Michael Hunn, an Indiana father, is accused of shooting his two teenage children – Harrison and Shelby – to death in their beds before taking his own life in a horrific murder-suicide that unfolded in Zionsville, Indiana.
In a press conference, Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen described the traumatic nature of the tragedy. “It’s extremely hard,” he said. “…It’s hard on the community, and it’s hard on the public safety personnel.”
He said the children attended Zionsville Middle School and High School, and school officials had been integrally involved in the tragedy’s aftermath. “We now have to dig into all of the reasons why this occurred, so it’s going to take us a while to do this. We have to look at the family background, the divorce issues…” between Michael Hunn and his ex-wife, said the sheriff.
Their mother, Stephanie Reece, is the high school’s tennis coach and previously played on the professional circuit, including at Wimbledon. Michael Hunn had worked for a company that explored unique ways to tell stories, including with video.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Children’s Mother Called Police When Harrison & Shelby Didn’t Show Up for School
The press release from the Sheriff’s Department paints a picture of a gut-wrenching scene as the children’s mother, Stephanie Reece, attempted frantically to reach them when they didn’t show up for school.
In a September 21, 2018 statement, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office revealed that authorities received a call around 10:36 a.m. from “a concerned mother, stating that she did not have any contact with her two children since late last night. Both children were staying at their father’s home on County Road 900 East, in Boone County, and did not report to school today.”
The Zionsville Schools had contacted the mother at 9:35 a.m. that day, and “she immediately attempted to contact the children and their father. After numerous unsuccessful attempts via cell phone, she drove to the father’s home to make contact in person. When no one answered the door, she called 911 to have deputies conduct a welfare check.”
Deputies arrived shortly after the 911 call and “exhausted all options of contacting the father and children.”
2. The Deputies Found the Hunn Family Deceased From Gunshot Wounds
Inside the house, authorities discovered a nightmarish scene.
Deputies entered the home and “found Michael Hunn, a 50 year old male, deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. They also located the 15 year old son, Harrison Hunn, and the 13 year old daughter, Shelby Hunn. Both were deceased from apparent gunshot wounds, in their respective bedrooms. Deputies secured the scene and called for additional assistance.”
A Sheriff’s news release revealed the deaths are being investigated as a “double murder/suicide. At this time, we believe this is an isolated incident and there is no threat to the public.”
The Sheriff’s Department added, “We all have faced yet another tragic event here in Boone County. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of the family, the community, Zionsville Schools,a nnd the public safety personnel that responded.”
A 2014 University of Indiana newsletter described Michael Hunn as an alum and provided a short bio.
It described Michael Hunn, then 46, as the “General Manager of Midwest Studios, a niche company
based in Indianapolis that specializes unique storytelling mediums, including interactive exhibits, digital visualization, physical models, and full-scale video production. Michael’s professional career has taken many different turns and provided opportunities to work and live in Chicago, New York City and the Hamptons.”
Prior to joining Midwest Studios, Michael “earned a Bachelor of Arts degree Majoring in Geography from Indiana University Bloomington Campus. After graduation the Indianapolis native worked for prominent Bloomington and Indianapolis real estate developers and development companies.”
The bio continues, “Michael was then recruited to American Express to sell their card processing services in Chicago and Indiana and then promoted to American Expresses world headquarters in New York City. Michael, his wife Stephanie, and their newborn son Harrison moved to the Hamptons to buy and run
several different businesses. After the birth of their daughter Shelby, Michael and Stephanie returned to Zionsville to raise their kids and enjoy Indiana’s quality of life.”
The bio concluded, “Michael’s travels have taken him to Africa, Europe, Central America, South America and the Galapagos Islands,” quoting him as saying, “My time and experience at IU has given me the foundation to tackle and be successful in anything I pursue.”
3. The Parents Divorced the Previous Year & Had an Upcoming Hearing After Child Support & Alcohol Issues
Sheriff’s officials said the Hunns had divorced in November of 2017 and shared custody of the children. “This week was a regularly scheduled visitation for Harrison and Shelby to stay with Michael,” authorities wrote.
“We have not discovered a motive at this time.”
