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How Did He Die? Who Killed Kent Leppink?


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In the murder-mystery case of who killed Kent Leppink back in 1996, new developments over the course of several years have changed the matter’s entire nature. Yet, we’ll be honest; no evidence has been more compelling than the letter Kent himself wrote to his parents in the days just before his passing, suggesting where they could find his killer/s. Thus, it is not surprising that Investigation Discovery’s ‘People Magazine Investigates’ has covered the case in an episode entitled ‘Alaskan Temptress.’ So now, if you’re here curious to know all the details about the same, we’ve got you covered.

How Did Kent Leppink Die?

Kent Leppink was born and brought up in Michigan before moving to Alaska to work as a fisherman. According to his parents, he always had an impulsive streak, which sometimes landed him in trouble, especially as he’d already been caught stealing money from the family business. Along with Kent, they had hoped that Alaska would be a better place for him with its promise of a new beginning. Unfortunately, though, soon after, the 36-year-old’s cold and lifeless body was recovered from near a deserted road about 90 miles south of Anchorage – in Hope, Alaska.

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As per reports, it was by pure chance that an electrical crew happened to be in the nearby woods on May 2, 1996, when they spotted a red jacket and thus discovered Kent. He had been shot to death, taking a bullet each to his back, stomach, and cheek. The shell casings were all found near him, but there were no signs of a weapon. Because of where and how Kent was, the authorities determined that it was a homicide. An autopsy, while detailing that it was impossible to ascertain his exact time of death, only that it had to be within a day or two, corroborated that.

Who Killed Kent Leppink?

Image Credit: CBS News / 48 Hours

The same day Kent’s body was discovered, his parents received a letter from him about his Alaskan roommates, John Carlin, Scott Hilke, and Mechele Linehan. The latter was Kent’s then-fiancée, but she was also romantically involved with both John and Scott. Three days before Kent had died, he had written and mailed a letter within a letter to his parents, with the first one ominously asking them not to open the second until unless something happened to him. Within the second, he said that if he died under suspicious circumstances, it was probably John, Scott, or Mechele who did it.

“Do me another favor, make sure Mechele goes to jail for a long time,” he wrote. But he also added that they should “tell her how much I really did love her. I really did want to marry her and make all her dreams come true.” When Mechele was subsequently interviewed, she was seemingly unaware that anything bad had happened, having spent a few days in Lake Tahoe with Scott, who had moved out months before. She began to sob when the officers told her that her fiancé had died, and later, through tears, she revealed that Kent owned a gun and that there was a $1 million insurance policy under his name.

The latter comment was quite self-incriminating as it was completely unprompted. When detectives pursued that lead, they discovered that together, Kent and Mechele had taken out a $1 million life insurance policy on him just four weeks before the slaying. However, Mechele did not know that Kent had cut her out as the beneficiary shortly before he died. When it came time for Scott Hilke to be interrogated, he admitted that he was surprised to be a suspect as he wasn’t even in Alaska at the time of the murder. And even though Scott failed a polygraph test, he was never charged in connection to the matter.

In fact, it took over ten years for any criminal charges in Kent Leppink’s case to be filed. Mechele Linehan and John Carlin III were both arrested in 2006 and were subsequently tried, convicted, and sentenced for Kent’s murder. But with the missing murder weapon and the letter Kent wrote as one of the only circumstantial pieces of evidence against them, they were acquitted after filing for appeals. Now, the Alaska Department of Public Safety and other involved authorities consider the investigations into Kent Leppink’s killing open and ongoing.

Read More: Where Is Mechele Linehan Now?

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