Sheriff’s office makes arrest in fatal attack on Auxvasse family

Son dead, father in critical condition

— A local man is in custody on charges of murder and assault in connection with an attack on a father and son early Saturday.

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Jake Gastler

According to a press release from the Callaway County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded at 12:58 a.m. to a call for an apparent assault at a residence on Blue Ridge Road east of Auxvasse. The release states that Jake Gastler, 22, called to report finding two of his neighbors lying on the ground covered with blood.

Upon arrival, deputies found two white male victims, identified as Zachery W. O’Conner, 30, and his father, Michael W. O’Conner, 57. Zachery O’Conner was determined to be deceased. Michael O’Conner was transported by helicopter to University Hospital in Columbia, where he remains in critical condition as of Saturday afternoon.

Sheriff Dennis Crane said Saturday afternoon that although Gastler claimed to have found the O’Conners in that condition, further investigation showed some inconsistencies with that story. Gastler was arrested and charged with murder for the death of Zachery O’Conner and assault for the injuries sustained by Michael O’Conner.

“(Gastler) told us he found them that way, but he told others something different. Things just didn’t line up,” Crane said. “Between interviews, statements and evidence, we have charged him.”

Crane said he could not provide details because of the ongoing investigation, but did say that deputies determined that “there was an altercation between the suspect and the two individuals, and the results of that altercation led to the charges.”

He also would not say what type of weapon was involved, noting only that both victims “had trauma to the face.”

An autopsy on Zachery O’Conner is scheduled for Monday.

Gastler was taken to the Callaway County Jail where he is being held on $700,000 bond.

According to online court records through Missouri Casenet, Gastler pleaded guilty in February to two charges of third degree domestic assault for an incident in September 2012 in Montgomery County. He was sentenced to 270 days in jail and two years supervised probation on both charges, with suspended execution of sentence.

A court date has not yet been scheduled for his current charges of homicide and assault.

Law enforcement and emergency responders with the North Callaway Fire Protection District, Missouri State Highway Patrol and Department of Conservation also assisted with the response and investigation.

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