The Tragic Tale of Lottery Loser Willie Hurt
There is no shortage of stories about lottery winners whose lives take a turn for the worse after winning big. Some tragic winners spend all their money on luxury items or drugs, some are taken advantage of by friends and family, and some are even murdered. However, we haven’t heard of many that were charged with murder. This is the story of lottery winner Willie Hurt and the events that led up to his alleged crime.
WHO IS WILLIE HURT?
Willie Hurt is a man from Lansing, Michigan, who first came to the public’s attention when he won the Michigan Super Lotto draw in June 1989. At the time of the win, Hurt was married with three children, with family and friends referring to him as a family man. However, within just two short years, Hurt was making headlines for a much more sinister reason.
HOW MUCH MONEY DID WILLIE HURT WIN?
Willie Hurt won an incredible $3.1 million in the state Super Lotto draw. He chose to collect his winnings in annual payments. The prize was to be paid out over 20 years, with Hurt receiving $156,000 with each instalment. That is certainly a life-changing amount, and if budgeted and invested properly, more than enough for the average person to live comfortably for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, Willie’s life became anything but comfortable shortly after his win, and he did not have the fairy tale ending we all would hope for if we won the lottery.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER WILLIE HURT WON THE LOTTERY?
Within two years of his win, Hurt was separated from his wife and in the process of a divorce. Even more troubling, Willie had developed an addiction to crack cocaine. By September 1991, Hurt was not only in the throes of addiction, he was also penniless. While those circumstances were certainly bad enough, things got even worse the week of September 19th, 1991.
That week in September, Hurt was at the Burkewood Inn, a hotel he’d been staying at for about three weeks. According to witnesses, Hurt was joined by a 30-year-old woman named Wendy Elizabeth Kimmey for part of his stay. Over two days, the couple engaged in a drug and alcohol binge and caught the attention of other guests at the hotel because of their loud arguing. Their disagreements ended tragically, with Wendy found dead on the floor of Hurt’s hotel room of a gunshot wound to the head.
WILLIE HURT CHARGED WITH MURDER
Willie Hurt turned himself in to the police in Lansing the day the murder took place. According to Ingham County Prosecutor Donald Martin, the altercation that led to Kimmey’s murder started because Hurt was enraged that they didn’t have any more crack cocaine and couldn’t find more. Hurt’s attorney, Malik Hodari, tried to paint Hurt in a more sympathetic light, explaining that he was in the process of a divorce and also dealing with being penniless. At the time of the murder, all of Hurt’s three children were adults, though it’s unclear if he had any sort of relationship with them.
Hurt was arraigned on September 20, 1991, on charges of open murder, a charge that doesn’t distinguish between first- and second-degree murder. In Michigan, an open murder charge means that a jury may decide between first- and second-degree murder based on the evidence presented at trial.
Hodari said that though Hurt made and signed a confession to police regarding the murder, his client had no recollection of doing so. This lapse in memory led Mason District Judge Thomas Brennan Jr. to order a psychiatric evaluation of Hurt before standing trial. Hurt was facing life in prison without parole if he was convicted. Interestingly, Michigan lottery officials said that Hurt would continue receiving his lottery payments even if he was convicted of the crime.
Unfortunately, it is unclear what happened to Willie Hurt, as there has been no reporting on his case since it first caught the attention of journalists in September 1991.
Many lottery players likely dream about everything they would do with their winnings if they ever won the jackpot, and of all the ways they could improve their lives with such a large windfall. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that far too many winners get caught up in a far different lifestyle than they probably imagined. Though Willie Hurt is one of many lottery winners whose stories took a turn for the worse, there is no doubt that it is one of the more tragic tales, particularly for his alleged victim Wendy Elizabeth Kimmey and her loved ones.