A family tragedy

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FRANKLIN—Hours before Charles “Chuck” Steinert allegedly shot his estranged wife to death on Saturday, he took his son to a soccer game and went to Pizza Hut for an end-of-the season lunch with the team.

By 12:30 p.m. that same day, Steinert went to the 200 Southampton Road home of his wife, Tammy Jo, where he is accused of shooting her in the head, shooting and wounding her uncle, and holding two teenage girls hostage for six hours.

Steinert, 36, gave himself up peacefully and now faces first-degree murder and other charges. He is being held in Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk without bond.

Virginia State Police said Steinert arrived at his wife’s house with a revolver. Her uncle, Joseph Michael Wise, 46, of Courtland confronted him outside and was shot in the abdomen.

Wise fled to a neighbor’s house and was flown to Norfolk Sentara General Hospital, where he was in fair condition Tuesday.

According to a criminal complaint, detectives believe Steinert shot and broke the glass in a back door to his wife’s house, entered the home and chased the girls and his wife into a bedroom.

He then allegedly forced his way into the bedroom, shot his wife and barricaded himself in the house, holding the girls hostage.

As negotiations began with Steinert, authorities ordered tactical units to surround the one-story house and sealed off the neighborhood using police cars and fire engines.

About four hours into the standoff, Steinert released the two girls unharmed, and then surrendered at about 6:30 p.m.

Police declined to identify the girls, but one is believed to be a daughter of the Steinerts.

The chief medical examiner in Norfolk ruled Tammy Jo Steinert’s death a homicide following an autopsy on Monday.

Joe Russell, Tammy Jo Steinert’s father, said at the scene Saturday that the couple had been married for 10 years but that Chuck Steinert was violent toward his daughter. They were reportedly getting a divorce.

“We had a protective order put against him on April 6,” Russell said.

Franklin Police Lt. Tim Whitt said police were familiar with Chuck Steinert because of previous domestic disturbances, but he said those incidents did not involve weapons.

“We have had dealings with him before,” Whitt said Saturday.

Neighbor Daniel Johnson said he saw Chuck Steinert at a soccer game at the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA in Franklin at 10 a.m. Saturday. He said their sons were on opposing teams for the last match of the season.

“We were at the soccer game together,” Johnson said. “He was there. I saw him at the Y, and my wife saw him afterward at Pizza Hut, at the pizza party for the end of the season.”

Johnson said his wife saw Chuck Steinert leave the restaurant alone. He apparently left his son with the child’s paternal grandmother.

“I guess he then came here, and did what he did,” Johnson said

Chuck Steinert worked for T&A Repair in Courtland.

According to Tammy Steinert’s profile on the business professional website LinkedIn, she had been working for more than two years as a material safety data sheet writer for 3E Company in Carlsbad, Calif.

A company official confirmed that she worked at home for a division based in Kingsport, Tenn.

Her LinkedIn profile also indicated that she had studied with the online Concord Law School of Kaplan University and attended Radford University.

Another website, Classmates.com, said she was a 1990 graduate of Franklin High School.

Johnson said Tammy Steinert, 37, went on a field trip with her son, a second-grader at S.P. Morton Elementary School in Franklin, on Friday. School officials confirmed that a second-grade class did go to the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk on Friday, but declined to comment further.

“She was a very sweet parent who cared about her kids,” a school official said Tuesday.

Chuck was arraigned in Franklin City General District Court on Monday and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing at 10 a.m. Aug. 18. Court records indicate that he is currently being represented by a public defender.