MURDER ON THE MAINE COAST
The man sits quietly in the fading light and salty air of the early autumn evening. Looking out at the hazy Atlantic shoreline below his balcony, he raises a crystal glass of bourbon to his lips and wonders how much longer it will be. He knows all too well that before many more days go by, he will be indicted for the planning and execution of murder. The investigation has been going on for over a year now, and it’s simply a matter of time before he hears that knock on his door—the door of the posh apartment on the Maine coast he shares with the only true love of his life. Leaving her is what he dreads and will regret most. Those early passing doubts and inklings of guilt are nothing more than discarded and forgotten reflections. Even now, he has no discernible misgivings about his victims’ untimely ends—yes, there was more than one bloody corpse produced for the investigators to analyze.
Putting this case aside for a moment, you have to wonder what compels any man to contemplate and commit multiple murders. Surely, if the man is a sociopath or psychopath, that is a probable root cause. But what if the man, by most measures, is an intelligent, normal, and relatively average guy? Oh sure, this man has his quirky eccentric side. His buddies still chide him over the unfortunate and embarrassing nature of his injury incurred while fly fishing naked in the Allagash. But what could drive an eminently likable and widely respected everyman to plan and sequence the violent demise of four other human beings? A lust for money? Not likely. Power? Not a chance. Jealousy? Possibly, but definitely not probably. Revenge?
What about love?
To be perfectly clear, we are not talking about a heat-of-the-moment crime of passion here. How could true love possibly be a precursor to murder one? And not just one slaying, mind you, but a series of diabolically and carefully calculated homicides.
OK, maybe a young man’s passion might overcome his sensibilities and drive him to extremes, but he would not be a normal young man, and this would not be true love.
Could love for a woman and the need to protect her against all the forces of man and nature be a motivator so strong it would cause even a reasonably sane man to commit such horrific acts of violence?
What if this man is sixty-eight years old?
This man, Bill Hurley, is fluent in just about every programming language ever invented or known to man, and was once considered to be the most gifted collegiate computer science student in the United States. Engineering just came naturally to him, in the way most of his peers learned how to throw balls or ride bikes. While he did excel at collegiate sports, including lacrosse and rugby, Bill was introverted and somewhat awkward in social situations. Widely considered to be something of nerd legend at MIT, his brilliant award-winning projects eventually caught the attention of the U.S. government, and he was recruited to do network security consulting for the NSA, CIA, and the State Department. While rumor has it that Bill did some highly covert spook stuff for the government in the 1970s, he neither confirms nor denies that type of activity. It was during that same period that he began his professorship at MIT. One of his documented claims to fame was his ability to hack any government system in under an hour. Working with top systems developers in the government, he created sophisticated programming codes and technologies to thwart international ransomware thieves and domestic hackers. These protocols are still used today to prevent malware and DNS server attacks in both government and private sectors. His unique skills remained in constant demand, and he continued to consult on cybersecurity tactics and strategies for the government and several Fortune 100 companies right up to his sixty-eighth trip around the sun.
Less than a year ago, Bill and his wife, Hillary, shared a magnificent homestead on eighty pastoral acres in Stoney Creek, Maine. The gently sloping lush meadows were always meticulously manicured, and Hillary’s renowned artistic talents were evident in the colorful flowers and shrubs that graced the home’s perimeter, decks, and patios. Deeply forested on three sides, this tranquil and idyllic property was bordered by tall pines, oaks, and maples. The northern side sat along a quiet well-paved county road, and the gently flowing Stoney Creek formed the eastern border just beyond the tree line. The home was a fair-sized post and beam with plenty of big windows and large decks on two sides of the house. Just out of sight for visitors arriving at the Hurley home was a large powerful array of solar panels on the south-facing roof that provided for all the estate’s energy needs. Located on the northeast part of the property was Hillary’s posh art studio with ample space for both creating art and entertaining her wide circle of friends. A classic New England–style barn filled to the brim with Bill’s tools and toys lay just to the east of the main house. Inside, the home was comfy and smartly well appointed with a massive great room, large eat-in kitchen, and just about anything anyone could possibly want or need, but it was not ostentatious or froufrou in any way.
Beyond these and other material comforts, Bill and Hillary have shared a lifetime full of happiness with a multitude of friends, their adoring adult son, Paul, his wife, Joy, and their two beautiful and healthy grandchildren. Their festive Stoney Creek parties were always the most coveted social events of the year, and both Hurleys are deeply loved and respected by everyone they have ever known.
So the question remains, why would a man like this, with so much to lose, risk everything with so many murderous intentions? What could have led him down this malicious path?