STRAFFORD, Mo. — A Missouri man has been sentenced to three consecutive life sentences in the March 2021 murders of his wife and her elderly parents, who were visiting to care for her after back surgery.
Jesse Huy, 52, of Strafford, told police he fatally shot Ronald Koehler, 71, and Linda Koehler, 78, because they would not leave the home he shared with his wife, Tonya Huy. The Koehlers had driven from their home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to help care for the ailing Tonya Huy, 48.
Jesse Huy also killed his wife, who worked as a registered nurse, because she refused to ask her mother and stepfather to leave, authorities said.
Huy’s murder trial was set to begin, with jurors already picked and seated, when he decided to plead guilty in October.
Judge Thomas Mountjoy, who had retired since Huy’s plea, returned to the bench for sentencing, according to KOLR-TV in Springfield. He sentenced Huy to three life sentences for the murders and nine years each for three counts of armed criminal action.
All the sentences are to run consecutively, or one after another.
“I have to tell you, sir, that really, I’ve never handled a case quite of this nature,” Mountjoy told Huy. “The word ‘senseless’ doesn’t seem to capture what happened here.”
Prosecutor Joshua Harel told the court that all three victims were shot at least twice in the head. Tonya Huy was also shot a third time.
“This was a barbaric, heinous, unspeakable crime,” Harel said.
Watch the judge address Jesse Huy below, courtesy of KOLR.
In addressing Jesse Huy, Mountjoy pointed out that the convicted killer made sure his wife saw him kill her parents before shooting her in the eye.
“That’s full of all kinds of psychology that is way over my training, but it’s horrific,” the judge said. “All of this is horrific.”
Teresa Williamson, a member of the Koehler family, spoke on behalf of the victims’ loved ones.
“I will miss Linda and Ron’s willingness to always be there for all of us,” Williamson said in a remote statement. “That’s what they were doing with Tonya when this arrogant monster made the selfish decision to take their lives.”
The slain couple’s daughter, Angie Priddy, said she could not even comprehend the tragedy when it occurred.
“I just did not understand how a person could cause this much devastation to my family and not even have any remorse,” Priddy said.
‘A minute and it was over’
According to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Jesse Huy called 911 on the evening of March 20, 2021, to report that he’d “just murdered three people.”
As deputies raced to the scene, Huy said he would surrender willingly upon their arrival. The dispatcher asked Huy why he’d killed the victims.
“Well, they wouldn’t leave,” Huy said, according to KOLR-TV in Springfield. “I’ve been waiting for a week for them to leave, and they wouldn’t leave. I’ve had enough.”
Court records obtained by the news station indicated that Tonya Huy had undergone back surgery, after which her parents traveled from Louisiana to Missouri in their RV. Linda Koehler stayed at the home with the couple, while her husband returned each night to the RV, which they had parked in a nearby trailer park.
“Her mom moved in on me, and Ronald would just come and show up at the house whenever,” Huy told investigators.
Huy said he felt that the Koehlers had been disrespectful toward him during their visit. He said he’d told his wife multiple times that he wanted her parents to leave, but she refused.
“I felt intruded on; I felt disrespected, you know,” Huy said, according to court records. “I pay the (expletive) bill on that place, so that gives me some say.
“Linda burrowed in like a tick and made it obvious she wasn’t going anywhere, and she knew I wasn’t happy about it.”
On the day of the shooting, Huy said he returned home around 4:30 p.m. to find his wife and her parents gone. Assuming the Koehlers had left for home, he went to the upper floor of the modular home, where his father lived.
While up there, he saw Tonya Huy and her parents return.
The court records, which were also obtained by WAFB in Baton Rouge, indicate that Huy went down to the basement, where his wife and in-laws were seated at a kitchen table. He told the Koehlers they needed to leave.
“My wife said, ‘They’re not going anywhere. I’m half owner of this place, (and) they can stay here as long as they want to,’” Huy told detectives.
Huy said he lost his temper and went out to his truck.
“I got my gun. I walked back in. I shot them all in the head,” he said. “Then I shot them all in the head again to make sure they were down.”
The murders took place very quickly, Huy said.
“From the time I lost it, it was a minute and it was over,” Huy said, according to WAFB. “She made me go off, and now there’s three (expletive) dead people in under a minute!”
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Huy explained that his “personal code” allows a person or people to disrespect him three times and then he’s going to “fix that problem,” the news station reported. He showed little remorse over the killings.
“You know, I wish I could take it back, but on the other hand I really wish I hadn’t been put in that position,” he told investigators.
Linda Koehler, who married her husband in 1996 in Missouri, worked as a hairdresser and owned a cleaning service before she and Ronald Koehler moved back to her native Louisiana in 2015. The couple retired in 2020 and became “full-time travelers,” according to her obituary.
“Together they traveled all over in their RV, enjoying laughs and making memories,” the obituary read. “Most recently, she and Ron were planning the trip of their lifetime to Alaska.”
She was described as the “rock” of her family, for whom she loved cooking. She also loved her garden, quilting, sewing, refurbishing furniture and remodeling, her family said.
“However, time spent with her family is what she treasured most,” the obituary read. “She loved them unconditionally.”
The same was said for Ron Koehler, a U.S. Air Force veteran who worked at Detroit Tool and Dye in Lebanon for 40 years. Along with his adventures with his wife, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and weaving on his loom.
“Ron was always smiling. He loved life and the people in it. In fact, friends and family lovingly gave him the name ‘Grinny’ because it was rare to see him without one,” his obituary read. “We were blessed to have known someone so special. He will be forever missed by all who knew and loved him.”
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