After Wife Swap: The Stockdale Family Murders

After Wife Swap: The Stockdale Family Murders

Image for postPhoto via New York Daily News

Anybody who paid attention to reality television in the 2000s had at least heard of the show Wife Swap. As the better version of Trading Spouses, the show claimed to offer families a glimpse into different lifestyles. In most cases, this meant a very neat and tidy mother was sent to live with a very messy family. If you were very religious, you were sent to live with somebody who wasn?t.

The Stockdale family appeared on Wife Swap as one of those deeply religious families. When they appeared on the show in 2008, nobody could have expected they would later see the family featured on television again, this time as part of a murder investigation.

The Stockdale Family on Wife Swap

As introduced in Wife Swap, the Stockdale family consisted of mother Kathy (or Kathryn, age 44), father Tim (48), and children Calvin (19), Charles (16), Jacob (15), and James (11).

As the show depicted, the Stockdale parents strictly managed the media their sons could watch. Each son could do chores around the house to earn tokens, with which they could earn time to listen to the radio ? but certainly not pop or rap music. The boys could not date or curse, even though at least one son was an adult.

The story goes that Kathy and Tim became afraid of living in the city, fearing that their sons would be exposed to bad influences. They moved to the Beach City, Ohio, area and established a homestead where they began farming and apparently clog-dancing.

On their episode, Kathy Stockdale swapped places with the matriarch of the Tonkovic family. Of course, the Tonkovic family appeared quite liberal in contrast to the Stockdales. The woman Kathy swapped with cries about the treatment of the boys several times in the episode.

If you want to read the family?s rules from the show, you can find them here:

Stockdale Family Manual

WELCOME TO OUR HOME! We’re not just a family we’re a band – the ‘Stockdale Family Band’. We play bluegrass in barn?

The family manual specifically cites a desire to leave behind ?rap music? in addition to ?violent language? and ?sexual influences.? Instead, the boys would process chickens and perform other chores in exchange for tokens with which they could earn sticks of gum and radio privileges.

The family also had a bluegrass band, simply known as the Stockdale Family Band. Kathy often posted videos of her family performing in their band. As Calvin and Charles grew older, they left the family band and moved out.

The band was apparently somewhat successful, and in June of 2017 the band was booked throughout the summer. Kathy, the manager of the band, had seemingly done a good job of keeping the band busy.

The 911 Call

On June 15, 2017, Stark County police received a 911 call at 4:36 p.m. in which the caller hung up the phone. Deputies headed to the location of the call, where they found the front door of the residence open. As they neared the door, they saw a figure just inside. They heard a gunshot and called for backup, continuing toward the house.

Jacob had shot his mother, Kathy, and his younger brother, James, 21. Both were killed.

He then shot himself. He was alive, but barely.

Responding officers found Kathryn upstairs in a bathroom. The figure near the front door was James.

Local police officers had never received calls out to that home before, and they described Jacob as somebody they never had problems with in the past. While the two older brothers no longer lived at home, Jacob and James did. Timothy was out of the house when the incident occurred.

Remembering Kathy and James

Timothy described his wife of 32 years as a ?wonderful mother? who also loved being a grandmother. He also remarked on her ?strong love of learning? and passions in ?Christian faith, natural health, and organic farming.?

Calvin?s statement regarding James described him as ?a catalyst of family fun? and a ?gifted musician.? James had a dream of learning more about the entertainment business when his life was cut short.

An Ongoing Ordeal

Police can only speculate about a motive for the murders at this time. Investigators believe Jacob used a .20-gauge shotgun to commit the murders and to shoot himself.

The indictment process was slow in this case because Jacob was in the hospital recovering from his self-inflicted injuries. After he received medical treatment, he was arrested in September 2018, longer than one year after the murders. He was charged with two counts of murder, and he entered a plea of not guilty.

In January 2019, Jacob attended a short hearing with his defense attorney. The attorney requested a psychological evaluation, his second. In May, Jacob was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility because he was deemed not mentally competent to stand trial. In the meantime, Jacob?s court case is delayed. His competency is expected to be restored within one year.

Timothy Stockdale, Jacob?s father, has attended every court hearing.


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