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  • Rod Kackley

Thanksgiving Massacre: A Shocking True Crime Story

This is how the story ends…

It’s just after 9 a.m. on July 15, 2010. A tractor-trailer rig, big and powerful as they come, is racing toward the razor-wire topped, double chain-link fence surrounding the Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Three convicted killers are inside the truck, hurtling toward the fence in a desperate bid for freedom. They commandeered the rig by overpowering the truck’s driver, hopping behind the wheel, ramming through the gears, and putting the pedal to the metal. 

Since they’re all looking at spending the rest of their lives in Michigan’s prison system, what do they have to lose?

Prisoners, hundreds of whom are also doing life without parole for murder, are locked down, while the weapons of the prison’s guards are locked and loaded.

Despite its size and speed, the truck doesn’t get far. 

After about 100 yards, the truck hits the fence and goes no further. The big rig gets wrapped up in the fence and comes to a screeching halt. 

The convicts inside do everything they can to bust the truck out of the fencing, but it’s no use. The trio decides to run for freedom.

Two of them — Brian Davison, convicted of beating a man to death, and Andrew Ross, who killed his parents and older brother — are quickly captured.

But the third, Seth Privacky, is shot in the head and dies almost instantly.

Ironic since Seth admitted to killing four members of his family and his brother’s girlfriend by shooting each of them, one after another, in the head.

Here’s how the story begins...

It’s the last day of Thanksgiving Weekend, November 29, 1998, and Seth Privacky is angry. The 18-year-old’s been arguing with his father. In fact, Stephen Privacky, who teaches fifth grade at Reeths-Puffer Intermediate School, threatens to kick Seth out of the family’s home in Dalton Township, near Muskegon, Michigan.

Seth, who stands 6-foot-4 inches tall, carried a B-average in high school, and his parents, a year ago, described him as a “good kid.” 

He played bass in a rock band.

But he’d seen some trouble. For instance, he’d been using drugs. 

Seth started with alcohol and marijuana when he was 14. Two years later, he was doing LSD and speed. Then he began selling drugs.

One time, he broke the family’s dishwasher by standing on it.

His father says Seth’s problem is he doesn’t have a conscience.

And there was the time Seth got caught shoplifting. 

As part of his court sentence, he wrote that he wanted to get married and travel. Seth also wrote that he wanted to have kids eventually, but not too many “because I know how much trouble I get into and how much of a nuisance I can be sometimes.”

Nuisance. Right. Get ready for that to be ratcheted up to the nth degree.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., the Privacky family is getting ready for a late Thanksgiving dinner. Seth’s mother, Linda, a receptionist at a medical office in Muskegon, is showering. 

Seth’s father, Stephen, is out of the house. He’s picking up his father, Seth’s grandfather, John Privacky, and bringing him home for the celebration.

Seth’s 19-year-old brother, Jedediah, is in the basement watching television, waiting for his girlfriend, April Boss, to arrive.

Seth walks up behind his brother, carrying their father’s loaded 22-Ruger. Seth points the gun at the back of Jedediah’s head and pulls the trigger, killing his brother.

Seth hears his father’s car pulling up into the driveway.

He waits with the Ruger. As John and Stephen Privacky walk from the driveway to the Privacky’s house, Seth opens fire, killing both men.

Seth even shoots John Privacky twice to make sure the 78-year-old is dead.

Linda’s still in the shower. When Seth hears her turn off the water. He waits in the hallway, and as soon as his mom walks out of the bathroom, Seth shoots her dead, too.

That’s it. The family’s gone. But wait. Seth hears the front door opening and then closing.

It’s April Boss, his brother’s girlfriend.

No witnesses, Seth decides, and he shoots her dead, too.

Seth has to figure out what to do with the five corpses.

He calls his best friend Steven Wallace. 

“I’ve done it,” Seth says, “and I need your help.”

With hardly a word, Steven dashes over to the Privacky home.

Seth tells Steven they need to get the bodies out of the house.

They go to work. 

But a problem soon develops. Seth never expected the dead bodies of his father, mother, grandfather, brother, and April Boss to be so damn heavy.

Moving all five is going to be next to impossible, Seth realizes. 

He comes up with a new plan.

Seth decides they need to make it look like his family and April are robbery victims. 

But since all five were shot in the head at near-point-blank range, Seth decides he needs to get some duct tape to make it look like his family was bound, gagged, and then executed.

