In the days following his acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges, George Zimmerman was alone, depressed and obsessed with guns, his girlfriend said.
Samantha Scheibe told WKMG-TV that she began her relationship with Zimmerman, who fatally shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin during a February 2012 encounter, around the same time his wife filed for divorce and accused him of threatening her with a gun.
Scheibe said her relationship with Zimmerman quickly unraveled due to his depression and she began to fear him, although she told the station that she stayed with him because she believed she could help.
She demanded that he seek professional help late last month, and Scheibe said Zimmerman moved all of her furniture, clothes and food from her home.
Scheibe and her mother had conversations with WKMG reporters via text message as they sought interviews with national media, saying they thought the attention would protect Scheibe.
“She’s scared is the bottom line,” Scheibe’s mother, Hope Mason, wrote in a text message.
Zimmerman was arrested Monday on domestic violence and misdemeanor battery charges after the 27-year-old Scheibe said he pointed a shotgun at her and pushed her out of the house.
According to prosecutors, Zimmerman had choked his girlfriend earlier this month and had mentioned suicide in the past.
At least two other women, including Zimmerman’s estranged wife, have accused him of domestic violence in the past.
Scheibe said their relationship was volatile, and her mother told WKMG that Zimmerman sent a still image from a sexually explicit video of himself and Scheibe to Scheibe’s daughter.
“He’s now threatened her in writing and even sent a portion of the video to her baby girl,” Mason told WKMG in a text message.
Neither the contents of the image and the girl’s age could be confirmed, but it’s illegal under Florida law to transmit sexually explicit material to minors.
But still Scheibe stayed with Zimmerman and the couple reunited, and Mason was promising an interview with both to national media outlets as recently as last week.
Mason said her daughter first met Zimmerman about 12 years ago, in her late teens, and they dated for a short time before he got married and remained friends.
Scheibe said their recent romance began after Zimmerman’s marriage turned sour, and before he shot and killed Martin in a case that drew national attention after police initially declined to charge him because he’d claimed self-defense.
She said Zimmerman, whom she calls “Georgie,” was a warm and caring man who was always willing to help.
Scheibe said Zimmerman and his wife had gotten into an argument the night he shot Martin, and Shellie Zimmerman had left to spend the night elsewhere.
The couple had already discussed divorce, although they remained married and rented a house from her parents during Zimmerman’s trial that ended in his July acquittal.
Scheibe said Zimmerman began to change after the jury found him not guilty in the teen’s slaying.
She and her mother said Zimmerman sank into a deep depression when the media frenzy died down and doctors prescribed medication, which they said he did not take regularly.
Zimmerman spent days in bed, Scheibe said, and she believes he tried to take an overdose of sleeping pills and stuck a gun into his own mouth when he awoke, although she said she talked him out of shooting himself.
Scheibe said Zimmerman threatened to take his own life on multiple occasions, and she said the threats tended to come when he his name fell out of the headlines.
She thinks Zimmerman enjoyed the media attention he received, although she knew that would prevent him from living a normal life.
Scheibe denied claims made by Zimmerman’s wife about a September domestic dispute, saying Zimmerman had a gun with him but kept it in the trunk of his car.
Police declined to charge him in connection with that case.
Zimmerman was released Tuesday afternoon on bond in connection with his latest domestic violence case.
As a condition of his release, Zimmerman may not possess a gun or come within 1,500 feet of Scheibe, and he must also wear an electronic monitor until his next court appearance on Jan. 7.
Watch this video report posted online by WKMG-TV: