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Police say Berkeley County man shot son, set fire, then shot self

James A. "Mack" Hutzler and David C. Hutzler were found in mobile home

February 07, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • James A. "Mack" Hutzler
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Berkeley County man apparently shot his 9-year-old son and then set the mobile home in which they were residing on fire before taking his own life on Jan. 6, according to police.

James A. “Mack” Hutzler and David C. Hutzler, 56, were found in the master bedroom of his father’s mobile home at 436 Apple Harvest Drive west of Glengary, W.Va., police have said.

“There’s been nothing to lead us to believe there’s another party responsible for these acts,” West Virginia State Police Sgt. J.D. Burkhart said Tuesday when asked about the status of the investigation, which still is ongoing.

The evidence obtained so far indicates the father shot the boy and then shot himself after setting the fire, according to Burkhart.

Autopsies indicate the father and his son died from gunshot wounds to the head from a 9 mm pistol, police said. The boy had a second “glancing” gunshot on his chin, according to Burkhart.

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Assistant State Fire Marshal Patrick Barker said in an interview last week that the fire was intentionally set, but declined to release what was used to start the blaze.

“Jimmy,” an accelerant detection K-9 dog with the Loudoun County Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office, alerted to several areas at the fire scene indicating the presence of accelerants, police have said.

Family and friends of David Hutzler told police that he had become somewhat unstable over the past several months, according to Burkhart. The father indicated that he and his son were going on a vacation and not coming back, Burkhart said.

Burkhart said he believed Hutzler was divorced, but was unsure of any custody arrangements for the boy, whose obituary indicates he was from Martinsburg.

Firefighters saw heavy fire in the master bedroom when they arrived to battle the blaze, which was reported at 8:26 a.m., Barker had said. The bodies were found severely burned, and more than a third of the home was destroyed before the fire was extinguished, police have said.

A memorial service for James Hutzler will be held at Brown Funeral Home in Martinsburg Sunday, the day after what would have been his 10th birthday, according to the boy’s obituary.

State Police Trooper J.D. Brand, who is the investigating officer, also was assisted by Troopers Z.L. Nine Sr. and M.D. Gillmore, Assistant State Fire Marshal George Harms and Loudoun County (Va.) Assistant Fire Marshal William “Bud” Herndon, Jimmy’s handler.

Anyone with information regarding the incident can contact the State Police at 304-267-0001.

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