GENESEO, N.Y. - A junior hockey team in Chilliwack, B.C., is remembering a former player who once dressed as Santa Claus for a gift exchange and is now among the victims in a murder-suicide that left three people dead in New York state.
Matthew Hutchinson, 24, was studying geography and business at State University of New York in Geneseo when he and a female student were killed early Sunday morning. Police say a former boyfriend of the woman stabbed the two students to death before apparently killing himself with the same knife.
Hutchinson played defence with the Chilliwack Chiefs in the 2011-12 season and returned for an alumni game the following year, said Barry Douglas, a team spokesman.
"I can recall him dressing up as Santa Claus for the Chiefs players' gift exchange back in 2011. He was just that kind of guy.
"It's hard to believe that something like that could happen to such a great guy. He just made people smile, he made people happy."
Hutchinson also played on the university's hockey team. He planned to one day become a firefighter, Douglas said, adding the North Vancouver native was a leader on and off the ice.
"He was very, very well respected by his teammates and by everybody who came across his path.
"I remember Matt's parents as well. Just great people, great family. I just feel so, so sad for them."
Jeff Szczesniak, a spokesman for the Geneseo Police Department, said Monday that 21-year-old Kelsey Annese was killed along with Hutchinson in a large house near the university where both rented rooms.
He said Colin Kingston, a former student at the same school, called his father early Sunday morning to say he'd gone to the house and killed his ex-girlfriend and would also end his own life.
"There was an altercation that occurred and it was during that altercation that we believe that Miss Annese and Mr. Hutchinson did sustain some fatal stab wounds."
Szczesniak said Kingston was distraught over the recent breakup of a three-year relationship with Annese and had talked about suicide to several people though he had not made any threats.
"We are confident that the perpetrator in this situation was Mr. Kingston and that there were no co-conspirators or anybody else that we're looking for so therefore there would be no charges."
Police are not aware of any relationship between Hutchinson and Annese, who, along with several members of the university basketball team, also rented a room at the house, he said.
He said about half the people in the town of 8,000 people are students.
"There's a lot of close-knit interaction between the SUNY campus and the village," he said, adding Kingston was from a prominent farming family involved in a lot of civic duties.
"Some of the officers responding yesterday knew Mr. Kingston personally."
Denise Battle, president of the university, said counsellors have been provided for Hutchinson and Annese's teammates and for all students and faculty at the university that is about a 35-minute drive from Rochester, N.Y.
"Most of our students are returning to campus following the winter break and it will likely be very difficult for many to face a new semester with this tragedy on their minds," she said.
Men's and women's basketball games scheduled for Tuesday were cancelled, Battle said, adding a remembrance ceremony will be held Wednesday for the two slain students.
Annese wore the number 32 on the basketball court because it is the same number her father wore when he played for Geneseo, according to a bio on the college's website.
Hutchinson had volunteered for more than three years at the Geneseo Fire Department, making a point to take every training opportunity despite his packed schedule as a student athlete, said fire chief Andrew Chanler.
"Matt did everything at the highest level," Chanler said. "He put effort into these things like nobody else."
Chanler said Kingston, the former student, came from a "very nice" local family.
— By Camille Bains in Vancouver, with files from The Associated Press