Crime

In 2014, she hid from her boyfriend in an Idaho hotel. This week, he shot her to death

Jaclyn Zabel was shot to death in late May 2018 by her boyfriend, who then killed himself, authorities say.
Jaclyn Zabel was shot to death in late May 2018 by her boyfriend, who then killed himself, authorities say.

Jaclyn Zabel spent several days in late 2014 at a Holiday Inn Express in north Idaho, hiding from Ian Stone after he’d beaten her in front of their children.

Stone had attacked her, threatened her and was searching for her after the fight, according to a police report from the time. Zabel was a housekeeper at the hotel in Ponderay. Her co-workers provided her shelter in the hotel and initially didn’t call police because Zabel asked them not to, according to the report.

The attack was severe enough to eventually land her in Bonner County Hospital. She sustained bruises to her left eye and temple, a bruise and scratch on her tricep, bruising on her lower legs, chest pains and shortness of breath, according to the police report.

Three and a half years later, Stone shot Zabel to death in Canyon County.

Authorities Monday morning found Jaclyn D. Zabel, 29, and Ian S. Stone, 37, with gunshot wounds to their heads at a home on Wagner Road, west of Caldwell.

They were taken to a Boise hospital, where both died the following day: Zabel Tuesday morning, and Stone on Tuesday evening. An autopsy report stated each died of a single gunshot wound. Stone’s was self-inflicted; Zabel’s was listed as a homicide.

Court records and police reports obtained by the Statesman show Stone was accused twice before of battering his romantic partners. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic battery after his previous wife said he attacked her during an argument. In 2015, he admitted to misdemeanor disturbing the peace and destruction of a telecommunications line after the attack on Zabel.

Stone was the father of two of Zabel’s four children. Family and friends are raising money now to help with Zabel’s funeral expenses and the children’s futures.

Past assaults

Both of Stone’s past criminal cases occurred in Bonner County.

In 2007, Stone and his former wife lived with their two children in Laclede.

On Feb. 22, 2007, Stone’s wife asked a sheriff’s deputy to speak with her at a local hospital. She told the deputy Stone pushed her against a wall and she hit her head on a windowsill. She also claimed Stone pushed her to the ground and “was screaming in her face and was enraged,” according to a copy of the deputy’s report obtained by the Statesman.

The woman told the deputy that when she attempted to walk away, Stone grabbed her arm and dragged her before pinning his knee on her chest and putting his hands on her throat. The woman said she was eventually able to get up; Stone continued screaming at her before slapping her face and grabbing her chin. She had visible redness on her upper chest, clavicle and neck, according to the report.

Deputies arrested Stone for felony domestic battery, according to the report, but he was charged with a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to a diversion program, which means he was ordered to undergo treatment in lieu of a jail sentence.

Both Stone and Zabel were hearing-impaired. So, a Ponderay police report from seven years later notes that Zabel first described her abuse to a friend in writing.

“I was trying to talk to (my boyfriend) about why I not happy and have been patient with him to marry me almost 7 years and he lied to me. I’m nothing to him,” the note read, according to the Dec. 31, 2014 report. “... He tried to kill himself and hurt me. I haven’t tell or call cops because I would lose (my) kids. I’m scared.”

Zabel wrote that Stone slapped her face and threw her down a few times.

On Jan. 1, 2015, officers met with Zabel at the hotel. Zabel told them that after an argument, Stone slapped her, threw her down, dragged her into the bedroom and held her down on the bed. Zabel ran and hid behind a neighbor’s home when she saw Stone chasing her, according to the report. She ran to a friend’s home, and the friend took her to the Holiday Inn.

A Ponderay officer wrote in the report: “(Zabel) cried off and on during the interview and was genuinely afraid for her safety, going as far as to say she would not stay at the home with the children, even if Stone were arrested. She felt safer staying hidden from him.”

Police noted her injuries: Visible bruising on her arms, legs, and to her left eye socket.

One friend of Zabel’s told police that Zabel “left the home without the kids and she was afraid Stone would get his gun.”

Online court records suggest Stone was initially charged with disturbing the peace for the Ponderay case. But Bonner County Prosecutor Louis E. Marshall told the Statesman that Stone was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and pleaded the charge down. Prosecutors allowed the plea because it had the same consequences at sentencing, Marshall said, and Stone was still ordered to take domestic violence classes.

Stone also received five days in jail and unsupervised probation that ended in February 2017, just more than a year before he shot Zabel.

Both Marshall and his victim advocates remember Zabel fondly, the prosecutor said. He said it was very clear that she was not going to leave Stone. Marshall said his office was under the impression the relationship was improving while Stone was on probation.

“We are kind of heartbroken about it,” Marshall said Friday.

At least one of Stone’s relatives, meanwhile, claims he was maligned. Father Robin Stone said his son was not abusive, despite the court convictions, and that both Zabel and his son’s ex-wife made false reports about violence.

“We are of firm belief that false domestic violence reports, used as a weapon, is also domestic violence against men,” Robin Stone said. “Men who live with and do not report domestic violence are also victims. “

Asked about his son’s actions this week, Robin Stone said, “I have questions as to whether there was some kind of struggle.” He expressed his condolences for all family members affected by the shootings.

“We sincerely wish for the best for the other family,” he said.

Guns & Idaho domestic disputes

Ten people in Idaho were killed in a case of domestic violence in 2017, the latest data available. Nine of those deaths were shootings, according to the Idaho Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Some state lawmakers have expressed concern about domestic abusers possessing firearms in Idaho because of the added danger to victims. Federal law prohibits people convicted of domestic battery from owning guns, but state law has no such provision.

Legislation to change that narrowly failed to make it through the House of Representatives this year. The vote came in at 39-31, stopping the measure from moving to the Senate. Critics argued the bill infringed upon the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, pitched the legislation and said Thursday that she plans to bring the bill back in 2019. She found the news of Zabel’s death frustrating.

“One more time, women are being shot and killed by their boyfriends and husbands and they aren’t being taken seriously,” Wintrow said, referring to the fate of her bill.

Wintrow’s legislation wouldn’t have created a permanent ban. It stated that people with misdemeanor convictions wouldn’t be allowed to purchase or possess a gun within two years of their conviction.

As such, it wouldn’t necessarily helped avoid Zabel’s death.

And a convictions of disturbing the peace, like in Stone’s 2015 arrest, does not prevent someone from owning a firearm.

Wintrow offered the temporary ban, rather than a lifetime ban, in an effort to compromise with opposing lawmakers. An Idaho attorney general’s opinion concluded the bill would not have violated constitutional rights, but some lawmakers disagreed.

“It’s a philosophical, irrational stance that’s flying right in the face of public safety,” she said.

The temporary ban will again be part of Wintrow’s 2019 bill, she said.

“It’s not the end of the world for a gun owner, but it could be the end of the world of a victim,” she said about domestic abusers possessing firearms. “We need to get our priorities straight.”

Need help?

Nationally, one in four women will experience domestic violence over her lifetime.

Victims of domestic violence in need of help may contact the Women’s and Children’s Alliance domestic violence crisis hotline, at 208-343-7025. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or those in need may visit domesticshelters.org.

You can text or call Idaho’s Suicide Prevention Hotline at 208-398-4357..

Ruth Brown: 208-377-6207, @RuthBrownNews
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