In 2008, the Stockdale family appeared on the reality TV show, Wife Swap. The premise of the show is that two wives/mothers with different family values, beliefs, income levels and/or situations trade homes for 2 weeks. The first week, the new mother lives the lifestyle of the family she has joined. The second week, she makes rules in order to share her family experiences/beliefs in her new situation. Before the women go home, both couples meet and debrief.
In the Stockdale/Tonkovic episode, Kathy Stockdale traded homes with Laurie Tonkovic. The Stockdales were a family that moved to the country in Ohio to avoid the temptations and dangers of city living. Their children (one of which was 19 years old during filming) did chores on the family farm to earn tokens they could cash in for treats, like gum, or to listen to wholesome radio programs. The Tonkovics were a family living in the city that were not strict with their children, instead choosing to be their friends.
The Stockdale boys were Calvin, Charles, Jacob and James. Along with their father, Tim, the boys played in a bluegrass band called The Stockdale Family Band. The children were homeschooled by their mother. They were not allowed to curse or date and the family was “devoutly religious.”
Laurie said in an interview that during her rule change, she wanted the boys to have more freedom. This proved too much for Jacob who broke down. He told Laurie that following her rules would sentence him to hell.
By 2017, Calvin and Charles had moved out of the family home. Tim, Jacob, James and a family friend were still playing in the band. The group had plans to tour county fairs and small venues that summer.
On June 15, someone called 911 from the Stockdale home. The caller hung up and police were dispatched.
As police approached the front door of the home, they heard a gunshot. Inside, they found 26 year old Jacob. He had shot himself in the head with a .20 gauge shotgun, but was still alive.
In an upstairs bathroom, 54 year old Kathy lay dead. 21 year old James was also dead in the home. They too had been shot by Jacob. Tim was not home at the time.
Neighbors reported hearing as many as 12 gunshots the day of the shooting.
Jacob spent over a year in the hospital. He received reconstructive surgery and had to learn how to walk and talk again.
When he was released from the hospital in September 2018, he was arrested for murder. It is believed that he was not arrested during his hospital stay because the county did not want to be responsible for his medical bills.
In May 2019, Jacob was transferred from jail to a mental health facility. It was declared that he was not mentally competent to stand trial.
In January 2019, Jacob entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury decided that he would not face the death penalty if convicted.
If Jacob is found guilty, he is facing 15-30 years in prison.
A video summary of this week’s post can be found at