Collin Reeves: Ex-soldier charged with murdering husband and wife Stephen and Jennifer Chapple

The former commando Royal Engineer is accused of killing his next door neighbours

Lamiat Sabin
Wednesday 24 November 2021 19:08
<p>Tributes left near the scene at Dragon Rise in Norton Fitzwarren for Jennifer and Stephen Chapple</p>

Tributes left near the scene at Dragon Rise in Norton Fitzwarren for Jennifer and Stephen Chapple

A former soldier has been accused of stabbing a couple to death in Somerset while their children were asleep in their beds.

Collin Reeves, 34, has been charged with the double murder of his next door neighbours, husband and wife Stephen, 36, and Jennifer Chapple, 33, in the village of Norton Fitzwarren.

The father-of-two and former commando Royal Engineer will appear at Taunton magistrates’ court tomorrow (25 November).

A murder investigation led by Avon and Somerset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team was launched following the deaths at a property on Dragon Rise at about 9.45pm on Sunday evening.

The couple were found with serious injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Their sons, aged five and six, were found by police officers asleep upstairs and are now being looked after by family members.

Detective Inspector Neil Meade, of the Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Specialist officers are providing support to Jennifer and Stephen’s families and our thoughts remain with them this evening.

“We’ve been keeping them fully updated on the progress of our investigation and they’re aware of this latest development.

“It is undoubtedly an extremely difficult time for them and I’d ask their privacy is respected as they continue to come to terms with what has happened.”

Reeves and a 67-year old man were arrested on suspicion of murder on Sunday evening. The older man has been released under investigation.

A post-mortem examination confirmed Ms Chapple, who worked at a garden centre, died of multiple stab wounds.

A post-mortem examination to determine IT teacher Mr Chapple’s cause of death is still ongoing, Avon and Somerset Police said.

Doorbell footage has emerged of Ms Chapple in an argument with a man on her doorstep just weeks before she was killed.

Chief Insp Justin French has said: “There had been [police] callouts in the past.”

Due to prior contact with the couple, Avon and Somerset Police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Mr Meade said: “What happened to Stephen and Jennifer is utterly heart-breaking and I can’t begin to imagine the impact their deaths will have on their two children.

“Family liaison officers are supporting both families and keeping them updated on the progress of our investigation.

“I appreciate there is significant interest in what happened and I’d ask people not to speculate and to think about the impact it may have on the families.”

Rob Brooks, manager at the Otter Garden Centre Ms Chapple worked at, said: “She was a well-loved and respected member of the team, a lovely, kind-hearted lady and a devoted mother.

“It’s still raw at the moment for all the staff. Our hearts go out to those children that are left behind.”

Gregg Mockridge, headteacher at West Somerset College, paid tribute to Mr Chapple, saying he would be “sadly missed”.

He said: “Steve was a fantastic colleague at West Somerset College, a brilliant teacher that cared deeply about the students in his care.

“He led innovations in the use of technology across the school as well as within his own teaching.

“Steve will be sadly missed by all staff and students and our thoughts and prayers go out to his children and wider family at this time.”

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