I heard the news from a friend days before she was moving back to SUNY Geneseo’s campus after a long winter break, and again from a friend to went to high school with one of the victims and was orchestrating a vigil—Kelsey Annese and her friend Matthew Hutchinson, both successful seniors and athletes at Geneseo University in upstate New York, were found dead in her bedroom in a house just off campus. Early reports found Colin Kingston’s body in her home as well, and many speculated about a break-in or a robbery gone wrong. But we all knew what really happened, even before police made the report.
Annese reportedly broke up with Kingston, her boyfriend of three years, a week before her murder. While her reasons still remain unclear, his response isn’t—in fact, it’s been documented by police. Kingston frequented bars in the Geneseo area for the following week, threatening suicide to patrons and to Annese herself. Multiple members of Kingston’s family have come forward to say that he often made claims to violence, significant warning signs that danger was afoot.
And we all know how this story ends–tragically. On the night of Sunday, January 17th, Kelsey Annese was home in her apartment, in addition to four other girls on her basketball team. She invited Matthew Hutchinson over, because she felt scared by her ex’s threats of violence. And then Colin Kingston broke into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. He used his keys to open the back door. He brought a knife. He crept past the other four girls, sleeping in apartments below and beside Annese’s. He found her and Hutchinson asleep in her bed, unaware and vulnerable. And he did what he thought he had the right to do.
This case isn’t unique. When I looked up “college murder-suicide” to find the story from Geneseo, I found articles discussing the same incidents in Virginia, leaving a five-year old child orphaned; Louisiana, from a “renowned” professor whose prestige means little when he put a bullet in his wife’s head; and another murder in New York from a school official who turned the gun on his wife before killing himself. The only thing that makes this case in Geneseo remarkable is the ages. Kingston was only 24.
Police call this a tragedy. For the community of Geneseo, it’s a time of mourning. I call this another example of society telling us that it is okay to take our anger out on the people who caused it. I call this my fear when my friends refuse to leave harmful relationships in case their partners react with violence, because we are told that this is just another way to heal. Because we are told that this is permissible.
I want to call this the last straw in a bitter learning experience, from the losses of two amazing young people. Kelsey was an education major, and a psychology minor. Hutchinson was a volunteer fire fighter. Why don’t they get to continue helping the world and affecting their communities with positive change?
Because Colin Kingston decided that if he couldn’t have Kelsey Annese, no one could. Not even this world. Further, he took Matthew Hutchinson as collateral damage in his destructive path.Worst of all, he thought this was okay. That he was owed something for his heartbreak, and he left a body count in his wake. While a community mourns, I am nothing but angry and upset that something this close to home is sliding past as permissible. I say no more. I say Kelsey Annese, and every woman who has become a casualty to a man’s scorn, cannot leave us in vain. Let’s do better. And let’s do more.
On behalf of myself and all of my fellow staff members at VocaLady Magazine, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families of Kelsey Annese, Matthew Hutchinson, and Colin Kingston. Despite all the hurt surrounding these losses, we still grieve with you. I am sorry for your losses.
For another feminist understanding of the tragedy at Geneseo, see this article.
Photo credit: Cover