American Tourist Kills Anguilla Hotel Employee (In Self Defense?)

Filed Under: Hotels

Update: Here’s the latest regarding this situation.

There’s a sad story that’s getting quite a bit of media attention regarding someone being killed at Malliouhana, a luxury hotel in Anguilla.

The incident occurred on April 13, 2019, where police were called just after 4PM. A 27 year old hotel maintenance worker, Kenny Mitchel, was found dead in a guest room, and an autopsy revealed that he had been beaten and choked to death.

The person who killed him was the occupant of the room, Gavin Hapgood, a 44 year old financial advisor from Connecticut who was traveling with his family, including his young children (who apparently witnessed all of this).

A spokesperson for Hapgood claimed that this was all in self defense:

“The worker showed up unannounced in uniform at the hotel room, claiming he was there to fix a broken sink before carrying out his sudden, violent attack on the family. He was armed and demanding money.”

“Attacked without warning in his family’s hotel room by a maintenance worker who was armed and demanding money, Scott Hapgood acted in self-defense to protect the lives of his young daughters and himself.

Despite false reports to the contrary, the Hapgoods never called maintenance. Neither invited nor expected, the worker showed up unannounced in uniform at the hotel room.”

Hapgood had to seek medical attention for the wounds he got from the altercation, including multiple cuts from the knife that Mitchel apparently entered the room with.

Mitchel’s brother had the following to say:

“He would never try something that dumb. Even if it was possible he would not. Why would someone try to do something like that? It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t add up. It doesn’t make sense.

He was a very nice person, and people at the hotel would always have good things to say. Everyone knew Kenny, everyone knew what type of person he was.”

Initially Hapgood was denied bail, but he was later released on a $74,000 bond following an appeal and returned to the US, though plans to return to Anguilla to clear his name.

This has caused outrage among many Anguillans, and has increased racial tensions on the small island that is known for attracting wealthy tourists.

I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I’ve just seen too many crime shows, but this seems like one of those situations where there may be more to the story.

Anguilla is a small island with just 15,000 residents, and crime is very low, especially against tourists. It’s known for being one of the safest islands in the Caribbean.

There are certain types of hotel deaths one can make sense of — an argument between people traveling together that escalates, an outside person coming in and robbing a room and it going wrong, a drug deal gone bad, etc.

But this situation sounds unusual on both ends:

  • It’s hard to believe that a hotel maintenance worker would try to carry out an attack on a hotel guest, since it seems like a near sure bet that they’ll get caught
  • At the same time, what motive could the hotel guest possibly have for killing a hotel worker in his room, as it’s also a sure bet the death would be tied to him

None of that is to say that any of the above points aren’t a possibility, but rather just that these seem like very unusual circumstances.

My thoughts are with Mitchel’s family (he was a husband and a father), and also with Hapgood’s daughters, who allegedly witnessed all of this. I’ll be keeping an eye on this story for updates. Hopefully they’re able to figure out exactly what happened and serve justice, whatever that looks like.

  1. When people are on drugs, trying to rationally understand an irrational act is an exercise in impossibility.

  2. As I’m traveling to Anguilla in May, I’ve been following this story. IMO you should change your title. Murder is a strong word to use since he has been charged with manslaughter. Murder implies intent, manslaughter and only suggests he caused the death.

  3. I was flying back from Argentina, my phone was on before takeoff when I received information about someone close to my family was missing. 8 hours later after stewing over it and no-wifi to check the situation, I landed to no new info. The next few days unraveled to an unnerving crime that was committed by someone I grew up with. This at no time made sense, nor does the explanation to this day. Not understanding a crime is how it goes. Just because we don’t get the motivation doesn’t mean it isn’t the truth, it also doesn’t mean he’s telling the truth. None of us expect crime like this, so good or bad either person could be at fault here and the evidence must bear it out.

