ST. CLAIR COUNTY, ILL. - Newly-released court documents claim that Virgina shooter James Hodgkinson, a Belleville native, was sometimes an abusive foster parent.
Hodgkinson shot federal legislators last week in Alexandria, Virginia, before being shot dead himself by law enforcement.
5 On Your Side has been digging into his past in hopes of better understanding the shooter.
James Hodgkinson, or "Tom" as his friends called him, had a troubled home life as a foster parent, according to documents just recently unsealed from St. Clair County Circuit Court.
As early as 1996 he was hit by tragedy, when his foster daughter Wanda "Ashley" Stock supposedly doused herself in gasoline and set herself on fire.
Law enforcement found Hodgkinson did not have anything to do with the girl's death. But later, there was more trouble. In a 2006 court hearing, Hodgkinson’s grandniece Cathy Putman claimed he hit her on the face a number of times, especially when they got into an argument, and that it had been going on for years.
Hodgkinson was facing a battery charge at the time, centering around an incident in April 2006 that allegedly included dragging Putman by the hair, shooting at but not hitting another person, and punching a friend of Putman’s in the face.
Darlene Jones, executive director of the Violence Prevention Center in Belleville, says just from the one April incident, she is not surprised to hear of others.
"If they do something in front of other people, you have to wonder what is going on behind closed doors," she said.
Based on Putman’s then-testimony, the judge removed her from Hodgkinson's guardianship and allowed her to change her last name from Hodgkinson to Rainbolt. Unfortunately, the girl eventually died of an overdose in 2015.
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