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Man in custody for Callaway County murder

Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:00:31 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 02 2013 04:15:32 PM CDT
Jake Gastler

Jake Gastler

AUXVASSE, Mo. -

A suspect is in custody in Callaway County after allegedly killing his neighbor and and assaulting the victim's father.

Callaway County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an assault around 1 a.m. Saturday. The assault occurred at a home at 1091 Blue Ridge Road off State Road B, east of Auxvasse.

The suspect, Jake Gastler, originally told authorities he found two of his next door neighbors lying on the floor covered with blood.

Deputies arrived and discovered two white male victims.

One victim, identified as Zachery W. O’Connor, 30, of Auxvasse, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The other victim, 57-year-old Michael W. O’Connor, the father of other victim, was taken to University Hospital in Columbia by helicopter in critical condition. As of Monday afternoon, he had been upgraded to serious condition.

Gastler told authorities that he found the victims in this condition, however, deputies say the evidence collected and Gastler's account of events didn't match. Investigators then arrested him.

Gastler is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault assault. He is being held on a $700,000 bond in the Callaway County Jail.

Neighbors of the O'Connors say they are in shock.

"I didn't think something like this down here would happen," said Clint Litel. "Mike O'Connor, he pretty much stays to himself."

Every neighbor who talked to ABC 17 News said Michael O'Connor was very friendly and got along with everyone.

But Gastler's parents said their son had always said otherwise.

Gastler's mother said he would talk about how it was common for Michael to argue with his son, Zachery.

She told ABC 17 News that Gastler is not a violent person and was a war veteran struggling to cope with his experience in Afghanistan.

The family said they had no further comment on the investigation at this time.

Stay with ABC 17 for more information.

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