Last week, police made a startling announcement in their investigation of a fire that killed a father and son in their rural West Virginia mobile home in January. They revealed that David Hutzler, 56, and his 9-year-old son James, known as “Mack,” were each shot in the head before the trailer burned. The scene bore all the signs of a murder-suicide.
Investigators found accelerants used to start the fire scattered around the property in Glengary, W.Va. An autopsy later determined that one bullet had grazed the young boy’s chin before a second bullet took his life –– a detail that left terrifying questions about the young boy’s final moments.
“Due to the findings in the investigation it is believed that David Hutzler fatally shot his son James ‘Mack’ Hutzler and set fire to his residence before taking his own life,” police told local newspapers as they wrapped up their investigation.
A Hatewatch investigation has now confirmed that Hutzler was once a “congressman” in the Republic for the united States of America (RuSA), one of the largest and most organized antigovernment “sovereign citizens” groups active in the United States today. Led by “president” James Timothy Turner of Ozark, Ala., and with representatives in nearly every state, the group says the federal government is illegitimate and it is “reinhabiting” the true government.
Adherents of sovereign citizens ideology hold bizarre, complex antigovernment beliefs. Sovereigns think they –– not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials –– get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes. Hutzler, it seems, was a true believer.
He littered the Internet with tirades that made ludicrous claims and wrote that the Constitution needed a “reset.” Laws didn’t matter anymore, he mused, not when the federal government had become tyrannical.
On Jan. 3 –– three days before he died –– he posted a rant on the popular antigovernment forum “Weekly Geo-Political News and Analysis.” He warned that the federal government was systematically dismantling U.S. currency. It wouldn’t be long before enlightened “Patriots” like him had little option but insurrection.
“The moment the first [person] is picked up, taken into custody or ‘disappeared’ by any law enforcement organization or military department (including special ops) … it’s gonna be ‘game on’ for a lot of folks,” he warned.
It wasn’t RuSA driving those fears –– not directly. At the time of his death, Hutzler had broken away from Turner to form a new sovereign group named the “Vandalia Solution” that was focused on bringing common law courts and citizen grand juries –– typical sovereign methods –– to West Virginia. “I David Hutzler divorce myself from the organization known as the Republic – RuSA – or Tim Turner and cabinet. I now belong to the Vandalia Solution. A Republic for our times,” he wrote on June 5.
It might have been a different group, but Hutzler took much of the RuSA model with him.
In essays, Hutzler made logic-leaping assumptions about the Constitution. “Too many amendments,” he wrote. Elsewhere he proclaimed that the Federal Reserve was systematically pushing everyday Americans into poverty. “Until evil has to match evil I shall continue to rain light on the dark,” he wrote. He also was a tireless proponent of what is known as the “Iraqi dinar scam” –– based on a belief dating to the beginning of the Iraq war that buying devalued Iraqi currency will yield untold riches when the country’s economy returns.
While there is no indication that his death or his son’s had anything to do with Hutzler’s increasingly extreme beliefs, some who say they knew him have posted comments on a news website suggesting that investigators are involved in a cover-up to protect the real murderers – presumably the government.
It’s probably better to ask if the same delusions that led Hutzler’s life down the path of government conspiracies and radical solutions had something to do with how it ended.
In some of his last online postings, he seemed paranoid – certain that the federal government was after him. Among his final words were these: “I think I’ve said quite enough to put my life in danger today.”
Sadly, in all probability, the only danger he really faced were the federal bogeymen all in his head.