By Pat Maurer
Blake D. Hullihen of Harrison was arraigned Friday in Osceola County District Court for the double murder December 7 of the mother of his child, Gabriel L. Woodworth, 23, and of her live-in boyfriend Donald C. Feneis, 27. Both victims were from Sears.
Hullihen will be represented by Osceola County attorney Kim Booher.
He faces two counts of open murder and two counts of committing a felony with a firearm and is being held at the Osceola County Jail without bond.
The shooting happened at Chuck’s Corner Citgo convenience store on the corner of M-115 and M-66 in Marion around 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening, December 7, according to a release from Michigan State Police.
MSP Detective Sgt. George Pratt from the Reed City Post, who is the lead in the ongoing investigation, said two children, one 21 months, and another three-year-old were in the victim’s car when the shooting happened.
Pratt said, “We don’t know why it happened, but we do know there was a custody issue between Hullihen and Woodworth over their six-year old daughter. Hullihen had custody of the youngster, but a recent change in Clare County gave custody to the mother.”
According to an opinion and order filed in the Family Division of the 55th Circuit Court, custody was granted to Woodworth two days before the double homicide, because, a referee wrote in October, of dental issues and alleged injuries the previous summer. It was also found that “Woodworth had an advantage over Hullihen in being able to provide food, clothing and medical care for the child.”
According to 7 & 4 News, “Hullihen’s parents said their son snapped after recently losing custody of the six-year old girl. The senior Hullihen said his granddaughter did not want to go back to her mother’s and had said her mother and her live-in boyfriend had treated her ‘poorly’.”
Each parent had accused the other of not being fit to care for the child during the custody battle.
The Cadillac News reported that Hullihen’s father Dan said his son had tried to protect his daughter, exhausting all legal means.
He said Blake had agreed to meet with Woodworth and Feneis at the gas station to discuss “an upcoming change of custody.”
After the shooting, Hullihen went to his father’s home in Harrison and told him he had shot Woodworth and Feneis. Hullihen’s father Dan drove his son Blake to Clare County Sheriff John Wilson’s home, where he surrendered to the Sheriff. Hullihen’s father also turned over the handgun, which he told Wilson was used in the shooting.
A preliminary examination was scheduled December 15 at 9:15 a.m.
If he is convicted, Hullihen could life sentences for the murders and two consecutive years for each felony firearms charge.