Grand jury hands down charges in Mid-Missouri murder

AUXVASSE, Mo. - A grand jury in Callaway County handed down new charges on Thursday for a suspect accused of killing his neighbor last summer and seriously assaulting the victim's father. Jake Gastler now faces one charge of second degree murder and two counts of first degree assault.

The attack happened early August 31 at a home at 1091 Blue Ridge Road off State Road B, east of Auxvasse. Originally, Gastler told authorities he found his next-door neighbors lying on the floor covered with blood.

One of the victims, identified as Zachery W. O'Connor, 30, of Auxvasse, was pronounced dead at the scene. The father of the first victim, 57-year-old Michael W. O'Connor, was taken by helicopter to University Hospital in Columbia in critical condition.

Gastler said he found the men in this condition, but deputies say the evidence collected and Gastler's account of the events did not match.

Gastler's mother told ABC 17 News he is a war veteran who's non-violent and struggling to cope with his experience in Afghanistan. He is set to be arraigned February 24.

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