Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Utah dad who killed wife and kids was cleared of abusing daughter after blaming her for being ’mouthy’

14-year-old daughter described father’s violent behaviour including choking and shaking

Stuti Mishra
Wednesday 18 January 2023 17:35 GMT
Pallbearers carry a casket to the graveside service for the Haight and Earl families in La Verkin, Utah
Pallbearers carry a casket to the graveside service for the Haight and Earl families in La Verkin, Utah (The Salt Lake Tribune)

A Utah man who is charged with shooting his entire family in a murder-suicide had been investigated two years prior for child abuse against his daughter, new records show, but local police and prosecutors decided not to criminally charge him after he claimed the girl was being “mouthy”.

The police records released on Tuesday reveal that Michael Haight showed violent behaviour towards his family.

In a 2020 interview with authorities, Macie Haight, the family’s eldest daughter, detailed multiple assaults, including one where she was choked by her father and was “very afraid that he was going to keep her from breathing and kill her”.

The child abuse investigation was launched after a non-family member reported potential child abuse to the police in August 2020.

Macie, then 14, told investigators that her father’s violent behaviour started in 2017. She also spoke of an incident where he grabbed her by the shoulders and banged her into a wooden piece along the back of the couch.

In his own interview with an investigator, Haight denied assaulting Macie and called the report a misunderstanding, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

But he reportedly admitted to getting angry at his daughter for being “mouthy” and said that anger was in part fueled by his father’s death and brother’s divorce.

Notes from the investigation, obtained by the Union-Tribune, also show Macie reporting that her father often belittled her mother, Tausha Haight.

Haight denied doing so but said that he had taken his wife’s phone and iPad to “surveil her text messages to check if she had spoken negatively about his family”, the outlet reported.

Investigators said Tausha Haight did not want her husband to face criminal charges but that she hoped the investigation would serve as a “wake-up call”.

The investigator who interviewed Haight described his behaviour as “close to assaultive”, but ultimately no charges were filed.

District Attorney, Chad Dotson said in a statement on Tuesday that his office did not charge Haight in 2020 because “there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges” likely based “on an inability to prove each element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt and/or statute of limitations barriers.”

Haight is suspected of carrying out a murder-suicide that left his entire family dead on 4 January in the small town of Enoch. The police said he fatally shot his wife, her mother and their five kids, including Macie, before turning the gun on himself.

Police believe Haight, 42, carried out the shootings two weeks after his wife had filed for divorce and just days after her relatives say he took guns from the house.

Haight is a businessman who was described in glowing terms in an obituary published in the St George Spectrum last week, calling him a father who “made it a point to spend quality time with each and every one of his children”.

The obituary made no mention of the killings and was taken offline after backlash.

Additional reporting by agencies

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in