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(The following story contains graphic details about a recent homicide investigation.)
TUESDAY, Jan. 7 — A menacing silence surrounds Mark Latunski’s hillside home in the backwoods of Shiawassee County.
Investigators cleared the scene several days ago, leaving behind only a thin, yellow line of police tape around the rural property. The eerie brick abode sits vacant. But the air is still thick with the sinister notions of what county Prosecuting Attorney Deanna Finnegan labeled as the “most horrific” local homicide in recent decades.
“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” Finnegan added. “It’s absolutely the most horrific homicide case I’ve ever dealt with.”
According to his lawyers, Latunski, 50, of Morrice, plans to plead insanity next week in 66th District Court after being charged with open murder and mutiliation of a body in the death of Kevin Bacon, a 25-year-old member of the LGBTQ community, college student and hairstylist from Swartz Creek. The death occurred either Christmas Eve or early Christmas day, according to authorities.
They said they discovered Bacon’s mutilated corpse hanging upside down in the basement of Latunski’s home on the 700-block of W. Tyrrell Road outside the village of Morrice. His throat had been slit. Both of his testicles had been removed. And Latunski told authorities that he had eaten them before investigators arrived.
Bacon had reportedly met Latunski on the popular gay hookup site Grindr on Christmas Eve. But when he didn’t return home for breakfast on Christmas morning, his family called the police to report he was missing.
Michigan State Police troopers eventually spotted Bacon’s car at a Family Dollar in Clayton Township. His phone, wallet and some clothing were found inside. Days later, on Dec. 28, the investigation led authorities inside Latunski’s home, where police said Bacon’s mangled body was suspended by a rope in the basement.
It’s still unclear what exactly led investigators to Latunski. Dave Kaiser, MSP’s public information officer, couldn’t elaborate much as the investigation and criminal proceedings continue. But recently released police reports indicate local authorities were all too familiar with Latunski, his home and his checkered mental health history.
Records show county sheriff’s deputies visited the home of Latunski’s now ex-wife in July 2013 for a welfare check. She then told authorities that she and Latunski — who had recently been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia — were going through a messy divorce and that he hadn’t been taking his prescribed medications.
Deputies had one of their first encounters with Latunski a few months later on Aug. 26, 2013 when they were dispatched to check on the welfare of his children. Police reports alleged that Latunski had been ignoring a custody arrangement for his children and kept hold of them well beyond the time allotted under a court order.
“Well, they will have to find me in contempt then,” Latunski reportedly told deputies at the time.
The following day, the kids were nowhere to be found. Deputies were again dispatched to Latunski’s home but they later discovered he and the children had left town to stay at a hotel and visit a waterpark in Dundee. Police eventually found Latunski, took custody of the children and turned them back over to his ex-wife, records show.
That’s when the police reports start to take a turn toward the stranger side.
On Sept. 3, 2013, Latunski reportedly visited the MSP post in Lansing — giving officers a fake name and a fake birthdate and telling authorities that he had “killed” Latunski “with a stroke of a pen.” Deputies later stopped by his home for a welfare check and discovered cryptic notes scattered across the kitchen, reports state.
Some referenced “being cursed and breaking the cycle,” reports state. Deputies also found references to Latunski’s newfound alias: William Gregory Dean. Eventually, they found Latunski next door at his vacant father’s home, laying on his back and unresponsive. After some prodding by skeptical deputies, he eventually sprang to life.
Latunski told authorities he was a “protected person” and that he wanted to know “the truth,” according to police reports. He had also told authorities that he and his children were being “poisoned” by a bladder tank filled with lead that his brother somehow maliciously attached to the side of his house, according to reports.
Deputies brought Latunski to a hospital for treatment, but by then, Finnegan was ready to nail custodial kidnapping charges for his unauthorized and extended vacation in Dundee with his children in August. He was arrested at Owosso Memorial Healthcare on Sept. 19, 2013, and criminally charged in the weeks that followed.
That criminal case continued for nearly 18 months while Latunski’s lawyers requested multiple psychiatric examinations to find whether he was mentally fit to stand trial. Records show Latunski was twice found incompetent but continued to undergo court-ordered treatment and testing during 2014 and 2015.
In the meantime, police near Grand Rapids spotted Latunski on September 14, 2014, strolling down the street wearing only his right sock, according to reports. He initially ignored authorities before he climbed into the back of a cruiser and was taken to a hospital. "It appears that Latunski has mental problems," reports stated.
The Kentwood Police Department ultimately requested criminal charges for alleged indecent exposure but the prosecuting attorney had declined to pursue them. The fledgling criminal case was closed a few weeks later.
On Sept. 18, Latunski’s boss had called sheriff’s deputies to report that Latunski hadn’t shown up for work in the past four days. Latunski couldn’t be located during that investigation. The call was cleared. And a few months later, in January 2015, a psychiatrist was starting to feel differently about Latunski’s mental health.
A doctor’s note filed into court records states that Latunski had made “adequate progress” in therapy and was able to address the “powerful emotions and distress” from his recent divorce. His sense of “paranoia and anger” had subsided enough for him to function — and to be held liable for the alleged custodial kidnapping incident.
Although the charges could’ve ultimately sent Latunski to prison for up to a year if convicted, prosecutors decided to give up the case by February. Finnegan said the charges were dismissed at the request of Latunski’s ex-wife, who no longer wanted to see her ex-husband face the legal consequences of his alleged criminal activity.
“Things had apparently been going OK,” Finnegan added. “She just wanted him to play by the rules and the case was dismissed at her request.” She said Lutunski was warned the charges would be refiled “if he did anything stupid.”
But Latunski’s encounters with law enforcement didn’t stop there. Records show Latunski had repeatedly failed to pay child support and that by 2019, his ex-wife had sought to cut off his custodial rights to his children altogether. Records also charted Latunski’s worsening mental state — including a rough bout with severe depression.
About a month before Bacon’s disappearance, deputies were again called to Tyrrell Road after a neighbor reported a younger man scrambling away from Latunski’s home wearing only a leather kilt. Kaiser said the man had been chained inside Latunski’s basement but entirely by choice. No criminal charges were filed against anyone.
“We showed up to do our investigation and what we found was that he was there consensually,” Kaiser added. “He had not been assaulted. There was no unwanted behavior and he didn’t want to do a police report. Apparently there had been some type of boundary issues going on there at the time. It didn’t go anywhere.”
The kilt was returned to Latunski. The other man was able to leave the home. The scene was again cleared without incident. And about a month later, authorities were back — this time to find Bacon’s body and to make an arrest. Latunski’s two felony charges carry the potential to sentence him to life in prison, if he’s convicted.
At an arraignment hearing this month, Latunski told a judge his true name was “Edgar Thomas Hill.” Doug Corwin, Shiawassee County’s public defender and one of Latunski’s court-appointed attorneys, pointed to that statement as added evidence of his legal insanity. He plans to argue that as part of a defense as the case proceeds.
“I can tell you that we’ll be filing for a forensic examination,” he said. “We will be filing an insanity defense.”
A massive procession followed Bacon’s body from his funeral to a local cemetery on Friday afternoon. YouTube celebrity Jeffree Star has since donated $20,000 to his funeral expenses. In the meantime, Latunski remains inside the Shiawassee County Jail without bail. He’s due back in the courtroom for a hearing later this week.
Kaiser said authorities have not linked any additional crimes to Latunski, but they are searching for additional information about the night of Bacon’s disappearance or about any prior dealings with Latunski. Those with any information to share can confidentially contact authorities at 877-616-4677, Kaiser added.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect additional details from newly released police reports.