A former soldier has been charged with the murder of a husband and wife who died at their home in a Somerset village as their children slept upstairs.
Collin Reeves, 34, is accused of murdering his neighbours Stephen Chapple, 36, a teacher, and Jennifer Chapple, 33, who worked in a coffee shop.
Despite the desperate attempts of paramedics, the Chapples died of their wounds at their home in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton.
When police arrived they found the couple’s children, five and six years old, still asleep. Officers ushered them away, not allowing them to see their parents’ bodies.
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset police said: “We’ve charged a 34-year-old man with the murders of Jennifer and Stephen Chapple in Norton Fitzwarren on Sunday.
“Collin Reeves, of Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, remains in police custody and is due to appear at Taunton magistrates court [on 25 November].
“Jennifer and Stephen were formally identified earlier today. Postmortem examinations concluded they both died from multiple stab wounds.”
Reeves was a commando engineer, a role that supports the Royal Marines. A 67-year-old man who was also arrested as part of the inquiry has been released and remains under investigation.
DI Neil Meade, of the police’s 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.”
Avon and Somerset police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog because of previous contacts with some of those involved.
Tributes poured in for the Chapples, who were popular members of the community.
Rob Brooks, the manager of Otter garden centre in Taunton, said: “Jenny joined us at the beginning of this year and worked in our coffee shop. She was a respected member of the team and was well liked by all her colleagues.”
Gregg Mockridge, the headteacher of West Somerset college, said: “Steve was a fantastic colleague, 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.”