John Hruby from Duncan, Oklahoma, was a publisher at the Marlow Review, where he worked alongside his wife, Katherine. He was the former publisher of The Duncan Banner where his late father, Al Hruby, was the former publisher before taking leadership. In 1997, the Hruby family sold The Duncan Banner, and John started working at the Marlow Review. The couple had a 17-year-old daughter, also named Katherine, and a 19-year-old son, Alan. Katherine was a junior at Duncan High School while Alan was attending the University of Oklahoma.
At around 9AM on the 13th of October, 2014, Duncan police received a distraught phone call from the Hruby’s housekeeper. She said that when she arrived for work, she found the dead bodies of John, Katherine Sr. and Katherine Jr.. They had all been shot dead.
Police arrived at the home at 1217 Bent Tree and cordoned off the scene as neighbours congregated in the street. “It’s sad, it’s very shocking,” said one neighbour. “They were a good family. They would always help you out. If your car wouldn’t start, they’d come over and jump it, or if your dog ran off, they’d try to help you catch it. Just neighbourly things…”1
The murders completely terrified the locals and many were left wondering if it was a robbery gone terribly wrong. However, it would soon become apparent that this was an isolated incident but was much more complex than initially suspected…
Just hours after the grim discovery, Alan was arrested on an unrelated charge. Back in January, Alan had pleaded guilty to a charge of credit card theft. He had stolen his grandmother’s credit card. He entered a delayed sentencing program, owed $491.15 in fines and court costs and had been scheduled to appear in court on the 12th of November for a final sentencing.2
When Alan was arrested after the murders, investigators announced that he had been charged with concealing stolen property in relation to the stolen credit card. However, they then announced that Alan was the sole suspect in the murders of his parents and his sister. When Alan was arrested and informed about the murders, he began “wailing and crying and having a hard time.” However, he soon enough “settled down” and allowed investigators to interview him.3
It soon became apparent that Alan was living much beyond his means and reveled in the notion that people found his wealth to be impressive. Well, his parents’ wealth which he proclaimed to be his own wealth. According to students at the University of Oklahoma, Alan often bragged about how wealthy he was and would go on spending splurges. He wore a Rolex watch, Louis Vuitton shoes and flew first class. He often tagged his social media posts with “expensive” and mocked people who ate instant noodles. When he stole his grandmother’s credit card, he took a trip to Europe and spent $5,000. Two years beforehand, he had assaulted his mother during an argument over money.
Shortly after his arrest, Alan confessed to the triple murder. He said that he had stolen his father’s gun and approached his mother in the kitchen. When Katherine Sr. turned to him, he shot her in the head. After she fell to the floor, she still showed signed of life so Alan advised that he fired a second shot into her. Katherine Jr. was washing her car outside and when she came into the kitchen, Alan shot her once. He informed investigators that he believed that she died instantly. Alan then waited for his father to come home from work around an hour later. As soon as John entered the home, Alan shot him in the head. He said that his father said “ouch” as he fell to the ground. He noticed that there were still signs of life so he shot his father once again.4
Alan said that after the murders, he took the surveillance footage from the home recording system and fled to the University of Oklahoma in the jeep that his father had purchased him as a gift. He then went to a party at the at the Ritz-Carlton. According to Alan, he had been motivated to commit the murders because he had been cut off financially. His family said that he could not control his spending; he owed $3.000 to a Norman loan company and was being investigated for having stolen and forged $17,500 worth of checks. Alan stated that he believed if he killed his family, he would inherit their estate.
Prosecutors would announce that they were seeking the death penalty against Alan, stating that he had killed for money, that he had killed three people, that he was a continued threat to society and because the murders were especially heinous, atrocious or cruel. They noted that the evidence against Alan was overwhelming. In addition to his confession, his DNA was found on blue gloves that were recovered with the handgun.5
Alan would eventually plead guilty to three counts of murder and was sentenced to serve three consecutive life sentences without parole and no contact with his family or with the media. His family had requested the life sentences and according to District Attorney Jason Hicks, if they had not of done so, he most likely would have been sentenced to death. The purpose of Alan not having contact with his family or with the media was to avoid the possibility of book or movie deals where Alan would profit.
- Ad Express & Daily Iowegian, 13 October, 2014 – “Police Investigating Death of Okla. Newspaper Publisher, Family”
- Americus Times-Recorder, 14 October, 2014 – “Deaths of Couple, Teen Daughter Treated Like Homicide”
- Americus Times-Recorder, 14 October, 2014 – “Son Only Suspect in Oklahoma Triple Murder”
- The Duncan Banner, 16 October, 2014 – “Affidavit Describes Slaying”
- The Oklahoman, 17 June, 2015 – “Prosecutors Will Seek Death Penalty in Duncan Triple Killing”