Mechele Linehan with current husband, Colin Linehan (L). Mechele (then Hughes) with Kent Leppink (R).
11 YEARS AFTER THE HUNT FOR THE MURDERER OF AN ALASKAN FISHERMAN WENT COLD, A DOCTOR’S WIFE IS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE.
IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, SHE TELLS “48 HOURS MYSTERY”
“A WITCH I MAY BE, BUT A PSYCHOPATH I AM DEFINITELY NOT”
“48 HOURS MYSTERY” — SATURDAY, MARCH 8, 2008
Mechele Linehan is described by her Olympia, Wash. neighbors as a pillar of the community. But to Alaskan authorities the physician’s wife and PTA mom was a manipulative seductress who they suspected was responsible for the murder of an Alaskan fisherman a decade earlier. “I just feel like there is nothing I can do to make people believe me or make people like me,” Linehan tells correspondent Susan Spencer in an exclusive interview with 48 HOURS MYSTERY on Saturday, March 8 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.** “A witch I may be, but a psychopath I am definitely not.” The body of Kent Leppink was discovered in woods outside Anchorage on May 2, 1996. He had been shot point blank in the back, stomach and face, but more disturbing than the crime was a sealed letter Leppink sent to his parents days earlier with instructions to open it if something were to happen to him. In the letter he named three suspects, including the woman he wanted to marry, Mechele Linehan (then known as Mechele Hughes), a local exotic dancer, and Scott Hilke and John Carlin, who in a bizarre twist also claimed to be engaged to Linehan.
According to many, Hughes was a conniving temptress who used her feminine wiles to prey on vulnerable men. And Hilke, Carlin and Leppink were not immune to her charms, showering her with gifts. According to authorities Carlin was even willing to kill for her.
Linehan tells a different story. “Anybody else that knew me or worked with me didn’t feel that way,” she says. “You tell me how a 22-year-old girl can make grown men do these things.” She also refutes the notion that she was engaged to the three men during this period. “The only person I agreed to marry was Scott [Hilke].” And she claims that she only pretended to be engaged to Leppink as a front to his parents. “I think [he] was gay…he could never tell his family he was gay….He was frantic.”
Authorities were always convinced that Linehan masterminded the murder while Carlin carried it out, but despite a financial motive of collecting on a life insurance policy and a series of suspicious letters, they had no murder weapon or DNA to connect them to the crime. That is, until 2004 when a new witness and forensic technology led a determined cold case squad right back to their initial suspects and eventually Linehan and Carlin were convicted.
For Leppink’s family, these convictions bring closure but little comfort. For Mechele’s current husband Colin Linehan, it means the start of his own family tragedy. Speaking exclusively with 48 HOURS, Colin says, “This whole thing is surreal. [A] nerve-shattering, anxiety-provoking nightmare…the bottom line is that’s not who she is.” Yet, as he adjusts to his own loss, his heart still goes out to the Leppink family. “Their son is dead. You can’t take back the dead. I have nothing but sympathy for them.”
Susan Spencer reports this bizarre case of money, power, greed, and sex on 48 HOURS MYSTERY: “Love and Death in the Wild.” This broadcast is produced by Josh Yager. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer and Al Briganti is the executive editor. Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.
Michelle’s conviction was overturned by the Alaska Court of Appeals. However, that is not the end of the case at all. The Prosecution has to decide whether they are going to appeal the overturned verdict or retry the case. It is doubtful that they will just not do anything. Theoretically Mechele should have a bail hearing soon as well.
Editors’ Note: Click Here to watch a preview of the broadcast. CBS News 48 HOURS MYSTERY broadcasts are now available on iTunes.com.
**Please note this is a special two-hour broadcast beginning at 9 PM