The Daily Mail reported that James Hodgkinson, the left-wing gunman who shot at Republican congressmen on Wednesday, fostered a 17-year-old girl named Wanda Ashley Stock in 1996.
Months after joining the Hodgkinson family, Stock committed suicide by dousing herself in gasoline and lighting herself on fire. Her body was found in her burned car on the side of a road.
Stock had previously attempted to commit suicide, a part of her history not known to the Hodgkinsons until after her death. The Hodgkinsons also learned that her boyfriend had recently broken up with her.
Born in 1979, she became a ward of the state of Illinois in 1984. Her biological parents terminated lawful guardianship over her. She lived in various foster care arrangements until joining the Hodgkinsons in 1996.
Wanda Ashley Stock in 1996.
The Hodgkinsons described Stock as a “very practical, level-headed girl” in an interview with the Belleville News-Democrat (BND) shortly after Stock’s death.
In 2002, the Hodgkinsons became legal guardians of their 12-year-old great-niece, Cathy Lynn Putnam. Putnam had lived in both foster care and with the Hodgkinsons since age 4; her biological parents’ guardianship over her had been revoked. In 2006, Putnam was returned to state custody; court documents not providing a reason.
Hodgkinson’s relationship with Putnam is reported to have worsened in 2006, following a domestic assault incident; Hodgkinson punched a 19-year-old female friend of Putnam’s in the face inside a neighbor’s home and then pointed a shotgun at another friend of Putnam’s. Charges against him related to the incident were later dismissed.
Hodgkinson lived in a rural part of Belleville, Illinois. He is said to have regularly fired guns on is property — shooting at a tree — according to his neighbor Aaron Meurer.
“I didn’t really talk to him too much,” Meurer said. “He was a Democrat and I was a Republican, so we didn’t have too much to talk about.”
BND reported that Hodgkinson was a “strong Bernie Sanders supporter” and participated in political events such as demonstrations against “income inequality.”
H/T Chris Spargo at The Daily Mail.
H/T Elizabeth Donald and Lexi Cortes at Belleville News-Democrat.
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