Suspect Was Diagnosed With Gulf Syndrome
The Associated Press
CRESTVIEW - A man accused of killing his girlfriend and her three children last week is an Amry veteran once diagnosed as suffering from Gulf War illness, a Washington state television station reported.
Jeffrey G. Hutchinson, 35, was arrested Friday night at a home he shared with the victims near Crestview after calling 911 to report he had killed his family, said Okaloosa County sheriff's spokesman Rick Hord.
The only explanation investigators had Monday for the shotgun killings was that they followed an argument earlier in the evening.
But Hutchinson's 12 year old son, Geoff, in Spokane, Washington, blamed the government for the deaths because of the illness his father claimed he brought back from the Persian Gulf.
"I'm just sorry it happened," the boy told Spokane station KREM-TV on Sunday. "And I care for him a lot and I love him, but , I mean, he does need psychatric help."
Hutchinson, who worked here as a self-employed bodyguard, was the subject of a special on Gulf War disease the station produced in 1996. KREM-TV reported at the time that he was a former Army Ranger who watched clouds rising from bombed Iraqi bunkers.
After returning from the war, Hutchinson claimed he ofter vomitied blood. The station flew him to Los Angeles where a specialist said his illness was terminal.
Veterans have complained of a variety of ailments ranging from chronic fatigue to memory loss, but Pentagon studies have concluded there is no single cause.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs often denies claims when illnesses cannot be categorized or treated, according to members of Congress who have been critical of how the government has handled the Gulf War ailments.
When depties arrived at his home Friday, they found Hutchinson lying face-down in the garage, his clothing splattered with blood, Hord said.
Inside the house, they found the bodies of Renee' LaDean Flaherty, 32, and her children: Logan,4: Amanda,6, and Jeffery,8. Autopsies confirmed all had been killed with a shotgun, Hord said.
Hutchinson's arrest report indicates he had an argument with Flaherty earlier Friday evening and ended up at a Crestview AMVETS lounge. The manager there declined comment, saying an investigator advised her not to talk to reporters.
Lakeland Ledger 9/15/98
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