Dustin Lee Klopp gave his family a Christmas they would never forget – by slaughtering his wife to death with an axe. Then he played the doting dad with their two kids on Christmas Day, while his wife’s dead body was hidden in the garden shed. What turned a family man into a crazed killer?
Devoted mum and wife Stephanie Kilhefner, 34, lived for her family. She and her husband Dustin Lee Klopp, 36, had two children together aged 2 and 5. And she doted on them.
Caring by nature, Stephanie was known to rescue animals, too. She gave loving homes to all sorts – including abandoned goats, horses and ponies.
And she was a big believer in second chances. Perhaps that’s why she loved her husband…
Unlike his wife, Klopp had a long track record of run-ins with the law. His criminal record was littered with drug charges, burglary and assault.
In September 2009, he was arrested on drug charges and served a two-year stint in prison.
But it seemed Stephanie saw the good in him, marrying him in 2011.
The family, who lived in Pennsylvania, USA, kept themselves to themselves.
Still, Stephanie would often post photos on Facebook, showing her hubby cuddled up asleep with their kids.
They seemed like a happy family.
Then, in December 2014, like other families, Klopp and Stephanie were getting ready for Christmas.
On 24 December, at 7.30pm, Stephanie arrived home and waved to her neighbours next door.
‘Merry Christmas!’ she smiled.
That was to be the last time Stephanie was seen alive by her neighbours.
The following day, Klopp phoned the police and admitted to a crime.
He claimed he’d killed his wife with an axe. Hacked her to death.
When police arrived at the home, they found Stephanie’s butchered body in a bag in the garden shed.
Klopp handed himself in.
He admitted to officers he and his wife had been arguing that Christmas Eve. Losing his temper, he allegedly punched Stephanie in the face, then slit her throat.
But the horror of the attack wasn’t over.
He then got an axe and repeatedly bashed her over the head with it, slicing it open.
In an attempt to cover up the murder, he put Stephanie’s body in a bag and hid it in the shed.
He then cleared up his wife’s splattered blood.
Thankfully, the couple’s two young children didn’t witness the horrific attack.
The next day, when they woke up excited for Christmas, Klopp switched from killer to Dad.
He allegedly took his young children to celebrate Christmas with his parents. But there was someone missing from the dinner table that day.
And Klopp was unable to escape from the truth…
The evidence of his sick crime lay in the shed.
He had to confess to what he’d done.
An autopsy on Stephanie’s body later revealed she’d also been sexually assaulted. It was unclear if she’d been alive at the time of the assault.
Klopp was charged with criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse and evidence-tampering.
While he waited for the court case, he was held in Lancaster County Jail.
Friends and family couldn’t understand what had happened. Stephanie’s niece Cheyenne Smith said in a press interview that the family had seen no signs of problems between the couple.
‘She always made it seem like it was perfect,’ Cheyenne revealed. ‘Before this happened, I couldn’t see Dustin doing this.’
Then investigators found one of Stephanie’s old Facebook posts, written two months before.
This is just a little reminder to all those out there who bully, what you say or do cannot be reversed the damage it leaves is perminate [sic]. she wrote.
Was she pointing the finger at her husband? Nobody was sure.
The murder baffled those closest to the couple.
Then, months on, in March 2015, another shocking discovery was made…
Prison guards found Klopp hanged in his cell. The evil killer had ended his life before facing punishment.
Nobody knows what made him kill his wife in such a horrific way. And at a time of year that’s supposed to be filled with excitement, love and happiness.
His actions destroyed the magic of Christmas for Stephanie’s family… For them, it’ll never be the same.