Joey Lynn Hattenbrun Murder: Is Brett Hattenbrun Dead or Alive?

Image Credit: Merritt Funeral Home/Joey's Family

One night in September 2011, Chad Hattenbrun returned home in Hernando County, Florida, only to find his wife, Joey Lynn Hattenbrun, fighting for her life in the driveway. After Joey died, the authorities’ search for the killer led them straight to her father-in-law. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Fatal-in-Law’ delves into a tragic case where marital issues led to her slaying at the hands of a family member. So, let’s find out more about what happened then, shall we?

How Did Joey Lynn Hattenbrun Die?

Joey Lynn was a Florida native born in Key West in February 1981. After high school, she got an associate’s degree from a community college. At the time of the incident, Joey worked as a pharmacy technician at a local pharmacy. She was described as a loving mother to her three-year-old son and a protective sister when it came to her younger sibling. Joey had been married to Chad, and they lived in Hernando County when the tragedy struck.

At around 11:43 PM on September 16, 2011, Joey returned home with their son and heard some grunting on the driveway. Upon using a flashlight, he found Joey on the ground with serious injuries. Chad called 911 right away, and she was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, Joey succumbed to her injuries. The 30-year-old had several fractures in her skull in addition to brain contusion and defensive wounds. Joey was hit repeatedly with a blunt object.

Who Killed Joey Lynn Hattenbrun?

When Chad was questioned, he told the police that they had been having some marital problems lately; Joey talked to someone online but hadn’t met him in person. According to Chad, they wanted to work on their relationship and make things better. He also mentioned telling his father, Brett Hattenbrun, about the issues with Joey. So, the police hoped to talk to him as well, but when they went to Brett’s home with a search warrant on September 27, 2011, things didn’t exactly go over smoothly.

After the authorities arrived, Brett threw a jug filled with gasoline (a Molotov cocktail) in front of them. Then, he used a nail gun to shoot out the door. One of the officers eventually shot Brett in the abdomen, and he was arrested. At the hospital, the authorities questioned him, but he denied having anything to do with the murder. However, a few hours later, he confessed, saying, “I said, ‘Stop screaming,’ and I hit her, and she’s screaming more, and I hit her again. I just basically hit her until she stopped screaming.”

Brett believed Joey was cheating on Chad and felt she wasn’t good enough for his son. So, on September 16, 2011, he went to Joey’s place to confront her regarding the same. After an argument, she threatened to call the police, and when Brett asked her to put the phone away, he claimed she kicked him in the groin. After that, Brett knocked the phone out of his daughter-in-law’s hand, and when she began to scream, he covered her mouth with his hand. Brett struck her several times, then staged a robbery by donning gloves, taking off her wedding ring, and scattering her purse’s belongings.

How Did Brett Hattenbrun Die?

The prosecution also believed that Brett wanted to be killed when he attacked the officers a few days after the murder. On the other hand, the defense claimed that Brett “snapped” and was only hoping for the deputies to kill him; he didn’t want to injure them. He added that the confession was coerced. Nevertheless, in March 2014, the jury found Brett guilty of second-degree murder, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, making or throwing a destructive device, and theft.

In April 2014, Brett was sentenced to life in prison plus an additional 105 years. He said in court that the confession was false, adding, “I did not kill the girl, that’s why I didn’t see any problem giving a bogus confession. I should have taken the stand, but (defense attorney) Alan Fanter thought it was best I didn’t.” Prison records indicate that Brett died on July 30, 2018, at the age of 67, due to natural causes.

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