Jacob Stockdale, who once appeared on an episode of Wife Swap with his family, has officially been charged with murder for killing his mom and brother, having turned himself in to authorities in Ohio last month. He pleaded not guilty to the double murder charges.
The 26-year-old allegedly shot his mom, Kathryn, 54, and his 21-year-old brother, James, in June 2017. He turned the gun on himself and shot himself in the head, suffering self-inflicted head and brain injuries that required extensive medical treatment.
A grand jury in Stark County, Ohio issued a secret indictment in September. Stockdale turned himself in shortly afterward at the Stark County Sheriff's Office, reports the Canton Rep.
"Anytime you've got a situation involving murders with family members it's very tragic ... but now Mr. Stockdale has to face the consequences," Stark County prosecutor John D. Ferrero said.
The indictment alleges that Stockdale purposefully shot and killed his mother and youngest brother at their family home on June 15, 2017. He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment at the end of September. He faces 15 years to life in prison on each of the murder charges if he's convicted. Ferrero told TMZ that the grand jury decided the death penalty was not an appropriate punishment.
Prosecutors said they held off charging him until he had recovered from the gunshot wound, which they say he has done now to the point where he can walk and communicate with others. He was previously hospitalized for an extensive period, then treated at a medical rehabilitation facility before living with a family member in Columbus, Ohio.
"We didn't feel that he was a flight risk of any sort, plus we knew he had extensive [physical injuries] that he incurred when he shot himself," Ferrero said. "As far as his mental capacity, it's up to [defense attorney Wayne Graham] to file motions. And we're content with that at the time."
Prosecutors have not commented on motive for the killings.
Stockdale and other family members were known throughout their hometown for their popular bluegrass band, the Stockdale Family Band, having performed at fairs and other venues. The family was also featured on a 2008 episode of Wife Swap, hailing themselves as a strict, religious family.
In the episode, Kathryn Stockdale listed all the rules she had for the family, including homeschooling, controlling what music they listen to, and banning Jacob Stockdale and his brothers from going on dates.
"It's important we have control over their character and education," she said.
"I have never been on a date," Jacob said in the episode. "There's better ways to find out about girls than dating."
After the killings, Jacob Stockdale's father, Tim Stockdale, released a statement. "Kathy has been my beloved wife of 32 years and a wonderful mother to our four sons," he said, according to News.com. "She had a strong love of learning and was passionate about her Christian faith, natural health and organic farming."
Tim Stockdale was not home during the shootings, nor were Jacob Stockdale's older brothers, who lived in different cities. Calvin Stockdale, the eldest brother, also issued a statement regarding his late brother, James.
"James, our youngest brother, has always been a catalyst of family fun. Aside from being a gifted musician, James enjoyed dancing and had an innate love of people," Calvin Stockdale said. "James was working on a business degree and hoped to go into the business side of entertainment. He leaves behind many friends and a family that love him dearly."1comments
Graham said after Stockdale's arraignment that Tim Stockdale and the surviving two brothers are supportive of Stockdale.
At the time of the shooting, James Stockdale was enrolled in business management classes at the Kent State University Stark and Tuscarawas campuses, with hopes to pursue the business side of the entertainment world, reports the Canton Rep.