Michael Hunn had a Facebook page, but it contained only a profile picture. He had only 30 friends on Facebook. The Hunns had a divorce hearing scheduled for the upcoming week. A profile story on Stephanie Reece in Indiana Tennis Magazine said that she met Michael Hunn in high school and reconnected with him at a friend’s wedding.
Fox59 reported that Stephanie Reece sought a protection order against her husband in 2014, and “there was a petition filed for contempt last month and a court date was scheduled for next week.” However, the television station reported that the divorce was not considered particularly contentious.
Here are the most recent entries in the couple’s divorce case, according to Boone County court records:
The Indianapolis Star reported that the Hunns were married 17 years and were in court over his alcohol issues, with Reece requesting that Michael Hunn receive reduced time with the children and possibly be “monitored with a blood alcohol level monitoring device.” A court petition alleges that Shelby and Harrison told their grandmother that their father “had been drinking and wasn’t able to care for them or drive them to events. As a result, the children had to be removed from the home,” The Star reports.
The case had reached mediation last spring, though, and Michael Hunn agreed to use a breathalyzer system and pay weekly child support, the newspaper reported, adding that the upcoming hearing was over Reece’s allegations that Hunn wasn’t paying his child support payments along with other bills.
4. The Children’s Mother, a Tennis Coach Who Played Professionally, Filled Her Facebook Page With Pictures of Them
On Facebook, Stephanie Reece’s profile and cover pictures show her with the children on a beach. Other photos on her page show the children when they were younger.
Shannon Watts, an activist with an anti gun violence organization, wrote on Twitter, “This happened in Zionsville, Indiana – the community where I raised my kids. Harrison and Shelby Hunn were star athletes; their mother is a renowned high school tennis coach. All of this devastation to families and communities in America because of angry, armed men.”
Michael Hunn’s only court history in Boone County was minor traffic infractions.
Pearson Automotive Tennis Club has a biography of Reece on its website.
“Stephanie returned to Indianapolis in 2009 after nine years of teaching tennis at the East Hampton Indoor Tennis Club in New York. Stephanie was coached by PA Nilhagen, and was a five-time All-American at Indiana University, where she was inducted into the university’s athletic hall of fame in 2002,” it reads.
“At North Central she was a member of three IHSAA state team champions, a two-time singles state champion and an IHSAA Mental attitude award winner before being inducted into the Indiana High School Hall of Fame in 2007. Stephanie competed on the professional tour from 1992-1996, with a doubles career high world ranking of 79 and singles career high world ranking of 219. She played Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, French Open and Australian Open. She is currently the Zionsville Community High School girls tennis coach. She has two outstanding children, Harrison and Shelby.”
5. Friends Offered Tributes to the Slain Children, Who Excelled at Tennis
Friends filled social media with tributes to the slain children. “Two amazing people got to meet Jesus today. Life is so precious. Nothing but love and prayers for the Hunn family. rip💗” wrote one girl on Twitter. The tragedy has hit the Zionsville community hard.
Both Harrison Hunn and Shelby Hunn were known as good athletes, especially in the area of tennis.
“While I didn’t know the Hunn family personally I know many people who did. This really struck me hard today. You never know what can happen and what life holds. Never take anyone or anything for granted and live life to the fullest because you never know when it can all be taken,” wrote another girl on Twitter.
A girl wrote on Facebook, “Yesterday at Zionsville High School we all received horrible news at the beginning of 7th period. Harrison hunn and Shelby hunn were shot and killed by their own father as they slept. Harrison was someone a lot of us knew and he will be greatly missed along with his sister Shelby. Harrison was 15, the same age as me. Shelby was a year older than my brother… In support we are all encouraged to wear teal/ turquoise on Monday. Rest In Peace Harrison and Shelby. Your memory will always be with us all.”
A friend of Harrison’s wrote, “my love and prayers go out to Harrison Hunn, you were such an inspiration, loving, compassionate human being. Thank you for all the memories we had together. Fly high buddy. God gained another angel.” Another friend wrote, “Lost two beautiful souls. Harrison, thank you for being such an amazing friend ever since kindergarten.. you were one of a kind. You and your sister deserved so much better. Fly high, Shelby & Harrison Hunn ❤️ “
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