When police officers in Alaska found former Fairbanks cop Al Hutton crying in the corridor of the Hampton Inn hotel, they had no idea what had brought the veteran of law enforcement to such tears. As they approached him on the second-floor hallway of the hotel, they were shocked by what he told them.
Hutton’s son, McKay Hutton was dead inside the motel room as were his mother, wife and 8-week old baby. It was clear that this was one of the worst murder-suicides in Alaskan history but why had this 22-year-old man perpetrated such a heinous crime?
While Hutton senior was understandably beside himself, having just found his son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter and wife dead in the motel room, he directed his former police colleagues to the room to witness the tragic scene for themselves. What they saw inside would stay with them forever.
When the officers entered the room, they found the bodies of 54-year-old Linda Hutton – Al’s wife. His 22-year-old son McKay, his 22-year-old Daughter-in-law Emily McDonald, and most tragically, the lifeless body of eight-week-old Teagen. It was a murder-suicide for sure, but no one had any clue as to the motive.
Not a Suspect
Police meanwhile confirmed that while Al Hutton was the one to find the bodies he is not a suspect in the murders. Hutton, who was a patrol officer from 2005 to 2009, has been cooperative with detectives during the ongoing investigation, according to the police department, and is reportedly devastated to have lost the majority of his family in such a horrific way.
According to Hutton, the family was due to move out of the state which is why they were staying at the Hampton Inn. For the time being, all the evidence points to McKay Hutton killing his family and then turning the gun on himself. A single firearm was located in the room, just next to McKay’s body.
While Hutton and McDonald were only married a year ago, police confirmed that there was no indication of drugs or alcohol being involved. A year ago, McKay wrote a message on his Facebook page just after his wedding, professing his undying love for his new wife.
In that Facebook message, according to a CBS report, Hutton posted: ‘To the one I love you much, my soul mate, my best friend, my lover my everything, our special night brought us both such happiness, the love I feel every day to you waking up in my arms, you’re the most cherished part of my life.” He added, “To many more years with you sweetheart; I love you always and forever.”
While the suspect was never considered to be a violent person he was a gun enthusiast and a strong believer in the second amendment. He even had an image of a rifle posted on his Facebook profile accompanied with text from the second amendment itself. But the reason he killed his family then himself remains unclear.
Familicide is where a perpetrator kills one or more family members but when a child is involved the phenomenon is very rare, according to National Institute of Justice publication. Around 1250 per year die in America in homicide-suicide events, and the majority involve a man killing a former or current girlfriend or wife. Only 13 percent of victims statistically are children.
For some reason, Alaska has seen a disproportionate number of murder-suicides over the past few years. In May 2014, Rebecca Adams and her two children aged six and three were murdered by Adams’ boyfriend, Brandon Jividen who turned the gun on himself too. Murder-suicide is considered to be the most extreme form of domestic violence, and for some reason, Alaska has a big issue with it.
There were some hints of trouble in the Hutton case though. Destiny Buonacorsi met Emily McDonald at Hutchison High School in Fairbanks when they were young. As both women fell pregnant at a young age, they formed a strong bond and often hung out together. Years later and McDonald started dating Hutton.
McDonald worked as a nursing aide in North Pole, but she and Buonacorsi grew apart with the passage of time. McDonald even got a new phone number, and she and Hutton moved in with her parents for a while. “It was just kind of weird that she was backtracking like that,” said the friend. And while she gushed about her new love often, Buonacorsi said there were issues beneath the surface.
According to Buonacorsi who was questioned by the police, “She would tell me he would say really mean things to her,” Buonacorsi said. “I’d say, ‘Why do you stay with him?’ and she’d say, ‘Because he loves me; he’s going through some pain right now.'” But just a few months later and things took a turn for the worse.
While Buonacorsi explained that McDonald had been sleeping in the family car due to an argument she had with her husband, she also confirmed that Hutton would often carry a handgun openly. And while such a thing is not unusual in Fairbank, she always had a bad feeling about Hutton as she told the police.
When McDonald gave birth to her daughter, residents of the Lilley Lodge Assisted Living Facility in North Pole couldn’t wait for their nurse to bring the baby for a visit. “I’m just in shock,” McDonald’s longtime employer, Lilley Lodge owner Terry Ann Gainer, said to People, “I don’t think it has set in yet. They seemed so happy,” she said.
Fairbanks Police Department Public Information Officer Yumi McCulloch also spoke to reporters about the tragic murder-suicide. McDonald had just posted a picture of her son and daughter to social media. “Then the next day Emily and the baby were gone,” McCulloch said. “It just boggles the mind.”
When reporters caught up with Terry Gainer, she said she was confused as to why Hutton would have perpetrated such a crime. “The million dollar question is why they were in that hotel room,” Gainer said. “They had a lovely little home nearby.” McDonald was considered to be like family to Gainer who loved her very much.
One of Us
Gainer said she met McDonald five years ago when she hired her as a nurse for the assisted living facility she owned. “She became a great part of our family. She was like one of our own,” Gainer said. She was an amazing nurse, helping residents to bathe and dress themselves and was a true asset to the team at Lilley Lodge.
The dead woman’s former boss said she was devastated as McDonald was so “kind-hearted and loving.” She added that McDonald, “had a gentle spirit. That’s why I hired her.” Gainer also said that to her mind the couple “seemed very happy together.” She recalled how excited McDonald was when she found out she was pregnant again.
As Gainer explained: “I remember how excited she was to tell me she was having a little girl,” she said. “She was such a good mom. She was so devoted to her children. She loved her children.” Gainer also put it best when she said, “As happy as they seemed, no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors.”
So many lives were ruined by the actions of one man and a whole community has been left distraught as a result. Al Hutton is the worst affected as he now has to deal with losing his wife, son and daughter-in-law and 8-week old granddaughter. For the rest of the people of Fairbanks, they may never know what drove McKay Hutton to kill his family and himself on that Thanksgiving night.