg that the renewed relationship was going to be hard because she would want to make up for lost time. Hamilton also told her: “You can’t treat him … like he’s your baby.”
And according to Hamilton, Schaberg responded, “Yes, I’m going to make up for lost time, so I’m going to do whatever I have to do to make my child happy.”
Drugs, tension in home
After a few weeks of the Kansans living in the San Diego apartment that Hamilton shared with Schaberg and Schaberg’s 7-year-old daughter, Hamilton had grown tired of what was happening: The other adults were smoking too much marijuana, and Hamilton said she didn’t like that it was occurring in front of the child.
Hamilton was supporting everyone by working two jobs, although Schaberg paid her share from state aid. Bluml and Smith were trying to sell marijuana near the home, Hamilton said.
She said she told them: “This is dangerous” and “I cannot have this in my home. You have to take this elsewhere.”
Hamilton said Schaberg accused her of being jealous of her son. Hamilton said she responded by saying that she had bought him clothes and let him stay in her home.
“He kept complaining about having quality time with her,” Hamilton said. “She started getting high with them all day and every day.
“It was his influence on her.”
Hamilton said she has been working on getting guardianship of the 7-year-old and thought the girl was being neglected because of the presence of the men.
“Kisha (Schaberg) is a good mother, but always said she was a bad mother ... in her depressive state,” Hamilton said. “She became depressed at times.”
Schaberg was seeing a therapist for depression, Hamilton said.
On Oct. 30, four people – Schaberg and her 7-year-old daughter, Bluml and Smith – left for Kansas in a silver Nissan Altima that apparently belonged to Smith, Hamilton said. Schaberg’s plan was to get a job cleaning homes in Wichita that would allow her to pay for a two-bedroom apartment for her and her daughter.
Hamilton defends Schaberg, saying, “She’s a wonderful person. And I believe her weakness was his (Tony Bluml’s) advantage.”
The girl wanted to stay with Hamilton in California, she said. But “Tony said he knows what it’s like to not be with his mother” and talked Schaberg into taking her daughter with her to Kansas, Hamilton said.
Schaberg had changed since Bluml moved in, Hamilton said.
“She was goal-oriented before he came down,” she said. “He had her under, I would say, a spell, and it all changed when he got here.
“He even tried to get me” to be part of the drug dealing, Hamilton said. She said Schaberg had been sober before Bluml came to live with them.
She said Schaberg told her: “The reason I’m going to go is I want to make it with my children, and I want to do it on my own.”
A frantic call from Kansas
On the Friday that the shooting occurred, Hamilton said, Schaberg told her that her daughter and Tony Bluml were going to go to dinner with the Blumls at an Applebee’s near where Tony Bluml, Schaberg and the girl were staying.
According to authorities, Bluml and Schaberg were arrested four days later at the Value Place hotel near 47th Street South and Broadway.
When Schaberg called Hamilton the day after the shooting, “it was a frantic call, saying that something happened to Tony’s parents, and that they were in the hospital,” Hamilton said. Hamilton’s initial thought was that it was a car accident.
“And later on she called me and told me they were shot.”
Schaberg was frantic, saying she was worried about her sons.
Schaberg told Hamilton that Chris Bluml was the one who found his parents. Minutes after the shooting, a 911 dispatcher told a reporter that she could confirm that two people had been found shot in a car.
Schaberg also told Hamilton that investigators wanted to question her 7-year-old daughter about where Tony Bluml had been, Hamilton said.
“She said, ‘I don’t know what is going on. I don’t know what happened,’ ” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said she never saw Schaberg, Bluml or Smith with a weapon while they lived with her.
With the arrests of the girl’s mother and the others, the girl has been put in protective custody.
“I’m waiting for her to be returned back,” Hamilton said. Hamilton said she considers the girl her daughter.
“I’m her ‘Momma Shawn,’ ” she said.
Hamilton said Schaberg’s relatives support Hamilton being the guardian, and that Schaberg “told the caseworker that she actually wants (the girl) to come back to me.”
On Wednesday morning, Hamilton said she got a collect call from Schaberg from the Sedgwick County Jail but wasn’t able to accept it. When Hamilton called the Sheriff’s Office to find out what was happening, a detective told her that Schaberg was suspected of murder, Hamilton said.
“I was in shock,” Hamilton said.
“I said, ‘This is impossible. She would never do anything like this.’ ”
Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker and John Boogert of The Eagle