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Shooter’s mother jailed for hatching escape plan

The mother of Jon Kunkel, the 23-year-old man charged with first-degree murder for last summer’s shooting death of Ron Childers, was arrested Friday for conspiring to help her son escape from jail, according to the King County Sheriff’s Department.

Julia Brock, who moved to Vashon from Oklahoma shortly before the Aug. 19 incident, was also arrested for witness tampering, the sheriff’s department reports. She was released Saturday on $7,500 bail.

John Urquhart, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, said the department could not “reveal the source of our information and what led us to begin the investigation” into Brock. Asked if the two conspired during a jail house meeting, he said, “Mom and kid did talk in jail.”

Meanwhile, David McCoy, a Vashon housepainter and key witness in the murder case, told The Beachcomber on Monday that he is the subject of the witness tampering investigation. He said he got a call from the sheriff’s department last Thursday telling him he was in danger and that the sheriff’s department wanted to get him off of the Island. McCoy was one of the tenants in the boarding-house-like home on 87th Avenue S.W. that Kunkel owned and where he allegedly shot and killed Childers.

“They said I was not to return to Vashon,” said McCoy, who called the paper from an undisclosed location. “I’m really sick about this because I grew up on that Island, and I have a lot of ties to the Island.”

Kunkel, who is scheduled to stand trial in King County Superior Court on Feb. 18, was arrested in his home on Dec. 6; he has remained in custody since then. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 1.

According to police reports, Kunkel and Childers were in an ongoing dispute over money Childers allegedly owed him in the weeks before the shooting occurred. Childers, a handyman and landscaper, lived in another home owned by Kunkel — this one in the Fir Ridge neighborhood — where he was behind on rent. On Aug. 19, the two men were having a conversation about the back rent and other debts when tenants in the home heard three shots. Childers died on the scene.

Kunkel, who admitted to the shooting, said he pulled the trigger of his 12-gauge shotgun in self-defense.

After the incident, according to police reports, McCoy told investigators that Kunkel told him he planned to get Childers angry enough that he could kill him in self-defense. A month before the incident, he said, Kunkel and McCoy drove to an off-Island gun shop where they shopped for guns.

Kunkel has pleaded not guilty to the crime. His lawyer, James White of Vashon, could not be reached for comment.

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