Frankford man charged for fatally shooting neighbors

The man claimed self defense after the victims allegedly tried to climb his fence into his backyard.

A Frankford man who claimed self-defense after he shot two neighbors to death was arrested on murder charges last Friday, 12 days after the slayings.

In a brief statement, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said it charged Kenneth Hoyle, 69, of the 4700 block of James Street, “after a comprehensive investigation.” Hoyle is held without bail at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility while awaiting an Aug. 16 preliminary hearing.

Hoyle shot and killed Bob DePaul, 45, and his girlfriend August Dempsey, 42, on July 16 shortly before 2 a.m. outside the shooter’s home. Both victims suffered single wounds of the head, police said. Hoyle called 911 after the shooting. Paramedics pronounced both victims dead at the scene.

Hoyle allegedly told police at the time that he shot the couple as they attempted to scale a fence and enter Hoyle’s yard. After questioning Hoyle, police released him pending further investigation.

The DA’s office said it will prosecute Hoyle for first-degree or premeditated murder, although court records show Hoyle is actually charged with two counts of murder generally. The degree of the charges is not specified. Under Pennsylvania law, Hoyle is ineligible for bail because the general murder charge potentially involves a capital offense.

His motive remains unknown, although by all accounts an argument between Hoyle and the couple preceded the gunfire. Neighbors have said there was a longstanding feud between the parties. Police said Hoyle told them he felt threatened by DePaul and Dempsey, so he retrieved a gun from his home and shot them.

The DA’s office did not specify what evidence prompted the new charges. In addition to murder, Hoyle was charged with possessing an instrument of crime, but he was not charged with firearms violations.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the victims’ relatives delivered a petition to the DA’s office demanding Hoyle be charged criminally. The documented reportedly contained 5,000 signatures.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the schooling of Dempsey’s two teenage sons, Anthony and Nicholas. It raised about $4,600 toward a $20,000 goal in 12 days.

Family and friends have held at least two candlelight vigils outside DePaul’s home since the shooting. ••