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Schindlers denied visitation overnight

Published March 31, 2005

PINELLAS PARK -- The ongoing feud between Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers became more acrimonious Thursday morning as Bobby Schindler was refused visitation to Terri Schiavo for most of the night.

At 5:55 a.m. Thursday, Bobby Schindler approached several police officers standing outside his sister's hospice and asked why he wasn't allowed to see Schiavo.

Schindler, who for the first time spent the night at the tiny store he and his family have rented across from the hospice, said he had made three or four phone requests to see Schiavo throughout the night. Schiavo's feeding tube was removed two weeks ago, and ever since then, her family has filed appeal after appeal in an effort to keep her alive. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear another appeal late Wednesday night.

"We've been blocked since 1 (a.m.) last night," Schindler said. "I'm trying my hardest and the best I can to go visit her. But Michael makes all the rules."

Schindler and Father Frank Pavone, director of the New York pro-life organization Priests for Life, spent an hour and 15 minutes with Schiavo Wednesday night. Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri's sister, and her husband also went in for a short time.

Pavone said Schiavo was "in distress," her breathing coming in a rapid pant and her eyes open and moving from side to side. Asked if she appeared to be near death, he said, "It's just at this point a matter of averages. One can't last too much longer than that."

Bobby Schindler said they were told to leave just before midnight Wednesday night because Michael Schiavo wanted to see her. For the past two weeks, Schiavo and the Schindlers have taken turns visiting with Terri.

"This is a staged event," he said. "(Michael Schiavo) wants to continue to act and portray himself as the loving husband."

Schindler said he would continue to try to see his sister, but said, "It's up to Michael Schiavo. He makes all the rules."

Just after 7 a.m., Bobby Schindler and his sister, who had just arrived, walked up to the police and asked yet again to see Schiavo. Again, they were denied.

"Can you ask him to leave for like half an hour?" Schindler asked. "Ask him that. Give us a half hour."

The officer, Pinellas Park Police Sgt. A. Russo, nodded and said he'd ask. At about 7:35 a.m., two officers came over and got Schindler, Vitadamo and Pavone and led them into the hospice.

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