The murders of the Hoffman family by Grace Hoffman and the beating to death of Michael Allen by Ricky Lux are spotlighted on this episode of Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda.
September 24, 1978, Colorado Springs, and police are called to a house on the rural outskirts. There they find two adults and two children, all from the same family and all dead from gunshot wounds to the head.
The victims are Timothy Hoffman, 58, his wife Grace Hoffman, 51, their 12-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter Delilah.
An examination of the crime scene finds no evidence of forced entry and no sign that anything has been taken from the house.
Timothy was found in his bed, seemingly shot in the temple whilst he was asleep. Delilah was found in her bed in the next room, she had been shot in the chest and then the head.
In living room police found the boy, he’d been shot whilst standing up and detectives believe he knew what was happening as he’d wet himself before he was murdered.
The final body was that of Grace and she was found in the kitchen with a contact gunshot wound to her head, she also had a gun in her hand.
Initially it looked like a murder-suicide, but the detectives thought it was unusual that the gun was still in Grace’s hand and also it was fairly uncommon for suicide victims to shoot themselves directly in the forehead.
The investigators decided to keep an open mind and began to interview locals. Timothy’s brother Brodie Hoffman lived down the street and a neighbor told police he was quite an odd man who often behaved in a peculiar manner. However, when Kenda and his fellow officers went to tell Brodie the news, he seemed genuinely shocked and appalled by what had happened to his brother.
The investigation then widened and they started talking to the victim’s work colleagues. One of Grace’s co-workers told them that she had become very worried about her cancer coming back and about the impact of modern life on her kids. Further investigation revealed her cancer was not back and that she was seeing a psychiatrist about her delusions. She’d also began to think the upcoming Middle East peace deal was a sign the world might be ending.
Kenda soon began to think Grace was the killer after all and a note found amongst the family’s legal documents confirmed her delusions and deadly intentions.
The second crime features on this episode took place in the early hours of March 1, 1988, at the Corsica Motel, where Joyce Thigpen was working the late shift. She got a call from one of the residents to say a man had burst into their room and that there had been a fight.
Police arrived to find Ricky Lux and his girlfriend, Charlene Krusemark, outside their room, with a badly injured man inside. The man was fellow resident Michael Allen and Ricky told detectives that he and Charlene were just watching TV when Michael burst in and went crazy, Ricky says he fought back in self defence.
Charlene told a slightly different story, explaining to Kenda that Ricky went out for cigarettes and whilst he was gone, Michael arrived and started giving her abuse. This difference the in pair’s story together, the amount of blood splatter in the room and the lack any sign of forced entry, made the detectives decide to take them both in for further questioning.
It turned out that Charlene was a stripper at the Queen’s Court strip bar, where Ricky also worked as a bouncer. On the night of the killing he’d refused to go outside the main room whilst Charlene danced and instead had watched the whole thing. The owner explained that they preferred if he stayed out of sight when his girlfriend was dancing to avoid any problems.
Events then took a turn for the worse when Michael died in hospital, making Ricky demand a lawyer and take advantage of his right to silence. However, the news made Charlene come clean and she described how they met Michael by chance on the way home. He was drunk and Ricky asked him in for a few drinks, with the three of them hanging out and having some fun.
At some point Michael pulled out his wallet and asked Ricky how much it was to hire Charlene, assuming she was working as a prostitute. This enraged Ricky, who then proceeded to beat Michael to a pulp. At one point he actually kneeled on Michael Chest and pummelled his face over and over with his fists.
Kenda believes that Ricky did not intent to kill Michael and that his rage was probably built up from having spent the night watching other men lusting after his stripping girlfriend.
Ricky was later found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to ten years in prison, Charlene was not charged.
Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda – End of Days airs at 10:00 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.