MILWAUKEE – A Wisconsin man strangled his 14-year-old stepson with a necktie in a minivan in a Walmart parking lot, telling investigators he wanted to get revenge on his wife and her relatives for interfering in his business, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Charles A. Avey Sr., 37, of Grafton, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and felony bail jumping in the death of Cody A. Reetz. Online court records didn't list an attorney for Avey, and police didn't know whether he had a lawyer.
Prosecutors said Avey killed Reetz to punish his wife's mother, sisters and ex-husband for meddling in his family's affairs, prosecutors said. Around the same time as the teen's death on Sunday, Avey's wife was filing a police report alleging that he repeatedly struck her with a hammer the previous week, the criminal complaint said.
Cody's body was found in the minivan, a necktie knotted tightly around his neck, prosecutors said. A medical examiner said the eighth grader died of strangulation.
On the day of the murder, Avey's mother-in-law picked his wife up from their home, and neither responded to Avey's repeated text messages, according to a criminal complaint.
Avey then got into his car, drove around and spotted his mother-in-law's car at the police station, the complaint said. He then went home, picked up Cody and drove to the Walmart, where they sat in the parking lot while Avey grew increasingly agitated that his wife didn't call him back, it said.
The complaint accuses Avey of strangling Cody with one necktie and using a second necktie to tie his arm to a seat.
After the slaying Avey called a friend and asked her to pick him up. Avey then called his ex-wife, Krista Avey, who agreed to meet him at a grocery store, the complaint said.
He told his ex-wife to drive him to the Washington County sheriff's department, where he surrendered to authorities.
His ex-wife told authorities that Avey told her he killed Cody because the teen's birth father wasn't a good father and because he wanted to punish his wife for going to police, the complaint said.
"He told me he wasn't thinking at the time and that she hurt him," Krista Avey told the Milwaukee television station WTMJ.
A telephone listing for Krista Avey could not be found when The Associated Press tried to contact her. The current wife's number was also unlisted.
If convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, Avey would face a sentence of life in prison. A judge could also permit the possibility of parole. The bail-jumping charge carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.