Tutor pleads guilty to role in 2008 rest stop murder

A verdict has finally been delivered in the 2008 “rest stop murder” case, after an earlier jury trial ended in mistrial. 

Dana Tutor, 42, pleaded guilty Tuesday, May 30 before Platte County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Fincham. She was found guilty of first degree robbery and second degree murder. She faces up to 20 years in prison for her crimes and is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 27.

Dana Tutor

Dana Tutor

Charged in 2010 as the accomplice of John Hughes, Tutor lured Valentin G. Kirilchuk into a restroom at the Interstate 29 rest stop between Camden Point and Dearborn in Platte County on a September night in 2008. Hughes then robbed and killed the truck driver.

The robbery and murder were the culmination of a cross-country crime spree by Tutor and Hughes. During the spree, the two talked about getting Bonnie and Clyde tattoos as a tribute to the notorious outlaws, according to a statement from the Platte County Prosecutor’s office.

Hughes pleaded guilty to the crime in 2010 and was sentenced in Ohio to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a different crime. He pleaded guilty to first degree murder, first degree robbery and armed criminal action in Platte County.

Tutor was originally charged with second degree robbery and second degree murder. She was extradited from a Mississippi jail in 2009 for the Platte County murder charge and has been held on $1 million cash-only bond at the detention center since 2010 — the county’s longest-running inmate. Tutor’s two-week jury trial, which had been rescheduled a half-dozen times since 2014, ended in mistrial in April. 

“We are pleased to finally deliver justice for the family of Valentin Kirilchuk,” Platte County prosecuting attorney Eric Zahnd said. “There is no doubt he would be alive today if the defendant had not lured him to his death.”

According to prosecutors, Tutor approached multiple truck drivers at the rest area on Sept. 8, 2008. She tried to convince them to come with her into the rest stop building, where Hughes laid in wait. She pretended that she needed money for diapers and food for a baby. 

Kirilchuk, an immigrant from Ukraine, followed the defendant into the building, possibly with the intention of helping the baby who Tutor said “needed food.” Once Kirilchuk was inside the building, Hughes robbed him and shot him through the head.  

After the robbery and murder, Tutor, who by her own admission was highly intoxicated, drove the getaway car away from the murder scene. A witness in the car described Tutor laughing about the fact that Hughes had killed a man.

Hours later, Hughes was arrested in York, Neb., by a Nebraska State Trooper for a traffic violation and driving under the influence. Inside the vehicle, troopers found the murder weapon, ammunition and property belonging to another murder victim from Ohio.

Tutor’s fingerprints were found on the window of Kirilchuk’s truck. She was also a potential contributor to DNA that was recovered from the passenger side mirror of Kirilchuk’s truck and the murder weapon.  

“This defendant wanted to be like Bonnie and Clyde, and she was,” Zahnd said. “Just like Bonnie and Clyde, she and her boyfriend John Hughes are robbers and murderers.”

The case was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. It was prosecuted by Zahnd and assistant prosecuting attorneys Mark Gibson, Myles Perry and Chris Seufert.