The foster child of GOP baseball practice shooter James T. Hodgkinson reportedly committed suicide by dousing herself in gasoline and then setting herself on fire.
According to The New York Times, Hodgkingson and his wife could not have children of their own but fostered several in the past twenty years.
The outlet quotes the couple as stating she was a “very practical, levelheaded girl,” while professing ignorance on her motives for suicide.
According to The Belleville News-Democrat, the girl – 17-year-old Wanda “Ashley” Stock – had been living with the Hodgkinsons for just three months when, in 1996, she “drove to a lonely rural road, doused herself with gasoline and set herself on fire.”
Hodgkinson was reportedly an incredibly angry individual who displayed a liking for violence, especially with his 13-year-old grandniece.
He legally adopted his grandniece – Cathy Lynn Putman – in 2002 but she allegedly was incredibly unhappy at the home, often staying at a neighbor’s house to escape the Hodgkinson household.
A particularly violent incident happened in 2006 when his grandniece and her friends were hanging out at the next door neighbor’s house.
According to police reports, Hodgkinson forced his way into the neighbor’s house before assaulting the child and her friends.
The report notes that once he had gained entry to the house, he broke into the room where his grandniece and her friend were located. He then proceeded to grab her by the hair and drag her out to his car.
While doing so he allegedly punched the grandniece’s friend “in the face with a closed fist,” and threw his adopted child into the car where he tried to choke her. The friend’s boyfriend moved to intervene and stop the assault but Hodgkinson struck him on the head with the butt of his shotgun after firing warning shots.
“[Hodgkinson] fired a couple of warning shots and then hit my boyfriend with the butt of the gun,” the then 19-year-old friend of the grandniece, Aimee Moreland, told The Daily Beast.
When Moreland tried to escape with Hodgkinson’s daughter in a car, he reached inside the vehicle and “turned off the ignition.”
“We were panicked and when I tried to reverse, I hit neutral instead and he opened my car door and hit me, and then came to her car door and pulled out a knife and cut her seatbelt and dragged her out,” Moreland explained.“She was only 15 or 16, I think. She was so tiny.”
Hodgkinson was arrested for domestic battery and the discharge of a firearm but the charges were dropped when Moreland got the court dates “mixed up” and failed to appear in time for the second court date.
“I tried to tell the court that this guy’s crazy, that this is a big deal, but they didn’t listen to me,” she said.
The grandniece’s friend told The Daily Beast that “according to his foster daughter, he was always angry,” adding that ”she was really unhappy there. She had come over to get away from them.”
According to The New York Times, Putman died via a drug overdose in 2015 at the age of 25.