  4. ‘Murder’ is generally used to indicate a criminal act/bad intent. If self defense is just as likely the headline should say Tourist ‘kills’…

  5. Some claimed he called maintenance while Hapgood’s spokesperson said he never did. It just seems odd that a maintenance person would show up with a knife. I would not be surprised if the Mitchel went into the wrong room to fix a sink while the Hapgood is strung high on something and thought maintenance guy was trying to rob him. I guess only time will tell exactly what happened. My money is on Mitchel is at the wrong place at the wrong time….if he was going to rob Hapgood, he would basically need to finish all three of them off and hope no camera catching him going into the room.

  6. As others have mentioned, you should change the title and body of the story. The word murder implies criminality. Not all killings are murders. If the man in fact killed the hotel employee in self defense, it would not be murder, or even a crime.

  7. I arrived on Anguilla two days after this incident. Though I thank you for recognizing Anguilla as one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, I disagree that this incident has heightened racial tensions. Anguillans are among the most beautiful, loving people I’ve met in any country. I have many Anguillans as friends, and the week we were there we were always greeted with warmth and friendship, as in prior visits. As they say, One Love. Unfortunately solitary events involving tourists and locals due great damage to the tourist trade and that will be a sad fallout.

  8. @ FlySouth — Sorry if it came across differently, I wasn’t suggesting that everyone in Anguilla is up in arms. However, if you look at Twitter you’ll see a lot of angry people from Anguilla there, pointing out how “the white man” is walking free.

  9. I love how people are betting on one situation or the other, despite barely knowing any facts and not knowing any of the people involved. People love to speculate…

    Bottom line is we don’t know anything, who was on what, motives, or anything. It’s just an awful situation. Maybe Hapgood is telling the truth, maybe he isn’t. That’s what police and detectives are for. I think hest case is that he is telling the truth and it was self defense, he gets cleared and somehow his daughters can move on.

  10. A complete investigation will ensue. Hotel maintenance would have been directed to go to the room if the occupants requested an issue to be fixed. That will be easy to determine. They will also look to see if this guest has previous stayed at that hotel or travel to that island and had contact with that maintenance person. The maintenance guy is purported to have been carrying a knife. if so, why? There have been comments about the maintenance person being on drugs. The autopsy will indicate if that may have played a role. Given the basic facts that it happened in the guys room with his family there lends credence that it was likely self-defense. But again, till investigation is complete it’s just speculation.

  11. Wow. We enjoyed our first trip to Anguilla so much this year that we’ve already booked our flights for next year. We plan on staying at the Malliouhana after trying the Belmond this year. This story is just so perplexing, I don’t know what to make of it.

  12. Best guess:

    Maintenance man enters wrong room unannounced because he expects it to be empty.

    He has some type of tool in his hand for the maintenance he was going to perform.

    Occupants of the room is alarmed and feels his family is in danger.

    Situation escalated with nobody able to diffuse (this could be due to language barrier, alcohol, drugs, temper).

    Tragedy results.

    This is my best guess with the facts you lay out.

  13. @Daniel, you should pass this version of events to the authorities in Anguilla. It could prove useful to the investigation.

  14. > Innocent until proven guilty.


    (Seriously, I can’t believe OP doesn’t trust the American’s story)

    On the fun facts: highest criminality in the world occurs in warm weather countries. Whereas the lowest, is observed on nordic / cold climate countries. So logically, I don’t see how the Anguillean couldn’t snap just because the average of his country was low.

  15. I can’t imagine what those poor children went through. And the thought that maintenance workers may be armed, freaks me out. Can one really expect a fair investigation from the police when the tourism economy is at stake? No matter how this turns out, their tourism industry will take a major hit.

  16. @joe, yeah I have. I run a true crime YouTube channel and have been known to crack tough cases. Some people call me an expert, but those are their words not mine.

  17. Next will come the announcement that he won’t be going back for the court case, on the grounds that a fair trial wouldn’t be possible ( assuming there is to be a trial, based on his release on bond).

