DUNCAN, Okla. – The son of a murdered newspaper publisher is the only suspect in the investigation to determine who shot to death the publisher, his wife and teenage daughter at their home, Police Chief Danny Ford said Tuesday night.
Alan Hruby, 19, has been in the Stephens County Jail on a charge of concealing stolen property in connection with a stolen check case since Monday afternoon, shortly after being alerted to his family’s triple murder at their upscale home in this southwest Oklahoma town.
Ford said authorities consider “no one other than him” a suspect in the investigation. Thus far no one has been charged with the murders.
John Hruby, 50, publisher of the weekly Marlow Review and the Comanche County Chronicle, his wife Katherine “Tinker” Hruby, 48, and their daughter, Katherine, 17, a high school junior, were found Monday morning by the housekeeper. Authorities said they had been murdered some time Thursday night.
Authorities released few details about the case. Friends of the family reported that John Hruby was shot twice, his wife once and their daughter once.
The type of weapon used in the murders was not identified, but Ford said Hruby had reported to police that his 9mm handgun was recently stolen from his home.
Authorities said no weapon was found at the murder scene. Nor, they added, was there any evidence of forced entry. The DVR from the home security system was missing.
Son Alan is a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, and was notified to come home from school by the housekeeper’s daughter around 9 a.m. Monday “because something was wrong,” said Ford. When he arrived, police asked him to come to the station so they could inform him of the tragedy.
Ford said the son became distraught when the police chaplain told him of deaths, “wailing and crying and having a hard time.” But, the chief added, “he settled down,” allowing investigators and the district attorney to interview him.
The son was later booked on the stolen check complaint, pending further investigation into the triple murder. He has remained in jail since.
The deaths didn’t become public until Monday afternoon when the Marlow Review posted a notice to its website. John and Tinker Hruby did not show up for work at the paper Friday. The daughter, a popular varsity volleyball player, did not attend school Friday.
District Attorney Jason Hicks said investigators are gathering evidence from the home and elsewhere in the effort to solve the tragedy that stunned this community of 23,000 about 90 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
The scene of the crime was near the site of a much-publicized random, drive-by shooting death a year ago of an Australian baseball player in town to visit his girlfriend. That murder also staggered the community.
“They were lovely people and provided a great service with the newspaper,” said Debbie Ridley, executive director of the Marlow Chamber of Commerce. “ We were all stunned. You just can’t wrap your head around it.”
The Hruby son had a troubled past, said authorities. He was charged in August of 2013 with illegally charging $5,000 on his grandmother’s stolen credit card while vacationing in Europe.
He pleaded guilty in January and was placed on delayed sentencing, a form of probation, for youthful offenders. But he was also ordered by the court to pay restitution, undergo substance abuse evaluation, attend drug and alcohol counseling, and complete a cognitive behavior program.
He was scheduled to return to court on Nov. 12 for final sentencing on the fraudulent use of a credit card charge.
Publisher Hruby was well known in Oklahoma newspaper circles and in Duncan, where his family owned the daily Duncan Banner for three generations before selling the paper in 1997. He bought the Marlow Review in 2007 and the Comanche County Chronicle in 2013. He was named vice president of the foundation of the Oklahoma Press Association four months ago.
Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the press association, said Hruby was an avid pilot and gifted computer technician. He said he always seemed upbeat and got back into the newspaper business a decade after selling the Duncan paper because he “missed not having a voice in the community.”
Details for this story were reported by The Duncan Banner.