Utah father who allegedly killed family was investigated for child abuse: police

18 January 2023

ENOCH, Utah (KTVX) — A Utah father suspected of killing his family in a murder-suicide faced an investigation in 2020 into the possible abuse of one of his daughters, according to Enoch City Police documents obtained by Nexstar’s KTVX.

Michael Haight, 42, is believed to have killed his wife, his mother-in-law, and his five children before taking his own life on Jan. 4 at his home in Enoch, according to police. The Haights had started divorce proceedings in December 2022.

Father allegedly kills self, wife, mother-in-law and their 5 children in southwestern Utah home

In the Enoch Police incident report, dated Aug. 27, 2020, Haight was the subject of an investigation by police and a home visit by the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. At the time, criminal charges were deemed “not appropriate” by DCFS and the Iron County District Attorney’s Office, and the case was closed.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, District Attorney Chad Dotson said his office did not charge Michael 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.” However, Dotson also stated no interviews or police reports from the investigation were ever sent to his office for “formal screening of charges.”

“The Iron County District Attorney’s Office takes allegations of child abuse very seriously,” continued Dotson. “When law enforcement is unsure whether criminal charges are appropriate, cases are sent to our office to be formally screened. We review such cases and all associated reports and interviews in depth. Only then do we determine whether sufficient evidence exists to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”

The allegations

Officials conducted forensic interviews with Michael Haight, his wife Tausha Haight, and the teenage daughter in question after a complaint was filed by a DCFS employee. The incident report did not note the reason DCFS initiated the investigation.

According to the incident report, the daughter told interviewers that Michael Haight had assaulted her more than once over the course of three years. She specifically mentioned a situation in the family’s piano room where he “became angry at her and grabbed her by the shoulders. He shook her and her head banged into the wooden piece along the back of the couch.”

The daughter told officers that she was “terrified” that he was going to hurt her, and that while she didn’t suffer an injury in the piano room, she was “mostly scared.”

In another situation, the daughter said she was in the pantry of the kitchen when Michael Haight became “so angry at her that he grabbed her around the neck and choked her.” The daughter stated she was afraid “he was going to keep her from breathing and kill her.” However, the daughter appears to have walked back her statement, noting that she did not lose her breath and Michael Haight did not choke her.

In a third situation, the daughter reported an incident in the family garage where her father grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. She reported no injuries from the shaking.

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The daughter also told investigators that her father had yelled at her many times and often put down her mother in front of her, calling Tausha Haight “stupid” and “lazy.” Defending Tausha would make Michael angrier, according to the report. The daughter also reported her father taking away her mother’s cellphone to keep her from leaving the house.

Police interviewed Michael Haight directly. In multiple cases, he denied the daughter’s accusations of violence. He called his daughter “mouthy,” and did admit to sometimes losing his temper and yelling at his children. He also cited family difficulties at the time, including the recent passing of his father and his brother’s divorce.

Michael Haight said he believed his wife, Tausha, was talking with his soon-to-be ex-sister-in-law about his mother and his sister, and he said he did take Tausha’s cellphone and tablet to look at text messages.

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Police officers warned Michael Haight but ultimately felt they did not find enough to charge him. In a follow-up conversation with Tausha Haight, she asked police if her family would be safe if Michael returned home. She also told police she hoped the investigation would be a “wake-up call for Michael.” She also did not believe her husband should be arrested.

In the days leading up to the family’s murder-suicide, Tausha Haight told family members that Michael had removed guns from the home. Seeing as both Tausha and her mother, Gail Earl, had firearm training, she felt the removal of the guns made them “vulnerable.”

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