meeting at McDonald’s, until parting minutes before his fatal
beating, John Hartman spent his final waking hours hanging out with
a friend of eight years. Pieces of that day are covered elsewhere in
this site, particularly in The Trials and Wild
Night. Here is the full story, with added details.
Hartman met Chris Stone at this
McDonald's the morning before his murder
West Valley High School’s 40-minute midday break beginning around 10:40 a.m.,
Hartman and his girlfriend, Sheva Corning, met for lunch. They had
been together for only three weeks but met for lunch regularly. Chris
Stone said in court that he had done some crystal meth before meeting
them at McDonald’s, a hangout across the street from the school.
According to Stone, Hartman was wearing blue corduroy pants at the
time that belonged to Stone.
to me about them, and I laughed,” Stone said in court. "And
I joked around: ‘Dude, like you’re going to give me those
back, right, and you know, you better.’ ”
Valley High School after a remodel in 2001
He and Hartman
were not in school
that day. Stone was enrolled at West Valley and skipping, but Hartman
was still trying to finish junior high. When Corning left McDonald's
to go back to class, the two boys began their journey through the day.
After going to the public library, a hangout across the street from another
Fairbanks high school, Hartman and Stone went to a pull-tab parlor called Lucky
Aces around 2 p.m. (pull tabs are like scratch-off tickets and one of few legal
forms of gambling in Alaska). Hartman’s mother Evalyn Thomas worked there.
“I was busy,” she told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in 1997, “I
had like eight or nine customers.” She gave her son $5 or $10 for food,
and he told her he would probably be spending the night at a friend’s.
She remembers seeing Hartman wearing a camouflage jacket and camouflage pants,
not Stone’s blue corduroy pants.
At the Bentley Mall, Stone
said he and Hartman talked to other kids. They ate at McDonald’s again
and bought some snacks at about 4 p.m. before heading back toward West Valley
to Noah’s Rainbow Inn, where their 17-year-old friend E.J. Stevens was
babysitting a toddler and a 5-year-old.
Getting a ride with 15-year-old Jessica Wyman, they arrived at the inn around
5 p.m. Stone said that Michael Mulcahy, the father of the two kids, was there
and knew that they would be helping E.J. While there, the boys found a bottle
of Wellbutrin, a prescription antidepressant, and took a few of the pills around
8 p.m. Stone testified that he took between eight and 10 pills, and that Hartman
took less. About 15 minutes later, friends Trent Mueller and Eric Wright showed
up with a box of wine.
Noah's Rainbow Inn, the College Inn is across the street from
West Valley High School and about one block from McDonald's
and Eric went to the room,” Mueller told the police the next
day. “And as soon as we got in there, and we saw John, and he
was sitting in a chair no more than 15 to 20 seconds after we got in
there, he hit the ground and started going into convulsions.” Stone
admitted on the stand that he, Stevens and Hartman had stolen some
anti-depressant pills, Welbutrin, from the room and taken a few.
Welbutin was blamed for the seizure.
In a 2003 interview with UAF journalism student Gary Moore, E.J. Stevens said, “I
remember John getting sick, but what I remember is that at that time he was
wearing a camo shirt and camo pants.” Stevens said Hartman was not wearing
the blue corduroy pants that he (Stevens) claimed to have bought for Stone
earlier that week.
this reporter in 2004 that he had asked Hartman some questions, and
Stone was answering them. Mueller told Stone, “Shut the f---
up!” Mueller and Wright tried to calm Hartman down after the
seizure, and they took him outside for a cigarette.
forensic test did not detect LSD in Hartman's lung tissue.
However, examiners failed to find any Wellbutrin either,
and test comments read, “Specimens must be kept frozen
to preserve the stability of this analyte. This specimen
what kind of drugs he’d done,” Mueller told the police. “And
he [Hartman] said, ‘Oh, I just took one hit of acid [LSD],’ and
I was like, ‘Shut up, man, you had to be doing something more
than just acid to go into convulsions.’ And he just kept on lying
to us and said that he had it from one of his good friends.”
Mueller’s belief that Hartman was lying would seem to be corroborated
by a forensic test that did not detect LSD in his lung tissue. However, examiners
failed to find any Welbutrin either, and test comments read, “Specimens
must be kept frozen to preserve the stability of this analyte. This specimen
was received thawed.”
After returning to the room, Mueller, who had planned to be the drummer in
a band called the Sentinels, with Hartman on the bass, tried to convince his
best friend to come play music with them.
"And John was just sitting there with Chris and E.J. just dazed, just like
he was a robot and they were controlling his body,” Mueller told the police.
"Every time I’d ask him, [Hartman], ‘Hey, man, you wanna’ come
with us,’ he’d like look up, pale faced, and just like, ‘No,
I don’t wanna’ go. I want to sit here,’ And I was like, ‘OK,
well, I can’t force him. So me and Eric took off about 10 and that was
the last time we saw him.”
In 2004 Mueller told this reporter that Stone had his friend Hartman on “a
drug cocktail” or “some mind control drug” and he said that
Hartman had been wearing the camouflage pants when he and Eric Wright left.
Mueller thought those pants belonged to Wright.
Michael Mulcahy arrived home after work. Stone and Hartman were not supposed
to be there, he said. He was not happy and gave the three boys $10 or $15 and
asked them to leave. They left to wait for a cab downstairs.
a driver for King Cab, vaguely remembers Chris Stone, E.J. Stevens
and John Hartman getting in his taxi at Noah’s Rainbow Inn. He
recorded his arrival at 1:12 a.m. and delivered the boys to E.J.’s
house downtown shortly thereafter.
E.J. said he
asked them if they wanted to stay the night.
El Sombrero restaurant, where Stone said he went after
splitting up Hartman
could have stayed at my house, and John, he could have stayed at my
house too, but he said he had a house just down the street,” said
E.J. The two declined the offer and started down the street.
Access Way and Laurene,” said Stone in court, describing where
he and Hartman split up, “ and he went left towards I believe
it’s Gaffney, and I went right towards South Cushman.” Stone
said he was headed to the El Sombrero, a Mexican restaurant where his
mother sometimes tended bar.
corner of 9th and Barnette, where Hartman's beaten body was found
E.J.’s mother, disagreed, saying that Hartman and Stone turned
right together. “That’s what I didn’t understand.
I don’t think John had plans to go home,” she said. “Yeah,
they were going the other way. I just seen ‘em turn towards the
El Som [El Sombrero].”
happened, with Chris,” she told Gary Moore in 2003. “Chris
knows. I know he know -- more.”
No one claimed to see Hartman for the next hour and a half. A passerby noticed
Hartman’s body lying half in the street and called 911 at 2:50 a.m. Paramedics
were at the scene at 2:53 a.m.
supine with leg pants around knees up on sidewalk, upper torso in street,"
reads the prehospital report. "Approximately 20cc blood under
patient’s head. Pupils bilaterally dilated, unreactive
to light. Patient displaying decerbrate posturing.”
the next day at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.
crecent moon over Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where John Hartman