A gruesome attack just after midnight in November 2010 caused Paul Skinner’s death at his home in Yale, Michigan. In the chaotic moments after that, the authorities zeroed in on his adopted daughter, Tia Skinner, for her involvement in the crime. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Blood Relatives: A Deadly Education’ delves into a shocking tale that ended with Paul’s death, changing the Skinner family forever. So, if you’re curious about what happened, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Paul Skinner Die?
Paul Earl Skinner was a Michigan native born in December 1962. He married Mara Borja in April 1986, and the couple had been together for more than two decades when the incident occurred. Paul had been working as a pipefitter for about a decade and was an active member of the local community and church. Paul and Mara had three kids together and adopted a fourth, Tia Skinner, who was living with them in Yale, Michigan.
Sometime after midnight on November 12, 2010, Paul and Mara were woken up by a couple of men attacking them. The assailants had their faces covered and stabbed the couple repeatedly until Paul chased them out of the house. Mara eventually called 911, and the authorities rushed to find Paul stabbed 23 times, ultimately causing his death. On the other hand, Mara was stabbed 26 times but miraculously survived.
Who Killed Paul Skinner?
At the time of the incident, Paul and Mara had their son, Jeffrey, visiting them. The intruders entered the home while Jeffrey was in the basement watching a movie with Tia, then a 17-year-old high schooler. Mara was woken up by her husband calling out for her, and at that point, she realized these intruders were attacking them. At some point, Jeffrey heard a noise from upstairs, with Tia going up and coming back to say something was wrong.
Jeffrey then heard a commotion, saw blood on the walls, and noticed Paul getting back into the house; he was bloody and disoriented. He tried to render first aid to his father, but that was ultimately unsuccessful. Through all of this, Tia stayed in the basement, and according to Jeffrey, when he asked her to come up to help their mother, she said, “I can’t come up there, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”
Once the authorities arrived, they were struck by how calm Tia was. During her ride with the police, she never asked about what happened to her parents or how they were. Instead, the teenager talked about her school life and future college plans. This aroused the authorities’ suspicion. Furthermore, during a search outside the house, the police found a piece of paper that seemed to be a map of the neighborhood. The Skinner residence was marked “my house” in addition to an arrow signifying where Paul and Mara’s bedroom was.
Upon further questioning, the investigators learned that in the days prior, Tia and her parents had arguments regarding her dating life. Paul and Mara disapproved of Jonathan Kurtz, an 18-year-old that she had been dating and lived a few miles away. Just days before the incident, Paul and Mara forbade Tia from hanging out with Jonathan. Furthermore, they saw a message on Tia’s phone from him where he professed his love for her. This led to the parents taking Tia’s phone away.
It seemed that Tia being angry at her mother eventually led to the brutal attack. The police then learned that Jonathan and his friend, James Preston, were also involved in the plot. According to the authorities, the three met at a youth church group meeting to discuss getting rid of Tia’s parents “in the quietest way possible.” The investigation later revealed that Jonathan and James were offered $500 for the job and had been given a checklist of the things to carry out before the attack.
Tia then told the detectives that she let the two take the map before the attack, with a then-18-year-old James stating that Tia gave the map to him. The authorities believed she was the mastermind behind the attack and had left her first-floor bedroom window open to let Jonathan and James in. Furthermore, Tia left a ladder outside the house for easy access. Text messages between the three showed them planning the attack and choosing what knives to use.
Where Are Tia Skinner, Jonathan Kurtz, and James Preston Today?
The wealth of evidence meant that Tia, Jonathan, and James were convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. While all three were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in September 2011, Tia’s sentencing was reconsidered after a Supreme Court ruling that prohibited mandatory no-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder.
However, in July 2013, Tia received the same sentence. Prison records indicate that she currently remains incarcerated at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. As for Jonathan, he is serving his sentence at Baraga Correctional Facility in Baraga County, Michigan. Finally, James remains behind bars at Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon County, Michigan.
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