Deputies: Navy sailor murders wife with children in the home

Mark Freel (Courtesy: York County Sheriff's Dept.)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A Navy sailor shot and killed his wife inside their home while the couple’s two children were inside, according to the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.

Petty Officer First Class Mark Freel, Jr. allegedly shot and killed his 27-year-old wife, Katherine Freel, inside their Williamsburg home Sunday around 12:45 a.m., according to Lt. Dennis Ivey, Jr.

The couple’s 4-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter were inside the Wichita Lane home at the time, but neither child was hurt.

“If they had a difference with one another or whatever was going on, they should have taken it away from each other or settled it outside, not with the little kids in the house,” said Darlene De Costa, who lives next door to Freel.

The baby girl was sleeping when deputies arrived and the boy was awake, but investigations says they can’t confirm where he was in the house or whether he witnessed any part of the shooting. The victim’s family is taking care of both children, says Ivey.

Deputies arrested Freel, 26, at the scene. The 911 call came from Freel, according to Ivey, who would not elaborate on what the suspect said during the call.

“There was overwhelming probable cause that [Freel] was the one who committed the crime,” said Ivey, who described it as a ‘domestic situation.’

Ivey says the only prior call to the couple’s address came a day prior to the murder, when Freel called to complain about a neighbor.

De Costa says Freel called the cops on her following a dispute Saturday over the property line that separates their homes.

“I could sense that something didn’t seem right, and he [has] one big attitude,” said De Costa. “He even shoved himself up towards me, got in my face, I was staring at him right in the eyes, he said, ‘Hit me. Hit me. Hit me.'”

A spokeswoman for the Navy confirmed Freel is an active duty Navy sailor assigned to Joint Task Force Civil Support at Fort Eustis, which is an Army command.

He will remain an active duty sailor pending the outcome of the investigation.

“You don’t know who people are anymore,” said De Costa. “You don’t know your neighbors.”

Freel faces second degree murder and gun charges and is being held without bond at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail. Jail officials say he denied a jailhouse interview request.

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