DENVER — BJ Bates still remembers the advice his brother-in-law gave him on his wedding day.
“Love your wife and treat her with respect, and the rest will take care of itself,” he said.
It’s those family values that are driving Bates and his cousin, Adam Buehler to get the story of Scott Hapgood, BJ’s brother-in-law out, even though they’re speaking as residents of the Denver area.
Hapgood has been charged with manslaughter in April in the death of Kenny Mitchel, a 27-year old maintenance worker at the Malliouhana resort. Hapgood, a financier in Connecticut, remains free on $75,000 bond.
“At every turn you think, they’re gonna drop this thing,” Buehler said.
It’s been months since Bates’ sister and her husband went to the Caribbean with their two daughters.
“It was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime,” Bates said.
On April 13, minutes after Hapgood’s daughters, then 11 and 13 years old, arrived back in their room, a man dressed in a hotel uniform knocked on their door, the family said in a statement shortly after the incident.
“Neither invited nor expected, 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,” Kelcey Kintner, a spokeswoman for Hapgood, said in an April statement.
Hapgood said the sinks weren’t broken, as far as he knew, but the man could look, his family said.
According to the family, Mitchel was armed and demanded money. A fight broke out and Mitchel bit Hapgood multiple times, including on his face.
Mitchel’s uncle, Victor Mitchel, said in an April interview with CBS News that he was not a violent person. “Kenny was just not a person who’d give anybody problems,” he said.
An autopsy revealed the cause of Mitchel’s death was “prone restraint and positional asphyxia,” Anguilla police spokesman Randy Dick said in a statement. There were also signs of blunt force trauma to the head, torso and abdomen, the report said.
The family says Hapgood did not choke Mitchel; a security guard arrived and restrained Mitchel.
Hapgood was taken to the hospital for medical treatment and was later arrested.
“He did what any one of us would do in this situation: he would protect his family. And that`s exactly what he did and he’s 100 percent innocent,” Bates said.
The story caught President Donald Trump’s attention. He tweeted that he’ll be looking into the case.
“You go to these really nice five star resorts, and you think you`re safe, but the truth is you`re not,” Bates said.