Neighbors Shocked As Two Found Dead in Clinton Co. Home

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

Seventy-six-year-old Viola Hefton and 75-year-old Thomas Hefton, both of Tucson, Ariz., were found dead in the home of their daughter in Clinton County's Ovid Township early Monday morning.

Investigators say when the daughter returned from a vacation at roughly 1 a.m., she found their bodies in her home, in the 1400 block of N. Watson Road.

Neighbors reached Monday night expressed shock at the apparent double homicide and ensuing police investigation.

For Mike Hartenburg, the quiet of this rural Clinton County crossroads came to an abrupt halt at 2:30 a.m. Monday.

"We heard a police officer knock on our door. Asked if we heard any noises," Hartenburg recalled.

He says he heard a few noises around 10 p.m., thinking it was likely fireworks.

Hartenburg has lived in the neighborhood for a few years. His mother in law, who lives next door, has been in the area all her life.

"It's always been a quiet, firendly neighborhood. You knew everybody in the neighborhood," Julia Hunt said.

Including, Hunt says, the mother and father of a neighbor just down the road.

"We seem them every summer down there. Very nice people," she said.

Then Hunt came home from a out of town trip to find her street blocked off and neighbors telling her that couple she'd seen every summer had been killed.

"This is kind of creepy for me. I never even thought this could happen in my neighborhood. Probably a lot of other people didn't think that," Hunt said.

The news has caused some in this normally sleepy northwest corner of Ovid Township to change old habits.

"My wife just started locking the doors. We never locked the doors," Jason Gillespie said.

That new habit may soon fade, but most neighbors say the incident has left an uneasy feeling that might not go away as quickly.

"I think we'll all be more comfortable when we know who did. And why," Hunt said.

The couple were last seen at the Wal-Mart in nearby St. Johns around 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. Sunday night. They were driving a tan, four-door 2001 Pontiac Sunfire with Arizona plates.

Clinton County Sheriff Wayne Kangas is asking that anyone who saw the car after that time contact the department at (989) 224-5200.

Kangas and Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Charles Sherman told reporters Monday it's been roughly 20 years since a double homicide happened in the county.


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