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Missouri man facing 78 felony boarding school abuse charges dies months before trial

Cedar County Courthouse with the flags of the United States and Missouri.
Gregory Holman/KSMU
Cedar County Courthouse is shown in March 2022.

Boyd Householder died Tuesday, according to reporting by the Kansas City Star citing multiple sources.

Missouri court records show the 75-year-old Householder was set to go on trial this fall on 78 felony charges related to statutory rape, sodomy and physical abuse — along with child abuse and neglect allegations. The charges were related to Householder’s years directing a Christian boarding school near Humansville known as Circle of Hope Girls Ranch.

When he filed the charges back in early 2021, Eric Schmitt, Missouri attorney general at the time, called the allegations against Householder "extensive and horrific.”

Householder’s wife, Stephanie Householder, is also scheduled for a trial in late October on 21 similar felony charges — though it’s not clear how her husband’s death might affect the case. A spokesperson for current Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey declined to comment Thursday morning because the matter is “an ongoing criminal proceeding.”

Householder’s 33-year-old daughter lives in California and shared a written statement with Ozarks Public Radio, relayed by a Missouri official with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group actively campaigning on behalf of those who identify as boarding school abuse survivors.

Part of the statement by Amanda Householder says, "While the little girl inside me is sad to hear of my Dad's passing, I feel even more heartbroken for those of us who were sexually, emotionally and physically violated by him for years and years. I hope his passing brings some solace to the hundreds of vulnerable children who suffered even more pain at his hands."

Missouri authorities began investigating abuse allegations against Circle of Hope Girls Ranch after women identifying as abuse survivors took to the TikTok social media app with their claims back in 2020.

Springfield-based attorney Adam Woody represented Boyd Householder and on Thursday afternoon issued a statement regarding the death of his client. Woody confirmed Householder's death on Tuesday following cardiac arrest and said Householder "had been ill for quite some time related to his service for our country in the Vietnam War" including lung and heart damage due to chemical warfare exposure that required the use of oxygen tanks in recent times.

"[Boyd Householder] passed away maintaining his innocence against any criminal conduct and is in a better place," Woody wrote.

Editor’s note: After the audio version of this report was recorded early Thursday afternoon, the digital text was updated to include a statement by Householder’s attorney.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.