Couple ‘murdered in dispute over parking space’ while their children slept upstairs
Watch: Murder of Somerset couple 'a shock', says neighbour
Neighbours of a couple killed in a Somerset village have said that "everyone has an issue with parking around here" amid speculation over what led to the deadly dispute.
Married couple Stephen Chapple, 34, and wife Jennifer, 33, were found dead at their home in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, Somerset, on Sunday night while their two sons, aged five and six, slept upstairs.
Mrs Chapple was stabbed to death, police confirmed on Tuesday. Post mortem examinations are still being carried out on her husband.
Mr Chapple taught computing at West Somerset College and his wife worked at Otter Garden Centre at Pen Elm, near Taunton. The couple's youngest son had just started primary school.
The killings are rumoured to be linked to a parking dispute between neighbours in the Taylor Wimpey development, where it is believed that residents are allocated at least one parking space each.
Sharon Sedgbeer, 50, a resident of Dragon Rise, said parking has been a problem because there simply “isn’t enough of it”.
She said: “It’s horrendous. People park at bad angles, on corners, blocking driveways because the spaces are so limited.”
Another resident, Melissa, said “everyone has an issue with parking around here,” adding: "Some people have multiple cars there isn't space for and it has caused a lot of upset."
One man, aged 34, was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody while a second man, aged 67, was arrested and released under investigation.
Magistrates granted police an extension to the custody time limit in relation to a 34-year-old while officers remained at two properties on Dragon Rise as forensics continued to examine them.
Avon and Somerset Police said the incident would be referred to the policing watchdog due to “prior police contact with those involved”.
Detective Inspector Neil Meade, the senior investigating officer, said: “What happened to Stephen and Jennifer is utterly heartbreaking 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.”
Gregg Mockridge, the headteacher at West Somerset College, paid tribute to Mr Chapple.
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."
Rob Brooks, the manager of the garden centre where Mrs Chapple worked, said: "It's still raw at the moment for all the staff. Our hearts go out to those children that are left behind.
"Jenny was a well-loved and respected member of the team. She was a lovely, kind-hearted lady and a devoted mother.
"We are all understandably shocked and saddened by the news and our heartfelt thoughts go out to Jenny’s family and the two children at this very sad time."
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