Was the game up for ex-stripper Mechele?

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Mechele Linehan. (Photo: PA Photos)

Mechele Linehan. (Photo: PA Photos)

The past is the past, right?

In 2006, Mechele Linehan had the perfect life. A rich, doctor husband, a big house, and young daughter she doted on. No reason to think back 10 years, to when she was a penniless stripper.

Until one morning, when the police knocked on her door… Instantly, she thought back to one day in 1996, when her fiance had been found shot dead in a forest in Hope, Alaska. Well, one of her fiances. Because 23-year-old Mechele had been engaged to three different men – Scott Hilke, John Carlin and Kent Leppink.

It was poor Kent, 36, who was found dead. He’d walked into the Great Alaskan Bush Company, where she was dancing, just months after she’d moved there.

With her dark hair and slim physique, she was easily one of the most popular dancers. Kent was smitten. Within weeks they’d got engaged.

Trouble was, a year later, she also agreed to marry another customer, Scott Hilke.

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Lover number 2: Scott Hilke. (Photo: PA Photos)

Then a year after that, John Carlin! Eventually they all discovered she was engaged to other men. But bizarrely, they agreed to carry on with this strange web of love.

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Lover number 3: John Carlin. (Photo: PA Photos)

Soon though, lust, pride and envy crept in. And then, in spring 1996 – murder.

Kent’s bullet-riddled body was found in the woods. Police started looking into the people who might have a motive. Mechele.

Firstly, because she was the one involved in the strange dating game. Secondly, she believed she was the one who’d benefit from Kent’s million-dollar life insurance policy. A policy she’d arranged and paid for a few months earlier.

But two days before the murder, Kent had removed her name. Why?

A few days after Kent died, his parents received a letter. It’d been written by him two days before the murder. Mechele, John or Scott were probably the people who killed me. The trio were questioned but nothing came of it.

The investigation stalled. Mechele went to college, married a doctor, had a family. And soon, not one hint of her past remained.

But in 2004, a new detective joined the police cold case unit, and pulled the Kent Leppink murder out. They found a note that John Carlin had written to Mechele, about going to stay in a log cabin in Hope, the day of Kent’s murder.

It was all a lie – there was no cabin. But they left it in the house to make Kent jealous. Were they luring him to his death?

In 2006, Mechele Linehan and John Carlin both pleaded not guilty but were both convicted of murder. Carlin was bludgeoned to death in his cell in October 2008. Mechele appealed.

The verdict

Mechele was found not guilty in 2010. (Photo: PA Photos)

In February 2010, Mechele Linehan’s murder conviction was overturned.

The judge declared that Leppink’s ‘letter from the grave’ framing Mechele and John Carlin should never have appeared as evidence.

He said it corrupted the jury and put guilt in their minds.

Mechele was free to go back to her normal life.

 

By Rachel Tompkins

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. The verdict
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