Motive still unclear in family’s murder-suicide, Fairbanks police say
Last updated at 10:39 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27
Fairbanks police are investigating an incident at a local hotel that left four people dead as a murder and suicide.
According to a release from the Fairbanks Police Department (FPD), officers and the Fairbanks Fire Department responded to the Hampton Inn at 433 Harold Bentley Ave. after hotel staff called about a “suspicious circumstance.”
When officers arrived at the scene, they found a man sitting in the hallway crying. Police say he directed them to a nearby hotel room where officers found the four people — three adults and a child — dead of apparent gunshot wounds. Police said in a statement the shooting appears to have occurred shortly before officers arrived.
Police spokesman Doug Wellborn said a single firearm was found inside the hotel room.
Friday night, police released the names of the deceased:
- 54-year-old Linda Hutton
- 22-year-old Emily McDonald
- 22-year-old McKay Hutton
- 8-week-old Teagan Hutton
“Preliminary investigation shows McKay shot the other three victims and then committed suicide,” Wellborn wrote.
Wellborn stated that the man crying in the hallway is a family member of at least one of the victims, and is not considered a suspect in the investigation. He said police do not believe he was present for the shooting.
Yumi McCulloch, a spokeswoman for FPD, said the victims were related to one another — Linda Hutton was McKay Hutton’s mother, and McDonald and McKay Hutton were married and were both parents to Teagan.
Mason Jefferies calls himself a school buddy to McKay Hutton, whom he described as a family man. He said McKay Hutton took in McDonald’s son from a previous relationship and treated him as his own son. McKay Hutton posted on the Facebook group Fairbanks “ROCKS”!, showing off some of the family’s adventures at local parks.
“He’s an overall great person, and he’s a lovable man,” Jefferies said in a phone interview. “A little rowdy at times, but he’s a very fun person, and lovable.”
Jefferies said McDonald was kindhearted like her husband, and he was surprised when he learned of their deaths.
“They loved each other, they loved their country, and I don’t see a reason why they would have any complications in their relationship, but everybody has things that go on in their life that people don’t understand, so people are quick to judge, and they should take a sec to realize this tragic situation and give prayers for that,” he said.
McDonald’s mother, Linda Hendrick, recently moved away from Anchorage to New Mexico, but said since hearing the news, she has made plans to return.
“When I was called and notified that my daughter and grand daughter were murdered, I fell to my knees and cried like never before,” she said. “This news has destroyed me. No one deserves this! Emily was a wonderful person, and an amazing mother.”
Hendrick said McDonald was exploring the idea of becoming a registered nurse, having acquired her CNA license. She was working at Lilley Lodge LLC, an assisted-living home, and was on maternity leave when she died, her boss Terryann Gainer confirmed.
Police said there was no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved in the deaths, and they were still investigating the motive behind the crime.
“There have been questions regarding another child. That child’s identity is not being released at this time but he was not present during this incident and is safe,” Wellborn said. “Relationship between this child and any of the victims is still being investigated.”
The Hampton Inn posted a statement to the hotel’s Facebook page Saturday morning:
FPD stated there is no threat to public safety in this case. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Detective Avery Thompson at 907-459-6549 or by email at email@example.com.
This is a developing story; please check back for updates.
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