Staff carries on after OK publisher, family were killed

Dec 2, 2014

By Stanley Schwartz
Managing Editor | Publishers’ Auxiliary

MARLOW, OK—The staff of the Marlow Review is doing as well as can be expected, said news and sports reporter Todd Brooks a little more than a month after Publisher John Hruby his wife, Tinker, and teenage daughter, Katherine were discovered shot to death in their home.

“We continue to do our jobs to the best of our abilities,” Brooks added. The staff and community were stunned by the news of the Hrubys’ deaths. Brooks, who said he could not comment on the case, noted that he and the staff are acting as though John were on an extended vacation, waiting for the next phase in this sad story to happen.

A week after the bodies were discovered, Brooks wrote that 19-year-old Alan Hruby, the son of John and Tinker, had confessed to the killings and has been charged with first-degree murder.

During a news conference earlier that week, he wrote that Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks had provided a timeline on how the murders occurred: “The details include Alan parking in a neighborhood not far from his parents’ house, where he went in through the back door, where he found his mother and shot her and shot her again after she fell to the ground.

“Katherine, who had been outside washing her car, came into the kitchen, where according to Hicks, Alan shot her once in the head.

“When his father, John, returned to the house later in the evening, Alan shot him, and after John fell to the ground, he shot his father again.

“After completion of the murders, Hicks said Alan took the firearm—a 9mm reported stolen earlier in the day by his father—and the home’s video surveillance camera and took them to an unspecified local lake where he disposed the items in the lake.

“According to Hicks, Alan tried to cover his tracks by returning to Norman to pick up his cellphone, and traveled to Dallas for the Oklahoma-Texas game.

“The motive was financial, according to Hicks.”

Brooks quoted Hicks as saying Alan owed $3,000 to a loan shark company in Norman, OK, and thought he would inherit the family estate after killing his father, mother and sister.

In his column about the Hrubys, Ed Darling with the Duncan (OK) Banner wrote: “The Hrubys were good newspaper people who understood the impact of a highly personal business, whose daily actions influenced and affected people’s lives, who worked tirelessly to personify the news and make it relative, who sought to create and maintain a conduit through which meaningful conversations occurred, who pushed to make good places better and who shared the pride of an area we all lovingly call home.

“They were good citizens.

“They were good people.”

Darling wrote about the Hruby family legacy in Oklahoma: “The Hruby legacy is one of honor and dignity, starting with Harrington Wimberly, working its way through Al Hruby and now closing with John Hruby. It is a legacy that should be remembered with fondness and as one of accomplishment, of caring and of concern.”

He noted that John bought the Marlow Review in 2007, and quickly built the weekly into a strong community newspaper with the help of his wife, Tinker. She, too, occasionally wrote for the paper, Brooks said. And 17-year-old Katherine started delivering the paper right after getting her driver’s license.

Calling the news of the Hrubys’ deaths devastating is an understatement. But that news did bring the community, including the Oklahoma newspaper community, together to help out where they could.

Brooks said almost every day for the first two weeks after the shootings, someone would send over lunch for him and the other staff members. The paper has four full-time staff and one part-time person.

Brooks, who’s been with the paper since 2012, said that when he needed help getting photos at local sporting events that other papers were covering, they would send him the pictures.

“We’re still putting out a quality newspaper;” Brooks said, “something John would be proud of. And we do it out of respect for him.” He and the other staff members talk about the Hrubys, he added, but they don’t let the topic dominate their days. “We can still laugh and joke with one another.”

As to the future of the 1,500-circulation paper, Brooks said he’s not sure. Right now he knows that the publication will be sold, probably next year sometime.