Louis Hastings
Louis Hastings.png
Background information
Birth name Louis D. Hastings
Occupation Computer programmer
Born (1944-01-01) January 1, 1944 (age 77)
Leawood, Kansas, United States
Penalty 634 years in prison
Spouse(s) Madelein D. Stovel
Attack information
Date March 1, 1983
8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location(s) McCarthy, Alaska, United States
Killed 6
Injured 2
Weapon(s) Ruger Mini-14
Two pistols

Louis D. Hastings was an American who killed six people and wounded two others in McCarthy, Alaska, United States on March 1, 1983. He was arrested and sentenced to 634 years in prison.


Life[edit | edit source]

Hastings was born in Leawood, Kansas on January 1, 1944. When his father, who was said to have been a difficult person, returned home after the end of World War II, he disapproved of his infant son and abused him psychologically. He later left the family. According to his mother and sister Hastings was a shy child and as a youth was treated for chronic depression, though he grew up to become a caring and gentle adult who loved animals. Being an environmentalist he once volunteered to clean birds after an oil spill off the Californian coast. After school he served in the Air Force, later became a computer programmer and began to work in this profession at Stanford University around 1975. His colleagues described him as introverted person, who didn't talk much and was excessively worried about his personal safety. They also stated that he had a high opinion of his work, although his programming skills were only mediocre.[39][40]

In June 1979 Hastings married Madelein D. Stovel, a Stanford librarian, and during their honeymoon at the Kennecott Lodge near McCarthy they decided to quit their jobs in California and move to Alaska the following spring. In 1980 they eventually moved into a duplex in Anchorage from where Hastings operated a computer service company, but without much success. Disturbed by the economic development and population growth it brought he became increasingly opposed to the Trans-Alaska pipeline and contemplated to stop this process by destroying it. According to a psychiatrist he essentially considered himself the saviour of Alaskan wilderness.[39][40]

To escape the influence of civilisation Hastings and his wife purchased an unoccupied house on the property of the Kennecott copper mine about five miles from McCarthy and spent the summer of 1982 repairing the building. By early 1983 his computer business began to falter and due to marital problems his wife stayed in Anchorage most of the time. As a consequence Hastings started to elaborate his attack plan on the pipeline which had come to his mind about a year earlier, bought guns and at least 2,000 rounds of ammunition, built a silencer that was covered in beaver fur for a pistol he wanted to use, and prepared for the murders by shooting a rabbit. He also compiled a list of 200 of Alaska's political and civic leaders, including the phone numbers and home addresses of the members of the Anchorage Police Department's Crisis Intervention Response Team.[39][40]

According to Hastings' own testimony his plan comprised the extermination of all the residents of McCarthy to wipe out all possible witnesses. Subsequently he wanted to kill the mail plane pilot, use the aircraft to dump the bodies on the glaciers of the Wrangell Mountains, and then land on a highway and rig the plane to take off by itself. Afterwards he wanted to incapacitate the pipeline, hijack a fuel truck, and commit suicide by crashing into a pipeline pump station, in hope that the incineration of his body would prevent his family from knowing that he was repsonsible for the attack. The psychiatrist who examined him after his arrest doubted that Hastings had made such a plan, because his inflated sense of self-worth would have prevented him from taking his own life.[39][40]

Shooting[edit | edit source]

On February 28, 1983 Hastings spent the evening at the home of his neighbour Chris Richards, drinking and playing board games. The following morning, at 8:30 a.m., he armed himself with two pistols and returned to Richards' home, who invited him in for a cup of coffee. As Richards reached for cup, Hastings fired a shot at him, destroying his eyeglasses and injuring his eye, while a second round grazed his head, or neck. When Richards fell to the ground and asked Hastings to stop shooting, Hastings mocked him, stating that he would make his death easy, if he didn't fight. Enraged Richards jumped to his feet, and began to struggle with Hastings, during which he grabbed a knife from the table. After stabbing Hastings, causing a slight injury in his left chest and in the right thigh Richards fled towards the Kennecott tourist lodge, was shot at by Hastings nicked in right arm, and went further to the home of Tim Nash when he didn't find anyone there, Hastings followed his trail, set the cabin on fire, then returned home and grabbed a Ruger Mini-14 with silencer covered in fur, wrapped with black electrical tape, its stock and front sight removed, went four miles to the cabin of Les and Flo Hegland, which served as a makeshift post office and had the only radio powerful enough to contact outside world, arriving there kicked open door and shot both Heglands, as well as Maxine Edwards, who had come there to wait for mail plane, then made sure they were dead by shooting them again in the head, dragged bodies to rear bedroom stacking them on each other, left silencer on nightstand[39][40]

mail plane arrived from Glennallen every Tuesday[39]

