Kathy Stobaugh's brother Chris Munday was one of the last family members to talk to her on the day she drove to her estranged husband's house and disappeared, he testified Monday afternoon in Charles Stobaugh's murder trial. Kathy Stobaugh
He called his sister on Dec. 29, 2004, and they talked for eight minutes. On that Wednesday, they discussed their plans to attend their grandfather's 94th birthday party in Gatesville on Sunday, Munday testified.
Munday was sick that day and wasn't able to attend. Neither was his sister, he testified, and he has neither seen nor heard from her again.
The trial entered its second week Monday, but Denton County courts are closed today because of the weather and there will be no testimony. Judge Bruce McFarling told jurors he hoped the trial would be able to resume Wednesday morning.
Munday, who is a Fort Worth police officer, said he last saw his sister during a family Christmas celebration.
"She was planning her life. She was happy. She was a totally different person," he said in answer to the questions of prosecutor Susan Piel.
Munday said his sister was five years older than him and he also has an older brother who was born two years before Kathy Stobaugh. They all grew up in Gatesville, and she came to Denton to attend Texas Woman's University. She met and married Charles Stobaugh in Denton and did not finish her degree at that time.
Munday said she had previously left her husband in 1989 and filed for divorce. She stayed with Munday briefly, then with her parents and finally in a rent house in Chilton owned by her older brother, Mark Munday.
Eventually, she went back to her husband and withdrew the divorce, Chris Munday said.
Munday said he went to the Stobaugh farm in Sanger the day after he learned his sister was missing, which was five days after she disappeared.
He knocked several times and then turned to leave because no one answered, he said. Just then, Charles Stobaugh opened the door wide. But when he saw his brother-in-law standing there, he pulled the door almost shut, leaving just room to talk through a crack, Munday said.
He described a subsequent tense, awkward meeting at the farm that included him and his brother, their wives, his parents and the two Stobaugh children.
Charles Stobaugh and the children told their stories of what happened, he said. Then Chris Munday looked at him.
"I said, 'Put yourself in my shoes. What would you think?'
"He said, 'Well if you look at it that way, I can see how you would think I did something,'" Munday testified. Charles Stobaugh
Nothing in his sister's life was more important to her than her children, he testified, talking about boxes and boxes of the children's memorabilia his family packed after his sister had been missing for two months and they decided to move her belongings out of her rental house.
Kathy Stobaugh missed her daughter's 17th birthday less than 10 days after she disappeared. She missed her daughter's salutatorian speech when she graduated from high school. She missed her son's graduation and her daughter's subsequent graduation from college.
She missed her mother's death, Munday said, fighting back tears, and her funeral. He testified that the family finally had a headstone carved in her honor in 2008.
Susan Piel tried to offer a photograph of the stone, but the judge agreed with the objection of defense attorney Derrell Comer and did not allow the photo into evidence.
Comer asked Munday if he had expressed dissatisfaction with the investigation into his sister's death. Munday said he did because he was frustrated she could not be found.
"As a family member, you're never satisfied," he said.
Comer asked if he was shocked when he found out that Kathy Stobaugh had started a relationship with a Haskell man.
"I wasn't shocked to think that she would date," Munday said. "She was going through a divorce."
Texas Ranger Tracy Murphree left the witness stand Monday afternoon after three days and six hours of testimony. Monday was a struggle between him and the defense attorneys over several issues they have with his prior testimony.
Comer referred several times, as he has throughout the trial, to Kathy Stobaugh's relationship with a Haskell man as her "having sex with Rocky Underwood." He alluded to another man, a friend from her high school days who was in Alabama when she disappeared. He asked the Ranger if Alabama was on the way to Florida.
Comer has alluded several times to evidence that Kathy Stobaugh was planning a trip to Florida and that Christmas vacation would have been the time she most likely would have gone.
Murphree acknowledged during Comer's cross-examination that he had seen a notation on her credit card that showed she paid $498 to a resort in Florida.
"Did you go to Florida to look for Kathy Stobaugh?" he asked.
Murphree said he did not.
"Were you aware that Charles Stobaugh's private investigator did?" Comer said.
"I didn't know he had one," Murphree replied.
Comer questioned Murphree about several scenarios in which he did not go to another state to look for the victim after a clue emerged. The Ranger said he either checked it by some other method or another investigator made the trip.
"Is it fair to say you haven't been able to find Kathy so we'll blame it on Charles," the defense attorney said.
"No, that is not fair to say," Murphree said.
During redirect questioning by prosecutor Cary Piel, Murphree explained the Florida trip issue.
The credit card records showed that Kathy Stobaugh made an initial deposit on a trip, but she had not chosen her destination, he said. She would have had to pay another $498 and choose one of several destinations in order to actually take that trip.
"She had two years to do that, and she never did and she forfeited her deposit," he said.
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6995. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .