A final report on the suicide and murders of a Utah man and seven members of his family reveals a man obsessed with his image, under investigation for child abuse, and angry and blaming his wife for any perceived problems.
The report from the Enoch Police Department also includes body camera footage of officers arriving at the rural, southern Utah home of Michael and Tausha Haight and their five children. Tausha Haight’s mother, Gail Earl, was staying with the family because of her daughter’s safety concerns at the time of the January 4 murders and was shot to death alongside them, as CrimeOnline reported at the time.
A neighbor found the bodies after becoming concerned and entering the house; police had already been by the house for a welfare check when Tausha missed an appointment. They did not go inside.
Each person was shot at least once in the head, the report says, and some were shot multiple times. Officers found the bodies of Tausha Haight, 40, and Earl, 78, on the bed in the master bedroom, with 4-year-old Gavin on the floor. Sienna, 7; Ammon, 7; Briley, 12; and Macie, 17, were all found in their own bedrooms. Some of the children were in bed.
The suicide note
The body of Michael Haight, 42, was found atop a sleeping bag in a room in the basement — where he had been living since his wife filed for divorce in December, after first telling her to get out of the house and leave the children with him. Police said he left a suicide not describing himself as an “honorable good man” and his wife as the sources of all his troubles.
“I have worked my whole life for the ideal of an eternal family. I have been an honorable good man who has tried to do my best to provide for my family,” Haight wrote.”I have never seen someone who is so intent on finding faults in others. I have tried helping but it generally backfires and I seem to always get blamed.”
“I would rather rot in hell than to put up with another day of this manipulation and control over me,” he continued. “I’ve been complained [about] every step of the way that I work too much, put my church calling before my wife, and on and on and on. She has been so awful to me and my family for years […] this is nonsense and I can’t handle it for one more day. We will not be a burden on society.”
But neighbors, friends, and family members painted a very different picture, one of a man thoroughly obsessed with appearances who bullied and controlled his family through intimidation and threats of violence, if not outright violence.
“The suspect was very worried about his appearance in every way,” the report said. “He would do nothing to portray anything but a perfect life both personally and professionally.”
A neighbor said that Tausha had told her her husband was “very concerned” with keeping up appearances, had been verbally abusive to her “for a long time,” and that the abuse had spread to the children.
Another friend told police that Michael Haight’s reputation “was the first and foremost important thing to him.”
“She stated he was always trying (to) control who Tausha and the children interacted with in the event that they would say anything negative about him,” according to the report.
Allegations of child abuse
The report also disclosed questions about Michael Haight’s employment. His wife told some people that he quit his job at an insurance company and was started his own company, but other friends and neighbors told investigators that he had been fired. One friend, in fact, told investigators that Michael Haight asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement about his firing over “improprieties in his books,” the report said.
In an incident after Tausha Haight filed for divorce, the report says, the family went to church one Sunday, with Tausha refusing to allow Michael to sit with the rest of the family. Friends told investigators he “was angry because his public image was going to be questioned because he was not sitting with his family,” the report said.
Tausha Haight filed for divorce in December, after an incident described in documents obtained last month by Deseret News that say Michael Haight became angry when his wife told their son Ammon, who was sick, that he didn’t have to go to school. The documents say Haight yelled at the boy and threw him on the floor, then left for work. Caseworkers launched an investigation, but never interviewed the husband after Tausha asked them to wait until she had filed for divorce.
That incident took place on December 8. Tausha Haight filed for divorce on December 21, and the papers were served to Michael on December 27. The family was dead on January 4.
And that wasn’t the first time officials had looked into allegations of child abuse. In 2020, there were allegations that Michael had been abusing Macie, the oldest, for years. No charges were filed.
This report was compiled from reports by KSL, the Salt Lake Tribune, and KTVX.
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[Featured image: Tausha Haight and her children/family photo]