He heads out to a local grocery store to get the tape. First, though, he picks up spent shell casings off the floor of his home. Then, on his way to the store, Seth tosses the shell casings into a gas station garbage can.

Steven, meanwhile, drives ten miles down the road to a pond and tosses the gun and clip Seth used to kill his family into the water.

After taking care of that bit of crime-hiding business, Steven goes to a Blockbuster Video store. He returns a movie he rented a few days earlier.

And then, and only then, Steven goes to a church youth group meeting.

After a few hours, Seth and Steven return to work at the Privacky abode, now a House of Death. It’s time to move the bodies into position after liberally applying duct tape to the corpses.

Seth decides that if this was a robbery and five people paid for it with their lives, something of value has to disappear. So, he and Steven lug one of the family’s television sets outside and put it in a car to be driven away.

They start working on the bodies inside the house, and one of them goes outside to deal with the body of Seth’s father, still lying dead in the driveway.

Close to midnight, now. Julie Cooper and her husband, Tom, pull into the Privacky’s driveway. They’re looking for Julie’s daughter, April, who failed to show up for her third-shift job.

Julie sees a tall man leaning over what looks like a dead person’s body. Their eyes meet — Julie and the man — and he runs off.

With her heart in her throat, Julie calls 911, telling the dispatcher she believes she’s found a dead body.

She also tells the dispatcher that she’s “really worried because my daughter’s car is here.”

First things first. The dispatcher wants to know why Julie thinks she’s looking at a dead person.

Julie sobs, “because he is filled with blood, he is cold, and he is not moving.”

Then she informs the dispatcher that the police need to look for a tall man wearing a plaid shirt and light-colored pants. Julie also says the man dropped a flashlight when he dashed away.

Julie and Tom go into the Privacky’s house. They turn on the lights, and oh my god…

“There’s a trail of blood through the house and garage,” Julie says, sobbing loudly now.

“Okay, Julie, you’re doing really good,” the dispatcher says. “You’re being very helpful.”

Police are already on the way, with more flashing lights and sirens than this rural western Michigan community has seen in years.

When they arrive, Muskegon County sheriff’s deputies find bodies scattered about the Privacky’s split-level Dalton Township home. Blood is splashed and sprayed everywhere, resulting in what county prosecutor Tony Tague says is “the most serious and vicious attack on a household I have ever witnessed.”

Did any of the dead ever have a chance? 


There are no signs that any of the dead struggled or fought to live. Tague says each of the killings resulted from a “brutal’ execution-style death.”

Tague says the “shooting occurred with a definite plan of shooting all five.”

Deputies catch up with Steven quickly. 

However, his capture is not the result of efficient police work. Steven walks out of the woods, saying he has a story to tell them.

And Steven proceeds to tell the deputies what Seth has done.

That triggers a manhunt like Muskegon County has never seen before.

Seth stays on the run for 13 hours, finally arrested inside a pole barn after getting a ride from an 18-year-old woman who’s scared as hell when she calls 911 to tell them where to find Seth.

At first, he tries to tell the cops that his older brother, Jedediah, had murdered the family. Seth claimed it was some kind of a murder-suicide pact. 

But eventually, he caves in and confesses. Seth cries as he finishes making his statement. 

Yet, Seth also complains that his father never had a good thing to say about him, and finally, his brother and mother had turned against him too.

He went ballistic and started killing his family, Seth says, “because my father told me he didn’t love me anymore and that he wanted me to move out. My mom and brother didn’t say anything.”

Even though he showed some emotion during those moments, Dennis Edwards, a detective captain, says for most of the time, it was like “nobody’s home.”

During his arraignment on five counts of open murder, Seth asks Judge Michael J. Nolan for a favor. 

He’d like the judge to reduce his bond because “I would just like a chance to get out and see the world before I go away for a long time.”

The judge doesn’t give him a break, and Seth is eventually sentenced to five counts of life without parole for the murders.

Steven is charged with being an accessory after the fact, helping Seth after the murders were committed. But he was acquitted by a jury in 1999 after Steven testified that he only helped Seth because he feared for his life.

However, Steven was sentenced to jail time — 28 months to 7 and 1/2 years for probation violations. At the time of the killings, he was on probation for receiving stolen property.

Does he have any regrets?

Sure, Steven tells a reporter ten years later, “I wished I’d asked him, ‘why?’ Why did you do it? Why did you kill your family?”


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