Murder Trial in Woman's Disappearance Begins

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Denton County man is on trial for murder six years after the disappearance of his estranged wife.

    Charles Stobaugh is charged with killing Kathy Stobaugh, who was last seen at his Sanger home on the eve of their divorce. Her body has not been found.

    Stobaugh Murder Trial Under Way

    [DFW] Stobaugh Murder Trial Under Way
    There's no body or murder weapon, but Denton prosecutors say they are confident Charles Stobaugh killed his estranged wife, Kathy Stobaugh. (Published Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011)

    Prosecutors say that Kathy Stobaugh was moving on with her life. She had her children, a new job, a new boyfriend and money in the bank, prosecutors said. She was 12 hours away from divorcing her husband when she visited him the night of Dec. 29, 2004.

    "Charles Stobaugh killed his wife, and he killed her because he didn't want to lose all his stuff in a divorce," Cary Piel, assistant Denton County district attorney, said in court.

    Piel said Charles Stobaugh lured his wife to the home under the pretense that he would sign off on a property settlement agreement, something she had been seeking.

    Her car and keys were left his home. At the urging of a friend, her daughter reported her missing five days later.

    Charles Stobaugh repeatedly told investigators that his wife “ran off."

    But prosecutors say she would never abandon her children and that murder is the only explanation for her disappearance.

    "We have her cell phone," Piel said in court. "We have her credit card records -- no activity. They did 25 searches, and Charles Stobaugh participates in a grand total of none of those searches."

    Defense attorneys are chipping away at the prosecution witnesses in hopes that a murder case based on circumstantial evidence won’t result in a conviction. The defense did not make an opening statement.

    Kathy Stobaugh’s family members said they are eager for justice, which they said has been delayed too long.

    "(I'm) just nervous, just glad that everything has come to this point finally," her brother, Chris Munday, said. "It's been a long time coming."

    He said his sister's family hopes to one day find her.

    “I hope to put her in her proper burial place," he said. "We have a headstone right beside my mom, and it would be nice, but, like I've said before, I know where she's at."