Records released on Tuesday reveal that local prosecutors and police have decided to criminally charge the man in question for child abuse, as he had been under investigation for the same offense for the past two years. Prior to turning the gun on his wife and fatally shooting her, this Utah man had been investigated for child abuse for two years, and had five kids with the mother.
The obtained police records shed light on previous police investigations into a pattern of violent behavior exhibited by his family and provided warning signs.
Authorities said they were aware of previous issues at the home but did not elaborate during a news conference on January 4th, following the ongoing investigation into the 4 killings in the small town of Enoch.
“During a 2020 interview with authorities, Macie Haight, the eldest daughter of the family, provided detailed accounts of multiple assaults, including one in which she was choked by her father. She expressed extreme fear that he would prevent her from breathing and ultimately cause her death.”
During the child abuse investigation that followed an August 27, 2020, phone call to the police from a non-family member who was not a potential reporter of child abuse, investigators told 14-year-old Macie that her recent episode, which included her father’s violent actions of banging her into a wooden piece along the back of the couch and grabbing her shoulders, also involved shaking and choking.
The Haights, a caring household, as recounted by neighbors and individuals from the nearby Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, resided in Enoch, a small town of approximately 8,000 residents located in southern Utah near Cedar City. Two years after, authorities discovered eight deceased individuals, including Macie, at the family’s residence. This tragic incident of murder-suicide deeply impacted the community of Enoch.
Last week, an obituary was published in the Spectrum George St. Describing Michael Haight, a father and businessman, who made it a point to spend quality time with each of his children. He was also praised as an Eagle Scout. However, there was backlash after the obituary failed to mention the offline activities and killings.
Haight, 42, committed the shootings a fortnight after his spouse had initiated divorce proceedings and mere days after her family members claim he confiscated firearms from the residence that potentially could have been employed to prevent his actions, as per the authorities’ belief.
During his interview with investigators two years before, Haight denied assaulting his daughter and stated that the report was a misunderstanding. Macie said that he admitted to getting angry and becoming “mouthy,” attributing some of his struggles to his brother’s divorce and father’s death.
Haight’s portrayal of his spouse, Tausha Haight, illuminated the investigators’ understanding of her mother as well. He denied the accusation that she would frequently demean her father, but investigators informed Macie that she had spoken negatively about her family. Haight Michael stated in his interview, however, that he had confiscated his wife’s cellphone and iPad to monitor her text messages.
Tausha Haight didn’t want to file criminal charges against her husband, so she told the authorities that calling him would be a wake-up call, hoping it would prompt an investigation.
Even though investigator Michael Haight told Attorney Enoch Iron County Police that his behavior was “assaultive,” no decision has been made to file criminal charges against him.
Officials from the Family and Child Department, the agency responsible for protecting children in Utah, stated in a statement that they received information about allegations of child abuse after the police conducted an investigation. Officials conducted separate interviews with the mother, father, and daughter, all of whom received specialized training in child abuse.
Dotson Rob, the City Manager, stated that the case did not meet the requirements for prosecution and the child protective services in the city. Additionally, he mentioned that the assessment of lethality did not indicate a deadly relationship with the mother, but they also conducted it.
The Iron County Attorney’s office stated that they had called for a review in 2020, echoing a statement that there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges against Haight. However, the office added that prosecutors had not received reports or interview transcripts from police officer Enoch.
Although the specifics are not articulated, this conclusion likely based on an inability to prove each element of the offense(s) beyond reasonable doubt, stating the barriers and limitations of statute.
Matt Munson, the lawyer representing Michael Haight’s family, refrained from making any statements.
Prior in the week, Tausha Haight had failed to attend a scheduled meeting, prompting a friend to contact the authorities to perform a wellness verification on the Haight family’s corpses that they discovered.
Enoch officials declared that the investigation into the deaths is still in progress, but they did not provide any fresh details in the statement released on Tuesday evening.
Over the last twenty years, there has been a distressingly frequent occurrence of mass killings within families throughout the United States, happening approximately every 3.5 weeks. The act of murder followed by suicide gained widespread recognition and received messages of sympathy from officials in Utah as well as President Joe Biden. This incident emphasized the severity of the issue.