  18. I really don’t know what to make of this. It doesn’t make sense to me that a uniformed hotel worker would try to rob a guest in a small, self-contained luxury hotel in a small island where everyone knows everyone else. It also doesn’t make sense to me that a hotel guest would just attack a maintenance worker in his hotel room while his young family was present. The third alternative is that some sort of a misunderstanding escalated out of control, but I can’t imagine how that could be either. By what few accounts I could read, both the guest and hotel worker were well liked and regarded by their peers and had good reputations.

  19. @Donna

    A knife is probably part of most maintenance/construction workers standard tool kit. Not talking about a big bowie knife here, but a small knife for opening boxes, cutting duct tape, etc ,etc.

    As for why the worker entered the room in the first place? Can be case of being out to rob while high and thinking the room was empty and entered without warning, and things went downhill from there.

    As for brother of the stiff, well family members will in general always claim that their guy is pure as the driven snow.

    And hoping that all will be cleared up in court? Good luck, it’s small island and the local police resources are probably limited when it comes to things like forensics and autopsies without outside help. Just like it will be in most small towns every where.

  20. @David

    Russia and Singapore are anomalies to the rule, compare their neighboring countries and Tomas are in general right.

    Of course there are thing like history that plays a role. Russia is still suffering under all the damage that the communism inflicted on the country/the mindset of the Russian people.

    Singapore is an example of what a Chinese ethnic run country is capable in form of law and order when not burdened by the legacies of communism, aka mainland China.

    The Chinese have always been very good at running cities and empires, the Russians not so much and communism did not help one bit.

  21. Here’s another arm chair detective theory –

    Could it be that the maintenance worker entered unannounced into the room and saw something he wasn’t supposed to. And the guest had no choice but to kill him?

  22. @No Name – I’ve dealt with a lot of maintenance and construction workers and I’ve only seen box cutters, not knives. I’m sure they could kill you with a hammer but a knife just seems more threatening.

    If I were the defendant, even if innocent, I would not go back there.

  23. I personally knew Gavin when younger and found him to be both a calm and mature athlete in lacrosse and football while at Darien high school and at Dartmouth. This is unthinkable and I feel terrible for his daughters and for Mitchel’s family, but I have no doubt Gavin’s name will be cleared when the full story comes out.

  24. I’m really skeptical the hotel guest plotted this. Can you imagine how this would go down: “Hey honey, I have a great idea. Let’s call the front desk that our sink is broken. Then while you and the kids are in the room, I’ll murder him when he arrives!”

    If the guy was a murderer, he’d surely come up with a better scheme than that.

  25. This was a crime of passion…the victim was on the ground, face down and the killer choked him to death in front of staff. He intended to kill him. Where was the wife? There is a bigger story here and this killer was not surprised by this maintenance worker.

  26. Hmmm… either drugs were involved and transaction gone bad or the guy is telling the truth.

    Why would a maintenance worker go to a room he was not assigned to go? Why would he go there with a knife? Does the hotel maintain records of other guests complaining over similar petty theft?

    Also, you changed the title but not the link…

    This just not sound like a murder in any sense.

  27. @Gary, so sad though that’s fine with us regulars who want to keep this island gem a secret. Do not judge an island population on one incident. Where would you go otherwise, risk-free? And what other reasons do you have not to go to Anguilla, which came back strong after Irma. Wondering.

  28. @ KJ I’m thinking you hit the nail on the head here. Not only that, the American ‘financial advisor’ is ex forces, stands between 6’3″ and 6’5″ and weighs over 250 lbs. The Hotel worker is a much shorter, slender person. Apparently, the American was beating the crap out of the hotel worker in the bathroom (so I don’t quite believe that the children saw fully what was happening) when other staff arrived, to the point where several people tried to restrain him but just couldn’t. I have a feeling we’ll never know the whole truth of this story. The fact that he was allowed to return to the USA is very disheartening. I doubt he’ll ever return for any court case.

