Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl appeared to many to be working their way up in a region of strivers: She was a corporate attorney for a prominent Arlington firm, and he was a former judge advocate in the Army at Fort Belvoir.
But that trajectory was suddenly reversed after Alecia Schmuhl was fired recently, two people familiar with a police investigation said.
The Springfield couple allegedly drove to the McLean home of one of the firm’s managing partners Sunday night.
Andrew Schmuhl knocked on the front door of the nearly $1 million rambler on Spencer Road and then stabbed the man, police said.
When the man’s wife came to see what was going on, Schmuhl stabbed her, too, police said.
Andrew and Alecia Schmuhl, ages 31 and 30, were arraigned in Fairfax County General District Court on Wednesday on two counts each of abduction and malicious wounding in connection with the attack.
They are being held without bond.
Detectives and acquaintances are trying to piece together why a couple with apparently so much going for them would allegedly throw it all away.
Police said investigators have not been able to interview the McLean husband and wife, who continue to fight for their lives in the hospital.
The Washington Post generally does not identify crime victims without their permission. They are both 61.
The incident shattered the peace of what is normally a quiet and low-crime neighborhood in McLean.
“It’s a horrendously sad situation,” said Merrit Green, a founding partner of McLean’s General Counsel, P.C., where Alecia Schmuhl had previously worked. “She was on a good, bright career path, and so was her husband. It’s just unbelievable.”
Green said Schmuhl was a diligent worker in her three years at the firm, which wrapped up in January 2013.
He described her as outgoing and friendly and said he had good interactions with Andrew Schmuhl. She worked on corporate and intellectual property law.
After she left the firm, Green said, Schmuhl joined the Arlington firm, where she was recently fired. A job announcement for her said she had been working in intellectual property law there.
The Post is not naming the firm, and a managing partner declined to comment on the case, citing the police investigation.
Alecia Schmuhl speaks three languages, according to an online profile, and was on the board of the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless. James Watson, a fellow board member, described her as constructive and helpful.
He said he was “totally shocked” by her arrest.
Both Schmuhls graduated from Indiana’s Valparaiso University Law School in 2009, a spokeswoman said. Andrew Schmuhl was a former judge advocate in the Army at Fort Belvoir, an Army spokesman confirmed.
A LinkedIn page said Andrew Schmuhl oversaw a staff of five paralegals and worked on medical lien cases there until 2012.
His LinkedIn profile said he was seeking employment in military or health-care law. The profile said he joined the Army as early as 2006.
During their brief arraignment Wednesday, the Schmuhls appeared separately before a judge via videoconference from the Fairfax jail.
The Schmuhls didn’t address the charges against them during their arraignment, only answering yes to a judge’s questions. Andrew Schmuhl appeared stiff and used a walker to get to a lectern where he spoke, but police said the issue was the result of a health problem unrelated to Sunday night’s incident.
A judge said he would appoint attorneys for each of the Schmuhls. Relatives of the Schmuhls declined to comment when reached by phone.
Fairfax police said they were called to the McLean couple’s home shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday for a report of a home invasion and stabbing.
Police said the wife managed to activate an alarm, which sent the suspects fleeing and prompting a large manhunt involving dozens of officers and a helicopter.
Two people familiar with the investigation said Alecia Schmuhl allegedly drove herself and her husband away from the scene of the crime.
Police found them in the vehicle less than an hour later on Old Keene Mill Road near Interstate 95 in the Springfield area.
Neither of the Schmuhls has felony records in Fairfax.
They are scheduled for their next appearance in court Jan. 6.