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23 November 2021

Mother-of-two stabbed to death while her children were asleep upstairs

23 November 2021

A woman killed in a double murder in Somerset was stabbed to death while her children were asleep upstairs, according to police.

A post-mortem examination confirmed Jennifer Chapple, 33, died of multiple stab wounds following an incident in Dragon Rise, Norton Fitzwarren, at around 9.45pm on Sunday.

Ms Chapple and her 36-year-old husband Stephen Chapple were both found with serious injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Their two young sons, aged five and six, were found asleep upstairs following the incident, police said.

Police tape around the street sign for Dragon Rise in Norton Fitzwarren (Tess De La Mare/PA) (PA Wire)

The post-mortem examination to determine Mr Chapple’s cause of death is still ongoing, Avon and Somerset Police confirmed.

The couple had previously been involved in rows about parking with a neighbour, nearby residents told the PA news agency.

Mr Chapple taught computing at the nearby West Somerset College, while his wife worked in customer services at a garden centre.

The couple’s youngest son had just started primary school.

Gregg Mockridge, headteacher at West Somerset College, paid tribute to Mr Chapple, saying he would be “sadly missed”.

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.”

This is a tragic incident which has shocked the community and neighbourhood officers are patrolling the area to provide reassurance

Two men, aged 34 and 67, were arrested on suspicion of murder on Sunday evening.

The older man has been released under investigation while magistrates have granted an extension to the custody time limit in relation to a 34-year-old.

Police cordons remain at two properties on Dragon Rise as officers continue to examine them.

Due to prior contact with the couple, Avon and Somerset Police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Neil Meade said: “What happened to Stephen and Jennifer is utterly heart-breaking 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.”

He added: “This is a tragic incident which has shocked the community and neighbourhood officers are patrolling the area to provide reassurance. Should anyone have any concerns about what happened I’d encourage them to talk to them.”

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