Man brutally kills wife with splitting maul

On Tuesday, a 63-year-old Alaskan man was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in October 2022. The man, Michael James Kilgo, had been accused of viciously killing his wife, Hattie Labuff-Kilgo, and burning her body in a fire pit. Kilgo had claimed to have acted in self-defense and a heat of passion with a splitting maul, which is a tool with a sledgehammer and axe head, but the jurors did not accept his argument. He was also found guilty of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence due to burning the splitting maul, a blade in the style of a “survival knife,” and a hatchet.

After Labuff-Kilgo was reported missing in August 2018, her body was discovered in Petersville, a remote area near where her truck had been found. Her remains were nearly unrecognizable due to the burning and a medical examiner determined the cause of death was blunt force and sharp force trauma. Prosecutors argued that Kilgo’s intent to murder his wife was clear due to the brutality of using a splitting maul and that he then tried to get rid of all evidence of the body.

The judge, Palmer Superior Court Judge Kari Kristiansen, sentenced Kilgo to 80 years in prison due to his lack of remorse and he will never be released. Labuff-Kilgo was remembered as a loving mother and grandmother, a great friend, and someone who made people feel comfortable and safe.