Mother Speaks Out About Charges Against Estranged Husband in Death of Four-Year-Old Son
West Plains, Mo—
A West Plains dad is in the Howell County Jail accused of drowning his son in a murder suicide attempt. Prosecutors say the man wanted to avoid child molestation accusations but officers kept him from killing himself.
Four-year-old Jacob Chappelle's mother says her estranged husband took her son from her at a gas station. Before the divorce filed last month was finalized and custody decided, prosecutors say Jacob's father chose to kill the boy.
Heather Chappelle will never see her four-year-old son alive again. “He was a good child. He didn't deserve what he got. He was a good baby,” Chappelle said. “I'm just a destroyed mom that's all I can say.”
Police say Jacob's father Eric Chappelle, 38, drowned the boy inside his West Plains home. When he didn't show up to work at a propane company, Chappelle's boss and landlord came to check on him. “They checked where the child went to daycare and the child wasn't in daycare either,” West Plains Officer Bryan Brauer said. “That kind of alarmed them that's why they went to check.” They called 911. When officers arrived the child was already dead.
According to court documents, once in custody Chappelle told officers he was accused of molesting two girls and did not want to be labeled a child molester and chose to kill his son and himself instead. “If he went through with murdering my son and then trying to kill himself then those allegations must be true,” Heather Chappelle said. “That's how I feel.”
Officers won't say exactly what happened to the boy but court documents say his father drowned him. An autopsy will be performed Thursday. “I wasn't able to talk to my son for two weeks before he did what he did and I didn't get to say goodbye,” Heather Chappelle said. “I didn't get to hold my baby one last time that's the hardest part.”
Chappelle faces more charges because officers say he tried to attack them with a knife after trying to stab himself in the stomach. He is charged with two counts of attempted assault on a law enforcement officer and two counts of armed criminal action. “When confronted with officers he did drop the knife and a Taser was used to subdue him,” Brauer said.
Instead of a court battle over custody, Chappelle will face criminal charges and a mother will not get the chance to bring her son home. “I don't want him to have the electric chair because that will be the easy way out for him,” Heather Chappelle said. “I want him to spend every day thinking about what he has done.”
Heather Chappelle says because of domestic violence she moved to Alabama. She spoke to KSPR News by phone. She says she will come to the Ozarks on Thursday to receive her son's body. Police would not release any details about the child molestation accusations against Chappelle.
Chappelle is held inside the Howell County Jail on a $500,000 cash only bond. He was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, treated and released. He's also charged with child abuse resulting in death.