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The Fenton Independent
Thursday April 04, 1974

Authorities Investigate
Gunshot Death Of Man
On Hartland Road

With Earl Whitt, 39 dead at (Omitted) Hartland road following a shooting Friday, March 29, Livingston county authorities are attempting to determine what happened.

Prosecutor Thomas Kizer, Jr. indicated Tuesday it may be April 12 before facts on which to act are known. Meanwhile Mrs. Janice Justus Whitt, 26, is free pending charges.

Kizer said Whitt, a roofing contractor, died of gunshot wounds in the abdomen. He was dead on the scene when Livingston county sheriff's deputies arrived at approximately 10:30 p.m. after being contacted by Fenton police. The body was taken to McPherson General Hospital, Howell, where an autopsy was performed, to determine cause of death.

Kizer said that Whitt's wife Janice had contacted the Fenton police department and informaed them that her husband had been shot several times during a struggle. Because there are still loose ends to be cleared up, no formal charges were made against Mrs. Whitt, who was released over the weekend pending review and prior to any charges.

Kizer said circumstances surrounding the death had not been determined. Sheriff's deputies, including detectives working on the case, were reluctant to give out any information.

It is known that the gun wounds Whitt had were caused by a .22 gun.

"It appears the killing may be related to a domestic situation," Kizer carefully phrased an explanation. He said an inquest had not been ordered. He said that before a homicide can be termed a murder there was a question of self defense to be considered.

Mrs. Whitt, prior to her marriage, had been involved with the law several times. She has a brother who is back in prison, after having once escaped. Another brother was killed by state troopers in Hartland while robbing a grocery store.

The killing was the second violent death in the Fenton area thus far this year. Charles Matla is awaiting trial on a charge of killing his wife by throwing her down the basement stairs of their home on S. Holly road in January.

Neighbors said the Whitts had been involved in domestic problems several times recently, and refered to beatings and quarrels.

By an amazing coincidence one of the Fenton areas unsolved murder mysteries is said to have occurred on the same farm where Whitt was killed. In 1937 three members of the Davis family were found dead in a barn on the farm--a man, his wife and his sister. The hired man suspected of the killing disappeared and was never found.

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