Willow man convicted in brutal 2018 slaying of wife

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 4:50 PM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - A Palmer jury convicted a man on Wednesday for the brutal 2018 murder of his wife.

Content warning: This article contains graphic details that some readers may find disturbing.

The jury found Michael James Kilgo, 63, of Willow, guilty of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the death of 56-year-old Hattie Labuff-Kilgo.

During the trial, the jury saw evidence that Kilgo had inflicted multiple wounds to his wife’s head using a splitting maul, according to a news release from the Department of Law. An autopsy revealed Labuff-Kilgo died of blunt force trauma.

He then set fire to her remains, which were later located in a pullout area near a roadway in Petersville. Kilgo also made attempts to burn the splitting maul used in the murder and other pieces of evidence that were found at the scene, the release said.

The jury did not find Kilgo’s arguments of self-defense to be sound.

Suspicion was raised when Alaska State Troopers were unable to make contact with Labuff-Kilgo when visiting her residence for a welfare check in late August 2018. Troopers determined at the time that she had traveled to Petersville, where her vehicle and remains were located a few days later.

Sentencing for Kilgo is scheduled for February 2023. He faces up to 99 years in prison for the first-degree murder conviction but may receive a longer sentence due to the additional charges of tampering with evidence and murder in the second degree.