AP Photo: Michael Dean and Caroline Hull with the Hull children
MURDER-SUICIDE IN N.H. FIRE DEATHS, OFFICIALS BELIEVE Bartlett, Ellen J Boston Globe 06 Mar 1986
WEST LEBANON, N.H. -- Michael Frank Dean and Caroline Hull killed themselves and her three children to protest United States government treatment of veterans and "because of the continuous fears and threats we must live under from the world and our government," according to letters they apparently wrote before taking their lives early Tuesday.
Similar letters, postmarked Tuesday morning, arrived at WMUR-TV in Manchester and the Valley News in Lebanon at noon yesterday. They told of how Dean and Hull planned to drug the children, then Dean was to shoot Hull and the children, set the house afire, and turn the gun on himself.
Five bodies were recovered Tuesday from the cellar hole of Hull's house on True's Brook Road, which burned to the ground early that morning.
Though the badly charred bodies have not been positively identified, the letters have led investigators to speculate the deaths were the result of a murder-suicide pact.
The letters, six pages long, apparently handwritten by Hull, 32, and signed with the names of both Hull and Dean, 43, described the deaths as though they had already occurred -- and why.
"This government is destroying the American family and the backbone of this country," Hull wrote in the letter sent to WMUR. "So I protected myself and my children before we lost everything or they took it away."
Both letters closed with these words: "We are free and with god," followed by the state motto: "LIVE FREE OR DIE N.H."
The news organizations turned over the letters, which differed slightly but contained the same message, to the New Hampshire attorney general's office.
"If the letters are authentic, then it certainly has got to be seriously considered that in all probability what happened was a murder-suicide," said David Plourde, an assistant attorney general. "Certainly it gives us a new perspective on the matter."
In the letters, Hull described how she placed 30 ground-up sleeping pills in the cups of water the children drank before bed. She described helping her boyfriend prepare the house for the fire by spreading clothes around and punching holes in the walls. She then took sleeping pills and lay down with her sleeping children. The letters continued:
"After Mike knew we were all asleep. And would feel no pain or suffer. He then shot us in the heart once. He then pourd Kerosine all over up stairs in closets, holes in the walls and etc. making a stream to the cellar. And then spread Kerosine all over the basement . . . . He then lit the fire up stairs. Once he was sure the fire was going good. He laid on the mattress beside me and our childern. Then lit the cellar on fire from laying down. He then shothimself."
By the time the fire was discovered by neighbors at 3:18 a.m. Tuesday, it was out of control. Hull also wrote that her car and Dean's pickup were purposely parked blocking the driveway so that fire trucks could not get to the house.
A letter apparently was also sent by Hull and Dean to the parents of Hull's husband, John Hull Jr., who died in 1983, and a tape was sent to Caroline Hull's parents in Hartland, Vt., according to the Valley News.
Hull's father, Kenneth Lowery, would not comment yesterday.
"She was our daughter. We were very close," he said.
In the letters, Hull said Michael Dean was a psychologically disabledVietnam veteran. The Veterans Administration confirmed yesterday that Dean had served two tours of duty in Vietnam with the Navy. His last tour ended in 1969. The VA also confirmed that he had been receiving monthly disability payments of $716. VA officials would not comment on whether Dean was receiving treatment, but they acknowledged they maintained a file on him.
John Hull Jr., Caroline Hull's husband, also was a disabled Vietnam veteran who had received treatment for psychological problems when they lived in Lancaster, N.H., according to family physician Brian Beattie.
John Hull died from what was determined to be an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, Beattie said. It was after her husband's death that Hull and her three children, Kenneth, 11; Jeremia, 6; and Theresa, 4; built the little yellow one-story ranch in West Lebanon.
Hull's aunt, who lives in Windsor, Vt., and asked that her name not be used, said Hull had been an acquaintance of Dean for a number of years. They had grown close after John Hull's death.
According to yesterday's letters, they lived together two years.
She had met Dean only a few times. She said the family had been aware that he was a veteran and had some problems.
"He came to the house here a few minutes one day to borrow something," she said. "We liked him. He was nice and patient with the children . . ."
"It's been quite a shock to them," she said of Caroline Hull's family.
Along with the letter received at the television station yesterday was this unsigned poem:
WHO AM I
I am Brown, Black, White, Yellow and Red;
I may be handicapped, hurting, or sometimes dead.
Because of sickness, accident or lead from a gun;
I may never know again, the true feeling of fun.
Small things taken for granted I may not be able to do;
Small things taken for my sacrifices for the Red, White and Blue.
Small things as seeing, having children and taking care of a wife;
Small things as walking, talking and longevity in life.
I was the first to serve and fight for our right;
I was the first to stand for our principles and might.
Part of me lived, but part of me had to die;
But I thank God I had the courage to try.
I have earned the right to live in this land;
I have the right for a helping hand.
Please remember me because of love and not just a dept;
Please remember me, I'm the American Vet + widows + children.
This poem is in memory of us.