Stephen Sean Hutcheson, the 47-year-old dad who was the subject of an intense police manhunt in Alabama after he cold-bloodedly murdered his wife, 14-year-old daughter, and 12-year-old son, appears to have killed himself. The case was made additionally horrifying because, after calmly murdering his whole family, Hutcheson met his also-married girlfriend and the couple went on a 48-hour sex-and-drugs bender in a discount motel room.
While the two were partying, Hutcheson even insisted that they drive by his home several times — the home where the still-undiscovered bodies of his wife and kids still lay where he left them after he shot all three in the head.
When the unsuspecting girlfriend said she was worried that Hutcheson's wife might look out the window and see the two illicit lovers together, Hutcheson told her that there was nothing to be concerned about, the girlfriend later told police.
The bodies were discovered by a concerned relative who dropped by the house on the 5900 block of Coleman Lake Road in McCalla, Alabama, last Sunday, June 28. But Hutcheson is believed to have killed his wife Doris, 49, daughter Kimberly, and son Peyton on Friday evening.
Police at the time announced that they had no other suspects besides Hutcheson and that he was armed and dangerous.
But on the afternoon of July 4, shortly after 4 p.m., police received a call reporting a "suspicious vehicle" that had been driven off the road and into a wooded area. When the cops checked out the vehicle, they found that it was the Hutcheson family car, a 2005 silver Dodge Stratus.
They also found the body of a man inside, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators have said that the body is Stephen Hutcheson, though a medical examiner has yet to positively confirm their identification.
The body was lying dead in the silver car for several days, police said.
Hutcheson's married girlfriend cooperated with the police investigation, and investigators say that she appears to have no involvement in the murders — and was unaware of what her lover had done when he greeted her in the parking lot of a Winn-Dixie Supermarket shirtless the night of June 26.
The two lovers then bought and snorted cocaine, got drunk, checked into a motel, and had sex until Sunday night. Police say it now appears that shortly after their weekend binge, Hutcheson drove away and committed suicide.
"I suppose all things considered this is the ending we expected," said Jefferson County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Randy Christian. "It's the end of a tragic and sad case that shook us, a family and a community to the core. He took the answers to why and how this could happen with him."
Stephen Hutcheson would have faced four counts of capital murder, one each for the three family members he shot to death, and an additional capital charge because his son was under the age of 14.
[Images: Jefferson County Sheriff's Department]