Despite being under investigation for child abuse two years prior, local police and prosecutors decided not to file charges against a Utah man who, according to police, fatally shot his wife, her mother, and their five children before shooting himself, according to new records made available Tuesday.
The Associated Press was able to put light on warning flags and a previous police inquiry into a violent pattern of behavior Michael Haight displayed toward his family according to police records they were able to get.
Following the killings on January 4 in the small town of Enoch, authorities held a press conference but declined to provide further details, citing an ongoing investigation.
The family’s eldest daughter, Macie Haight, described several attacks in a 2020 interview with police, including one in which her father choked her and she was “extremely terrified that he was going to keep her from breathing and kill her.”
A non-family member called the police on August 27, 2020, citing possible child abuse, prompting the child abuse inquiry. When Macie was 14 years old, she informed police that her father had began hitting her and shaking her since 2017. She also described a recent event in which he grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her against a wooden piece running the length of the couch.
Police discovered Macie’s body together with eight other bodies at the family’s residence two years later. The murder-suicide shook the community of Enoch, a village of 8,000 people in southern Utah on the outskirts of Cedar City, where local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members and neighbors remembered the Haights as a lovely family.
Michael Haight was praised as an Eagle Scout, businessman, and parent who “made it a point to spend meaningful time with each and every one of his children” in his obituary that was published in the St. George Spectrum last week. The obituary was removed off the internet after protest and omitted any reference of the murders.
The 42-year-old Haight is suspected by police of carrying out the shootings two weeks after his wife requested a divorce and just days after her family claims he removed firearms from the home that may have been used to stop him.
Haight had already told investigators two years prior that the allegations against him were false and that he had never physically abused his daughter. He called Macie “mouthy” and acknowledged that she had a temper, attributing some of their conflicts to the loss of his father and the divorce of his brother.
The investigator’s notes also provided insight into how Haight treated Tausha Haight, his wife. Investigators learned from Macie that her father regularly disparaged her mother, a claim he refuted. However, Michael Haight said in his interview that he had grabbed his wife’s iPad and smartphone to monitor her text messages in order to see whether she had made any disparaging remarks about his family.
Tausha Haight informed the authorities that she didn’t want her husband to face criminal charges and that she hoped the incident would serve as “a wake-up call” for him.
Michael Haight’s actions were described as “near to assaultive” by an investigator, however Enoch Police and the Iron County Attorney opted not to press charges.
When asked Tuesday why there were no charges filed, Enoch Police chose not to comment. In a statement released on Tuesday, the Iron County Attorney’s office claimed that after being contacted in 2020, their agency decided there wasn’t enough proof to press charges against Haight.
The statement read, “Although specifics are not defined, this decision was likely based on a failure to establish each element of the offense(s) beyond a reasonable doubt and/or statute of limitations obstacles.”
It further stated that the Enoch Police did not provide interview transcripts or police records for prosecutors to analyze.
The family of Michael Haight’s lawyer, Matt Munson, was not immediately available for comment.
Following a welfare check prompted by a call from a friend who claimed Tausha Haight had skipped an appointment earlier in the week, police discovered the dead of the Haight family.
Law enforcement is still looking into the deaths of the Haight family, according to statements made by officials last week. Officials from Utah and President Joe Biden expressed their condolences and brought the murder-suicide to national prominence. It highlighted how, over the past 20 years, family mass killings have become a disturbingly frequent tragedy in the United States, happening on average every 3.5 weeks.