A Connecticut man charged with the death of an employee at a Caribbean island resort has broken his silence, refuting many of the details in the accusations levied against him.
On April 17, 44-year-old Gavin “Scott” Hapwood was arrested by the Royal Anguilla Police Force (RAPF) and charged with manslaughter after 27-year-old Kenny “Mylez” Mitchell somehow ended up dead on the floor in Hapwood’s hotel room. The official coroner’s report lists Mitchell’s causes of death as prone restraint, positional asphyxia and blunt force trauma to the head, neck and torso.
Eyewitnesses told The Root that a security guard found the much bigger Hapwood on top of Mitchell, where they watched the 6-foot-2-inch 240-pound American choke the 5-foot-8-inch, 150-pound Dominican to death. Witnesses also told The Root that Hapwood’s children were in the room, as well as his wife, Kallie Hapgood, who witnesses say filmed the incident on her cell phone.
In a statement sent to The Root on Thursday morning, Hapwood has offered his side of the story, contradicting the prevailing narrative. The press release, issued by a public relations firm representing the family, alleges that the Hapwoods were the victims of a brutal attack by Mitchell and Scott Hapwood did what he could to protect himself and his family.
“When Scott and our family went on vacation, we never thought he would end up defending himself and our young children against an armed intruder,” the statement begins. “We were excited for our first family vacation abroad in the beautiful and tranquil Caribbean island of Anguilla. But with a single knock at the door, our dream vacation turned into a chilling nightmare—a literal fight to survive.”
Directly contradicting previously reports, Scott insists that he did not choke Mitchell, who worked in maintenance at the Malliouhana Resort. The statement also says that no member of the Hapwood family called for maintenance, an allegation that had been widely reported on social media but could not be confirmed by The Root.
The statement reads, in part:
Neither Scott nor any member of our family knew the attacker before April 13, 2019, when he came to our room, dressed in the hotel’s uniform. The attacker arrived minutes after our minor daughters walked back to the hotel room on their own. The man knocked on the door, saying he was there to fix a broken sink. Scott indicated the sinks were not broken as far as he was aware, but that the man was free to have a look. Like any of us would, he trusted a hotel staff person in uniform.
Neither Scott nor any member of our family had any conversations with the attacker at any time prior to him coming to the hotel room on April 13, 2019.
During the attack, Scott did not choke the attacker. Scott himself sustained severe injuries as a result of the physical struggle which ensued. Scott was literally fighting for his life. He was bitten multiple times by the attacker, including on his face.
The release say that Hapwood cooperated fully with authorities and gave a full account of their side of the tragic event. But in Scott’s version of the event, Kallie Hapwood did not film the incident, although she did take a photo of her husband just before he was transported to the hospital for his injuries.
During The Root’s initial investigation, video of Mitchell’s body being taken out of the room moments after his death does not appear to show similar injuries.
The Hapgood statement wanted the public to know that Scott did not check into the Four Seasons resort the “very first day” after the incident. and that he did not learn of Mitchell’s death until he was at the police station sharing the details with the RAPF.
“Scott spent that evening in the police station,” explains the statement, adding that the rumors that Scott checked into the Four Seasons were true, but it was the Malliouhana resort who paid for his stay, not the Anguillan police force, as many have alleged on social media.
Two days later, Scott was arrested, charged with Mitchell’s death and eventually allowed to pay the equivalent of $74,000 in bail. Hapgood immediately returned to the US, calling the detention “ one of the most grueling events of his life.”
“Scott has spent his entire life doing the right things,” says the statement. “He is married to his college sweetheart, he has worked at the same company for over 20 years, he is a volunteer coach and a loving and devoted father.”
It may be worth noting that everyone who spoke to The Root for our initial story noted that Kenny Mitchell spent his life doing the right things, was married to his sweetheart, worked hard for the company that employed him and was a loving and devoted father, just like Scott Hapwood.
But one of them is dead and the other gets to tell his story.