  29. It does not make sense. He was traveling with his family, INCLUDING his young children…..
    Did police ever question his wife what happened? Police already heard his side of story. What about his wife? Was she inside the room? Probably was inside the room and can help her husband…

  30. Ok,

    I carry a box cutter, and could have went to the wrong room, happens.

    Tenant gets aggressive, I get defensive, appears tenant very good fighter, me just tired old worker..

    Other side of story,,

  31. The theories and headlines are disgusting. This was a family on vacation and during the mid afternoon they are in their hotel room when someone enters with a knife and threatens them. Guest defends himself and his two minor daughters period! Not like a guest sees a knife in a tool box and go nuts. Come on!! This wasn’t a guy out late at night and a misunderstanding occurs.
    Bottom line.. extremely sad situation for all. Everyone should stop speculating and let the investigation play out.

  32. Robert Schrader, you are a despicable human being. Right now I am imagining it was you that got the short end of the altercation.

    Randy Bennett

  33. Could it also be that the husband walked in unannounced and saw something he wasn’t supposed to see, and went into a rage and killed the hotel worker?

  34. @b thanks I did read the story and perhaps wasn’t clear in my point. How could anyone try to hang the knife charge on the US family who had arrived via plane (i.e., screened for knives). Doesn’t make sense. I agree with your point.

  35. If I were him I wouldn’t return to the country for trial. It seems like they just want to convict him because he is a rich tourist and he has zero chance at a fair trial. The fact that they were soo quick to arrest without a real investigation indicates that it was going to be a show trial. The guy is going to murder a maintenance worker in front of his children for the hell of it? That makes no sense whatsoever. The maintenance worker attempting to rob a rich tourist seems more probable.

  36. @No Name More anomalies for your list: Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Brunei, Maldives, Indonesia – all with murder rates significantly lower than Russia

  37. This screams out bi-sex/gay dad spurning bi-sex/gay maintenance worker and being terrified family would find out leaving only one choice….
    Yep, I’m a retired CSI who has been there and seen it all.

  38. There is definitely more to this story. There are reports that security was called and came to the room before Mr Mitchell was killed. The reports say Mr Hapgood was on top of Mr Mitchell and would not release him though security and employees pleaded with him. He then killed Mr Mitchell in front of a security person and employee. Word is employees are afraid to talk about this. I have seen other articles that confirm this version. Regardless of whether this version is true or not Mr Hapgood was nearly twice the size of Mr Mitchell and essentially killed him with his bare hands(prone restraint, asphyxiation, blunt force trauma to head, neck and torso). Those are facts.

    I had no problem with the original title of this article because he clearly had control of the situation and Mr Mitchell at some point during the incident. Maybe Mr Mitchell the victim was defending himself from Mr Hapgood and that is how Mr Hapgood received injuries that required medical attention.

    There are also reports that Mr Hapgood and Mr Mitchell were seen together prior to the incident.

    There is definitely more to this story. Aside from the above mentioned. It doesn’t make sense that an employee robs someone while at work and in uniform. No reports of theft previously at hotel or against the employee.

    To the commenter who said there wouldn’t be a fair investigation because tourism was at stake. It seems like the government is doing just the opposite. Looking the other way and not turning over stones to get the truth. That is the reason Mr Hapgood was not even arrested immediately. He was moved to another luxury hotel immediately after. It was the people’s outrage that led to the police arresting him. Definitely a disparity in treatment. And sorry if it makes people uncomfortable that the disparity is likely because of wealth, race and nationality. Who here wouldn’t be upset if someone did an act that resulted in a death or even accidental death and the perpetrator got treated better than we did in our own country? Even our own laws have rules about when we can and cannot inflict deadly force.

    Anguilla is a wonderful place with wonderful people. This is a very sad event.

    It funny watching all the panic from tourists. It’s not like an American tourist ended up dead. Anguillan hotel employees at this point should be the ones afraid. Why is it so easy to turn this around to be an Anguillan problem without having all the facts?