Tim Nash arrived at Hegland cabin to warn the couple of Hastings, after taking Richards to airstrip to be flown out, was armed with shotgun, saw blood in kitchen, then saw Hastings on back porch, fired a shot at him, slightly wounding Hastings, Hastings returned fire, hitting Nash in right leg, Nash then fled back to airfield, told people what had happened, asked his wife Amy to fly to Glennallen with Richards, she declined, when Richards was flown off by pilot Gary Greene, Hastings opened fire at the Nashes from a distance of about 250 yards, fired about ten rounds hitting them, then approached shooting them again in the head and dragged bodies down runway trying to hide them behind snow berm,[39][40]

Harley King arrived on snowmachine, pulling Donna Byram on dogsled behind, saw Hastings standing beside the bodies, Hastings fired at them, struck Byram in right arm, hit King with shot in leg, King lost control over machine, crashed, knocking both of them off the vehicles, then ran towards them, Byram fled when told by King to flee, Hastings wanting to go after her, but changed mind when King yelled at him, killed King with two bullets in back of his head, then pursued Byram, but lost her at the Hegland home, by that time, at around 11 a.m. mail plane arrived, pilot Lynn Ellis was warned by Greene not to land, because Hastings was shooting people, Ellis called base, asked them to alert state police, then returned to Glennallen, troopers would arrive by helicopter an hour and a half later,[39][40]

Running out of potential victims Hastings put two duffel bags with guns, several hundred rounds of ammunition and other gear on snowmachine of Nashes, headed out into wilderness, was discovered by troopers around 2 p.m. when they were flying over him, told them he was Chris Richards, one of the survivors, and that Louis Hastings had gone berserk and was shooting people, but since the troopers had a description of the gunman and knew that Richards was treated at hospital in Glennallen, they arrested him, and flow back to McCarthy, where he admitted that he was the sought gunman. Together with Donna Byram they then flew back to Gelnnallen.[39][40]

Victims[edit | edit source]

  • Maxine Edwards, 52
  • Flo Hegland, 58
  • Les Hegland, 64, husband of Flo Hegland
  • Harley King, 61
  • Amy Nash, 25
  • Tim Nash, 38, husband of Amy Nash

Those wounded were:

  • Donna Byram, 32, shot in right arm
  • Christopher Richards, 29, shot in eye, head and arm

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

According to psychiatrist had a personality disorder, considering himself an exceptional person, was tried in 1984 for six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, pleaded no contest, Hastings was sentenced on July 27, 1984 to six ninety-nine year terms for the first-degree murder convictions, and two twenty-year terms for the attempted murder convictions. All terms were to be served consecutively. Hastings appealed, claimed he was temporarily insane due to inhalation of organic copper, was dismissed. As of 1998 he was held at the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.[39][40] Currently held at Spring Creek Correctional Facility in Seward, Ak.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Brennan, Tom: Murder at 40 Below - True Crime Stories from Alaska; Epicenter Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0945397991
  • Coughlin, Kevin: The End of the Road; in flux, No. 6, 1998. (pp. 13-21)
  • Faber, Christian: Alaska - Ice Cold Killers: Frozen Terror; Investigation Discovery, 2012. (44 min.)

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 6 killed in Alaska in shooting spree, The New York Times (March 3, 1983)
  2. Gunman kills six in Alaska village, Eugene Register-Guard (March 2, 1983)
  3. Shooting spree shocks Alaskan mining town, The Free-Lance Star (March 3, 1983)
  4. Murderer sentenced to 634 years, The Bulletin (July 29, 1984)
  5. Hastings v. State, 736 P.2d 1157 (Alaska Ct. App. 1987), [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  6. Gunman kills six in Alaska village, The Victoria Advocate (March 3, 1983)
  7. Gunman goes on rampage, kills six, The Leader-Post (March 2, 1983)
  8. Man pleads no contest to charges of killing six, Observer-Reporter (December 6, 1983)
  9. Shooting spree stuns mining town, The Gadsden Times (March 3, 1983)
  10. Villagers in Alaska shot, killed, Observer-Reporter (March 3, 1983)
  11. Killer gets 634-year term, The Day (July 28, 1984)
  12. Weapon list found in mass murder case, Gainesville Sun (March 10, 1983)
  13. Alaska mass killer gets 634 years, The Courier (July 29, 1984)
  14. Alaska man sentenced to 634 years in prison, The Gadsden Times (July 28, 1984)
  15. [1], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  16. [2], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
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  28. [14], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  29. [15], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
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  31. [17], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  32. [18], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  33. [19], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  34. [20], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  35. Massacre survivors try to forget McCarthy's fateful day, Juneau Empire (August 3, 1998)
  36. Killer of Six Alaskans Gets a 634-Year Term, [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  37. [], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  38. [], [[Wikipedia:|]] ()
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 39.6 39.7 39.8 39.9 Brennan, Tom: Murder at 40 Below - True Crime Stories from Alaska; Epicenter Press, 2001. (pp. 171-185)
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 40.4 40.5 40.6 40.7 40.8 Coughlin, Kevin: The End of the Road; in flux, No. 6, 1998. (pp. 13-21)

External links[edit | edit source]

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