Ex army commando, 34, is charged with murders of husband and wife ‘after bitter parking row escalated’
An ex-army commando has been charged with the murders of a married couple who were allegedly stabbed to death over a bitter parking row in Somerset.
IT teacher Stephen Chapple, 36, and his garden centre coffee shop worker wife Jennifer, 33, were found with serious injuries at their £250,000 home in Norton Fitzwarren near Taunton on Sunday night and died at the scene while their two sons slept upstairs.
The incident is alleged to be linked to a long running dispute over parking, as neighbours left their cars outside each other’s drivers, causing them to be blocked in.
Avon and Somerset Police tonight confirmed that Collin Reeves, 34, has been charged with the murders and will appear at Taunton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
Avon and Somerset Police tonight confirmed that Collin Reeves, 34 (pictured), has been charged with the murders
The Chapples were found seriously injured at their house on Sunday night. They are pictured together on their wedding day
Police at the scene of the deaths on the Dragon Rise estate in Norton Fitzwarren
‘You lit up the street with your smile’: Friends pay tribute to couple
Friends have paid tribute to the Chapples in notes left at the scene.
One heartfelt message on one read: ‘Jennifer you lit up the street with your smile. You and Steve have been such wonderful friends since you arrived in our lives. Such a kind and welcoming couple.
‘You have left a void that will be felt across all those who knew you. Words cannot express how much we’ll miss you both.’
Another message said: ‘Jenni, chick I bloody miss you.
‘Thank you for the laughter, joy and craziness you brought into my life. And thank you for sharing your family.’
One unnamed resident who lived nearby to the couple, and whose children went to the same school and Jenny and Steven’s, said: ‘Jennifer was always very chatty and she loved dogs – she’d run up to every dog she saw.
‘Steve was also a lovely man – he seemed to be very devoted to his children.’
Another nearby resident called Barbara, aged 40, said: ‘I wasn’t close to the family but whenever I saw Jennifer she was ever so friendly and was always smiling.
‘She was always really happy and would stop for a laugh and a joke. Her hair was always bright – just like her personality. They will both be dearly missed.’
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.’
He added: ‘I’d like to remind both the media and the public that criminal proceedings are now active and Collin Reeves has a right to a fair trial.
‘It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.’
Detectives confirmed at a press conference yesterday that the couple’s two children, five and six, were in their upstairs bedrooms while the attack took place.
They were found ‘distressed’ but unhurt and are now being looked after by Jenny’s sister at a home nearby, neighbours said.
Avon and Somerset Police said post-mortem examinations found both Ms Chapple, 33, and her 36-year-old husband died from multiple stab wounds.
The force said the incident on the Dragon Rise estate would be referred to the policing watchdog due to ‘prior police contact with those involved’.
Over the last few days, tributes from those who knew and worked with the couple have flooded in.
Gregg Mockridge, Headteacher at West Somerset College, where Mr Chapple worked, 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.’
Mr Reeves (pictured) lived in a three-bedroom property on a new-build estate in the Somerset village of Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, next door to IT teacher Stephen Chapple, 36, and his garden centre worker wife Jenny, 33
A picture showing Stephen and Jenny that was left next to a pile of flowers outside Dragon Rise. It is pictured this morning
Rob Brooks, manager of the Otter Garden Centre, where Mrs Chapple worked in the coffee shop, told MailOnline: ‘She was a well loved member of staff and a very kind person.
‘We all loved her and so did the customers. We are devastated. We will remember her as a beautiful, kind and dedicated mother and colleague. This has hit us all very hard and it feels very raw.’
Mr Brooks said that Mrs Chapple had been working at the garden centre since the start of the year.
He added: ‘Stephen and the kids would sometimes come in and we got to know them too. They were a really close knit, loving family.’
Neighbours living on the new build estate around Dragon Rise described the area as quiet, with one describing the victims as ‘very friendly’.
‘I knew them by sight but I didn’t know their names, my dog used to really like the lady.’
Another neighbour said he had not realised anything was wrong even when the air ambulance arrived, and had believed it had just been from the nearby military base.
‘We slept through it all – we only saw all of the police and the tape this morning,’ he said.
Others said they heard screams and later the police and emergency services arriving.
A police cordon is still in place at two properties on the street while officers carry out a forensic examination of the scene.