    Why is it so difficult to believe that an American could be at fault. A white American and black victim. Same problem . Same Americans . Different country.

  39. I live on nearby island and know Anguilla well.
    I second that Anguilla is the most peaceful island in Carribiean. Generally most of violent crime in Carribiean is black on black and gang related violence. It is rear for white tourist being a violent crime victim unless this is a drug transaction gone bad or some serious provocation by tourist. Even on my island which is way more dangerous than South Chicago violent crime against white tourists is infrequent.

    Hard to spaculate what went wrong here but Anguilla is an overseas British territory and both governor and the chief of police are from UK. I honestly believe they will get to the bottom of this case. In most small communities in Carribiean nepotism is common. Everybody knows each other and is related in one way or another. That fact plays against visitors seeking justice.

  40. Another American bad habit Guy. Try to destroy the character of the victims or the dead person. Again no reports of robbery at the hotel or against Kenny previously which is the only history relevant to this crime.

    Mr Hapgoods official story is that Kenny was attempting to rob him. If that is true it still is a matter of whether he committed manslaughter and used excessive force

    The relevant questions to me are 1) is it true employees have statements about the two being seen together previously 2) Is it true Mr Hapgood called the desk and asked for Kenny 3) is it true employees and security pleaded with Mr Hapgood to release Kenny after they arrived to the room.

  41. None of it makes sense. Well written article. I would like to know the day Hapgood arrived too. Where was the wife (just curious)? If the family arrived on Saturday, which is most likely, check in at these hotels is usually 3pm. So this happened in the first hour. So to me, it’s likely that they check in and are unpacking. Someone notices a sink or something isn’t working. You call down to the desk and ask for maintenance. A guy comes to room…… But how you get from this logical sequence of events to manslaughter is really confusing…. Drugs – doubtful. Alcohol – sure. You go on vaca, have a drink on a plane, get in at noon and have to go have drinks and lunch while you wait…. but too much alcohol doesn’t mean manslaughter.
    What sparked this is what needs to be figured out. The police should have the kids statements too… Just an awful situation.

  42. I am guessing something similar to Pithy. Check in to your suite on Saturday and find something wrong. Family goes out while they request maintenance to fix it. Then family comes back to discover maintenance doing something in the room that he isn’t supposed to be doing.

  43. Lucky: A former journalist here. Any editor and legal department would change your headline before you published. Your headline “American Tourist Kills Anguilla Hotel Employee” just convicted the American. If the American feels like suing you for libel, they have a good case.

    This is the reason why the word “alleged” is so prevalent in TV news and newspapers. Attribution is super important, my friend.

    Good luck!

  44. Justice for Kenny!! Hapgood CALLED the front desk and specifically asked for Kenny; When the security and staff got tot the room Hapgood instead of releasing kenny he squeezed the life out of the Kenny which wast half his size… Kenny would have never ever gone to the room of a guest and attack the guest.. Kenny was a family man NO ONE spoke ill of him…..ASK the wife what happened….running to the USA will not save you from Justice!!!!!

  45. Been traveling to Anguilla for nine straight years and find this story very hard to believe. Anguillian’s are the most beautiful people I have ever met which is one of the reasons I return every year. The second is the food and the third is safety! I am a mid-age female and would travel there alone. That’s how safe the island is and how amazing the people are. I have many friends there and although I have only stayed at two hotels in the nine years, I can tell you they only hire the best from the island.

    90% of the island relies on tourism as a livelihood and that is a fact. Not sure why anyone on the island would want to tarnish their name and their future of tourism.

    There’s obviously more to this story that perhaps we’ll never know because a man is dead. My Prayer is that honesty prevails!!!

