After Wife Swap: The Stockdale Family Murders

Pop Culture Crime
4 min readJul 13, 2019
Photo via New York Daily News

Anybody who paid attention to reality television in the 2000s had at least heard of the show Wife Swap. As the better version of Trading Spouses, the show claimed to offer families a glimpse into different lifestyles. In most cases, this meant a very neat and tidy mother was sent to live with a very messy family. If you were very religious, you were sent to live with somebody who wasn’t.

The Stockdale family appeared on Wife Swap as one of those deeply religious families. When they appeared on the show in 2008, nobody could have expected they would later see the family featured on television again, this time as part of a murder investigation.

The Stockdale Family on Wife Swap

As introduced in Wife Swap, the Stockdale family consisted of mother Kathy (or Kathryn, age 44), father Tim (48), and children Calvin (19), Charles (16), Jacob (15), and James (11).

As the show depicted, the Stockdale parents strictly managed the media their sons could watch. Each son could do chores around the house to earn tokens, with which they could earn time to listen to the radio — but certainly not pop or rap music. The boys could not date or curse, even though at least one son was an adult.

The story goes that Kathy and Tim became afraid of living in the city, fearing that their sons would be exposed to bad influences. They moved to the Beach City, Ohio, area and established a homestead where they began farming and apparently clog-dancing.

On their episode, Kathy Stockdale swapped places with the matriarch of the Tonkovic family. Of course, the Tonkovic family appeared quite liberal in contrast to the Stockdales. The woman Kathy swapped with cries about the treatment of the boys several times in the episode.

If you want to read the family’s rules from the show, you can find them here:

The family manual specifically cites a desire to leave behind “rap music” in addition to “violent language” and “sexual…

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Pop Culture Crime

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