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Letters From An American Tragedy: Couple Killed Children in Murder- Suicide

March 6, 1986

LEBANON, N.H. (AP) _ A couple who drugged and shot her children, torched their house, and killed themselves were ″tired of fighting the system″ over veterans benefits, according to letters they apparently wrote, citing the state motto: ″Live Free or Die.″

The letters purportedly written by Michael Dean and Caroline Hull, delivered Wednesday to WMUR-TV in Manchester and the Valley News here, say that the couple were ″totally sane″ Tuesday when they carried out the murder-suicide pact that ended their lives and those of her three children.

The letters said the action arose out of frustration over veterans benefits, ″out of deep love for each other,″ and out of ″continuous fears and threats we must live under from the world and our government.″

″We are tired of fighting the system our leaders want to forget,″ said a six-page letter received by WMUR after bodies believed to be those of Hull, 32, Dean, 43, and the children were found in the charred rubble of their home.

A similar, but not identical letter was mailed to the Valley News. Both letters, whose authenticity has not been verified, contained numerous spelling and grammatical errors, and bore the signatures Caroline Hull and Michael Dean.

The letters, both written from Mrs. Hull’s point of view, described the preparations, killings and fire as if they had happened. The handwriting in the WMUR version appeared to match Mrs. Hull’s signature; the handwriting in the newspaper’s version appeared to be that of Dean.

The badly burned bodies were found close together in the cellar of the home and were tentatively identified as Dean, Mrs. Hull and her children Kenneth, 11; Jeremy, 6, and Theresa, 4. The remains were sent to Maine for positive identification and autopsy by Dr. Henry Ryan, the state medical examiner.

″Before the children went to bed we dissolved sleeping pills in a glass of water that they always have before bedtime,″ said the letter to the newspaper. ″30 pills each so they would be totally asleep. Then I helped Mike prepare the house for the fire. Spreading clothes everywhere, making holes in the wall. We poured Kerosene (this sentence was crossed out) I then took sleeping pills. We all laid on a mattress in the cellar.″

″After Mike knew we were all asleep, and would feel no pain or suffer, he then shot us in the heart once,″ the WMUR letter said. ″He then poured Kerosine all over up stairs in closets, holes in the wall and etc. making a stream to the cellar. And then spread Kerosine all over the basement. With a sheet wet with fuel oil sticking out of the fuel tank and a 55 gal drum, He then lit the fire upstairs. Once he was sure the fire was going good, He laid on the mattress beside me and our children. Then lit the cellar on fire from laying down. He then shot himself.″

Firefighters found the couple’s car and truck parked in a ″V″ blocking the driveway when they arrived at the predawn fire Tuesday.

A letter about the deaths also went to John and Kitty Hull of Wilder, Vt., parents of Caroline Hull’s late husband. A letter also went to her own family in Hartland, Vt.

″Again I stress the point that Mike and myself are now, and at the time of this action, totally sane. And gave this many hours of discussion,″ Hull purportedly wrote to the Valley News.

″We are now all free and have our peace together,″ the letter ended, quoting the state motto that appears on New Hampshire license plates: ″Live Free or Die.″

The newspaper and TV station gave authorities the letters and photographs that accompanied them of the the family and house.

Change-of-address cards for Dean and Mrs. Hull left at the local post office before the fire gave the forwarding address: ″Deceased, took own life.″ The cards have been sent to the FBI for analysis.

Dean’s mother, Ruth Little of Florida, told the newspaper Wednesday that he was a disturbed young man after his return from military duty in Vietnam and Korea, and was a pyschiatric patient at the Veterans Administration hospital in White River Junction, Vt.

An official at the hospital told The Associated Press that Dean received $617 a month for a service-connected disability, but would not give specifics.

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