    See you in July Anguilla

  46. I have been following this story for quite some time…and it is sad to see that speculation can always lead to such a negative cognitation on the African American behalf. A person’s character speaks volumes and it also goes a long way. Not every black man is armed and dangerous and seeking to do harm to anyone or just be a menace. They are just out there wanting to make an honest living too to take care of their family. Hence, if the employee background check and drug test were not negative then why assume the worst. In both defense fear can cause various outcomes to occur… would the tension or outcome have been the same if the deceased man in questioning was a caucasian maintenance guy? Second, his daughters and wife knows…they witnessed the incident and know the truth….if the employee was trying to assist or hurt them. Folks need to realize that this situation can be “ANYONE’S” reality. God have a funny way of revealing stuff and he never sleeps. A person’s conscience would never allow them the right sanity if they commit a horrible crime. So again, justice will prevail and the truth will surface. Im just saying!

  47. Wow so many ideas and comments about what happened. The Hapgood children are the only eyewitnesses to the manslaughter/murder indictment and possibly the only way to Crack this case. Granted young witnesses are problematic but perhaps child psychologists and extract informative testimony that could exculpate or condemn the relevant parties in this case.

    Perhaps hotel staff need to carry body cameras from now on so we can know what happens in these cases.

  48. In an age of quick transparency, often times without thoughtfulness, this situation does not add up. Humans do not like looking at the truth. They will go to great lengths to avoid it. This is a “straight”, white businessman having gay sex on vacation. I know too many stories like this. Something went wrong and the “straight”, white businessman could NOT afford to have the black man announcing his business. My roommate in NYC was from Darien. He said the people there were rich and terrible. I tried to say some rich people are nice, but he was NOT having it. He said they were very corrupt and would do anything to make money. Read “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles” by Dominic Dunne. Hapgood will NOT be charged, tried, or convicted. He’s from Darien, CT

  49. Initial reports said that Hapgood specifically called Kenny to his room. Local eyewitness says they were both seen talking to each other earlier by the pool. The “robbery gone wrong” story does not make sense for many reasons. Can only hope that justice will really be done but feel very uncertain that it will be. For those wondering where the wife was, she was apparently filming the whole incident on her white cell phone! Perhaps she should be questioned sooner than later.

  50. There are also unconfirmed reports, since scrubbed, that the incident was instigated by an earlier sexual assault on one of the accused’s young daughters. That would explain the manslaughter charge and fill in a lot of the holes in the story.

  51. If this is true Pete, then he should have complained to Management rather than take matters into his own hands. If he requested this man to come to the room then his intentions were already set to harm him. This is not manslaughter, it’s murder!

  52. No, murder requires intent.

    Speaking only for myself, if my family member is in grave danger (or if my 8-year old daughter or has been victimized), I am absolutely taking matters into my own hands.

    But, again, although only speculation/unconfirmed, it certainly is a plausible explanation. I just hope that he is able to return for a fair trial (which seems more and more unlikely given the publicity) and that the truth comes out and the matter is resolved, one way or the other.

  53. First thought I had was that the worker knew something that “couldn’t get out” whatever that may be. I also saw the girls being victimized in some way other than watching death right in front of them. I don’t know if that means the worker knew the father was molesting the daughters, trying to sell them sexually, or if the worker crossed that line in some way.
    I don’t know of course, but these are just the first thoughts I had

  54. I think the worker say something going down so he had to be eliminated to make sure whatever it is never gets out. This financial advisor is involve in some shady stuff. Robbery as a motive doesn’t add it. Let the investigation real the out come. There are no winners or losers in this mess, it is just sad for both parties involved. There are and effective way to diffuse most situations: it is call Time Out and Communication.

  55. I have lived in the Caribbean for years and sailed to many of the islands there, the only conclusion I can reach nothing is ever normal, rational, predictable, believable or expected. Don’t stop the Carnival !. Anguilla is a peaceful place, where nothing ever happens, nothing. That’s why this is so weird. Now, St. Thomas, that would be a different thing all together, anything goes, anything.

  56. Anyone get a toxicology report on anyone except the dead victim?
    Anyone get background investigation on anyone except the dead victim?
    Bias much?

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