'Killer Siblings': How Stovall twins, who shot 17 officers in 24 hours, turned cop killers with one skill they learned from their father

The second episode of Oxygen's docu-series 'Killer Siblings' focuses on how the brothers wreaked havoc on a relatively quiet Colorado city.


                            'Killer Siblings': How Stovall twins, who shot 17 officers in 24 hours, turned cop killers with one skill they learned from their father

They did not get the love and affection from their father that normal children do but the Stovall brothers did learn a very important, or rather deadly, skillset from their father - to make a universal handcuff-opening key.

The second episode of Oxygen's docu-series 'Killer Siblings' focuses on how that one skill allowed the twin brothers, Joel and Michael Stovall, to wreak havoc on a relatively quiet Colorado city and shoot 17 police officers, killing one of them, before being arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. 

The siblings were born in Florence, Colorado, in the Fremont County area, in 1985, and they always stayed together and enjoyed similar interests in life. After their parents split up, the brothers were bullied in elementary school, which caused them to be reclusive. After entering high school, however, the brothers became the bullies, putting on black trench coats and combat gear. 

Being unable to keep stable jobs, the Stovall brothers became increasingly the spitting images of their father who was paranoid and harbored anti-government and anti-law enforcement views. Since the Stovall brothers stayed with their father after their parents divorced, they picked up a number of weapons-related tips from their father, including how to make a universal handcuff opening key. 

"Their father was known for inventing a plastic handcuff key, which were (sic) universal in that they would work on any set of handcuffs. And he taught the brothers how to make their own handcuff keys", Pueblo Chieftan reporter Tracy Harmon said in the docu-series. 

On September 28, 2001, the 24-year-old Stovall brothers were arrested by Deputy Jason Schwartz - Joel on suspicion of reckless endangerment after he allegedly shot a dog and later his brother for allegedly threatening the arresting officer. Both of them were placed at the back of Jason's car, against police protocol and one of them was not bodily searched.

Michael Stovall had the universal handcuff key with him when he was arrested and was able to free himself sitting at the back of the patrol car. He was also carrying a 9mm handgun in his pants, with which he shot Jason at the back of the head, resulting in the patrol car crashing in a ditch. The brothers exited the vehicle unscathed, removed Jason from the car and proceeded to unload the remaining bullets in the gun into his body. 

They then walked about five miles to a mobile home, filled with weapons and protective gear. They retrieved an AK-47, an SKS rifle, as well as bulletproof vests and ballistic helmets, with a single mission in mind - to kill as many cops as possible. 

“They would have been capable of inflicting anything on anyone”, Fremont County Sheriff’s Department Undersheriff Derek Irvine said on 'Killer Siblings.' “This was probably the worst night I was ever going to see in my career.”

They began shooting at random at the cop cars chasing them in hot pursuit on Highway 50, a winding mountain road tracking the Arkansas River. Within hours, law enforcement officers from multiple counties were involved after the brothers abandoned the pickup truck they had commandeered and fled into the Methodist Mountain, which was surrounded by a heavily forested area, a SWAT team as well a helicopter was called at the scene to help locate them.

After 24 hours of hunting them, the Stovall brothers were finally spotted and they surrendered. Both of them agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder and got sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  

'Killer Siblings' airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen.

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