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Beach Apparel Entrepreneur Accused in Teen's Death

Michael Hutto claims to have accidentally shot 18-year-old girlfriend
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2020 11:44 AM CST
Updated Nov 15, 2020 10:00 AM CST

(Newser) – The 54-year-old founder of beach apparel brand Salt Life has been arrested after his 18-year-old girlfriend was found shot to death in a luxury oceanfront hotel room in Florida. According to an affidavit, Michael Troy Hutto claims to have accidentally killed Lora Grace Duncan of Lake City, Fla., in a game gone wrong. Details:

  • Duncan's father hadn't heard from his daughter for 48 hours when he requested the Columbia County Sheriff's Office perform a welfare check on Oct. 26, reports WPTV. Duncan's phone was eventually traced to a Hilton resort on Singer Island, about 300 miles from Columbia County, notes CNN.
  • On Oct. 29, Duncan was found dead in a hotel room that had been rented by Hutto and also contained his wallet and phone, per WJAX. Duncan died of a single gunshot wound to the stomach.

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  • A day earlier, Hutto had been taken to a Jacksonville hospital after St. Johns County deputies found his car illegally parked at a gas station, per People. He was "twitching, making delusional comments and crying while his eyes were rolling into the back of his head," the affidavit reads. WJAX reports he was overdosing.
  • At the hospital, Hutto allegedly told investigators, "I think I hurt my Gracie." He later claimed he shot Duncan by accident, per People. He said the pair—who'd stopped at Singer Island during a trip to visit friends in the Florida Keys—were "playing inside of the hotel room as if they were shooting with their finger and a gun," per the affidavit.
  • Hutto allegedly said he aimed the gun at Duncan and it fired, shooting her as she sat on the bathroom counter. Hutto claimed he put the gun in a backpack and left in a panic, driving until he ran out of gas, per the affidavit.
  • Duncan's father told police that Duncan was romantically involved with Hutto, who lived about 15 miles from Lake City in Wellborn, per First Coast News. Duncan's father also claimed Hutto had been giving his daughter drugs to keep her sedated, noting she'd sounded out of character during their last conversation, per WJAX.
  • Hutto was arrested upon leaving the hospital on Oct. 30 and booked into the Duval County jail, per CNN. He was later transferred to the Palm Beach County jail to face charges of manslaughter and possession of a weapon during a felony.
  • He was ordered not to have any weapons or contact with Duncan’s family during a Monday court appearance, where his bond was set at $255,000, per WPTV.
  • Hutto founded Salt Life with friends in 2003. The name came from a tattoo on Hutto's neck, per CNN. The business was sold to Delta Apparel in 2013. "The co-founders have not been associated with the brand in any way since," the company says. "Salt Life sends their utmost sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased."
(Read more manslaughter stories.)

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