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Father in West Plains is charged with drowning young son

April 12, 2011|by Marie Saavedra, KY3 News | newsalerts@ky3.com

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- A father is now charged with killing his 4-year-old son on Monday.  Howell County prosecutors charged Eric Chappelle, 38, with first-degree murder, abuse of a child resulting in death, assault on a law enforcement officer, and two counts of armed criminal action.

A detective's probable cause statement used as the basis of the charges says Chappelle admitted he drowned 4-year-old Jacob in the bathroom of his home.  Police say Chappelle told them he is accused of molesting two female relatives, and did not want to live with those allegations, so he decided to kill himself and his son.

Police say Chapelle’s co-workers called 911 from his home on Monday afternoon.  They went to check on the father and son when the pair didn’t show up for work or at a childcare center.  The caller told dispatchers the child wasn’t breathing.  When officers arrived, Jacob was dead and on a couch.

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“When officers got there, they spoke to the father, and there was some kind of incident, then the father attempted to assault the officers with the knife. He was taken into custody at that time and transferred to the hospital,” said Officer Bryan Brauer with the West Plains Police Department. 

The "incident," according to a second probable cause statement, was Chappelle had a large knife and was trying to stab himself in the stomach and chest.  A co-worker held Chappelle's arms as police tried to get him to drop the knife.  Officers say Chappelle swung the knife at officers, causing Officer Richard Rhoads to draw his service gun. 

Chappelle dropped the knife and cursed at officers, according to Rhoads' statement, and Rhoads used his electric stun gun on the father, disabling him and allowing officers to get handcuffs on him.  Chappelle was treated at the hospital in West Plains, and officers got a search warrant so they could collect evidence at the scene.

The boy’s mother was notified by a family friend.  She lives in Thomasville, Alabama.  Officers say she and Chappelle were recently divorced.  Detectives say they are not looking for any other suspects in the Jacob’s death.

Chappelle remained in the hospital on Tuesday.  A judge has ordered him held in lieu of a $500,000 bond.

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