The Wife Swap Murders

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I just loved the series “Wife Swap”. They would take two moms from completely different walks of life and opposite parenting methods; the moms would switch families, and we would watch what happened. It really shouldn’t be a surprise than something crazy could happen to a family from the show, a few made the news.

The outrageous Keene clan

For instance, on October 15th of 2009, Richard and Mayumi Heene, who had appeared on a 2008 episode of the show, called 911 claiming that their 6 year old son had accidentally taken off into the air on a homemade weather balloon. Panicked officials did everything in their power to rescue the child, no expenses were spared. Hours later it was discovered that the kid had been at home, hiding, all along. The Heenes later gave a morning show interview in which the child accidentally admitted that the “balloon boy” fiasco was just a hoax! Needless to say, everyone involved in the rescue, the entire town, all were infuriated. Not only were they all terribly stressed while thinking the child’s life was in danger, but it cost the county so much money. There were helicopters chasing that UFO shaped balloon! In 2010, not only were Richard and Mayumi ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution, but they both were sentence to serve a month in jail. A few years later they tried to seek fame again by turning the family into a heavy metal band.

Then there is the Stockdale family; who would’ve expected tragedy to strike this wholesome bunch?

Above photo, from left: Calvin, Jacob, James, and father Tim Stockdale. In below photo, mother Kathryn.

The Stockdale family appeared on the show in 2008. Kathryn Stockdale was a super-strict, religious, and controlling mom from Canton, Ohio. The father, Tim, and their 4 boys had a very popular bluegrass act: “The Stockdale Family Band”. They were all pretty decent, too- better than decent – the family was loaded with talent! Check out the YouTube videos, even if you’re not a bluegrass music fan surely you can still appreciate their talents. I’ll link you below.

Mama Kathy was into healthy living, a farmsteader who grew her own veggies and raised her own animals to feed her family. The boys were all homeschooled, not allowed to date or even socialize much at all, and had to do chores around their farm in order to earn coins if they wished to partake in any sort of entertainment such as listen to the radio for an allotted amount of time; approved listening only, mind you, as they were not to be corrupted by pop music or culture. There were absolutely no swear words, video games, no TV, or internet within this household. What they had was togetherness, chores, religion, and their band. Sure, it was pretty darn strict, but it made for great tv and the family seemed “wholesome” enough. Sorry to keep repeating that word, but no other word sums them up as well. On the show they swapped with Illinois’ Tonkovic family, who were the Stockdales family’s polar opposites, as per usual.

After the show, the Stockdale family continued living their lives as they had before. They kept on doing their shows and entering competitions, individually and as a group, in which they often won. Their community has stated that the family had always been much respected and loved; the Stockdale family had been looked up to as role models.

Fast forward to 2017- Mom Kathryn was now 54, she was still handling the business end of the family band but also enjoying being a Grandma. James, the youngest brother and accomplished bass player, was 21 years old and enrolled at Kent State University Stark. He was getting his degree in business, planning to help mama with handling the family’s finances. Jacob, the third Stockdale son and fiddle player, was 25 and it appears that he was still focusing on his music. Along with Tim, the father, these 4 continued to live and work together; the two older brothers, Charles and Calvin, had moved away when they became old enough to attend college. They were still included in the family musical act whenever they came home to visit.

At a little past 4:30 on the afternoon of June 15th of 2017 there had been a 911 call placed from the Stockdale home; it was a hang-up call. When Police arrived to check on the family, they heard a gunshot; upon entering the home they found that Jacob had shot his mama, his baby brother, then had turned the 20 gauge shotgun on himself. Miraculously Jacob survived the shot to the head; he sustained serious brain injuries and had to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries, but he did survive. Sadly, his mother and brother were already deceased when police found them. Tim had been on his way home from work when he received the devastating call from police.

Father and the two older brothers claimed that they had no idea that there had ever been any issues at all within the family. Not a single Stockade had any history of violence, police had never been summoned to the residence, none had any sort of criminal record, nor were there any known mental health issues. Now this isn’t to say that Jacob hadn’t been mentally ill; mother had been all about healthy living and religion. She didn’t seem like the type to take her children to a psychologist no matter how badly they needed one – I could easily be wrong about this.


No one who knew the family could think of a single reason for this to happen, except Mrs. Tonkovik, the mom who Kathryn has swapped with years earlier. She gave an interview stating that she wasn’t surprised that there had been trouble within the family. The boys were never allowed to make any decisions, interact with people their own age, and she feels the overbearingness caught up with them.

Jacob in court

Calvin, the oldest brother, went on record soon after the tragedy happened; he said that he had fully forgiven Jacob, and asked that people please pray for his brother’s recovery.
Jacob’s lawyer is going for a not guilty by reason of insanity defense; the trial was set for April of 2019 but the defendant was found mentally incompetent. While the death penalty is not in the table, if convicted, this young man could serve the rest of his life in prison. Hopefully during the trial we will finally have some answers.
As always, I promise to update the minute I hear something new.

*As promised, I’m here with an update. In April of this year, a now 28 year old Jacob pleaded guilty to murdering his mother and brother. He’s been sentenced to 30 years to life.

A video of the Stockdales performing

*Though I have searched and searched for a link to the wife swap season 4 episode 14, I can not find it. It appears to have been removed from literally everywhere. If you know where to find this, please let me know; I’d love to rewatch!

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4 Replies to “The Wife Swap Murders”

  1. This was just one of the episodes they permanently removed. There was a suspected case of spousal abuse, and one of incest that I can remember. The tapes were turned over to police for closer inspection, including parts not aired. I can only assume the police still have the tapes and all record of them in the net has been erased.

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