SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man who fatally shot his wife, her mother and the couple’s five kids after he was investigated for child abuse left a suicide note saying he “would rather rot in hell” than continue enduring what he called controlling behavior by his wife, investigators wrote in a report released on Friday.
The claims in the suicide note left by Michael Haight, 42, stand in stark contract to conclusions by investigators in the 57-page report that overwhelmingly portray Haight, and not his wife, as controlling and abusive. The report cites the family’s communications before the killings and interviews from community members conducted after the January tragedy.
“This is nonsense and I can’t handle it for one more day. We will not be a burden on society. I kept asking for help and you wouldn’t listen,” Michael Haight, 42, wrote in the note included in the report released by the city of Enoch.
“I would rather rot in hell than to put up with another day of this manipulation and control over me,” Haight wrote.
Haight’s attorney, Matt Munson, did not immediately respond to request for comment Friday.
The report builds off documents released after the murder-suicide that detailed how Haight removed firearms from the home, was investigated on suspicion of child abuse, and searched online for “gunshot in a house” in the lead-up to the shootings.
It paints a picture of Haight as a volatile husband concerned about maintaining a facade of perfection throughout the southern Utah community in which the family lived, where the majority of residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The report also details how bedding was laid over all but one of his children’s bodies in bedrooms throughout the home. Body camera footage released along with the report shows a tidy home.
Investigators also interviewed a neighbor who said she was awakened on the night before the eight bodies were discovered when she heard multiple “bangs” that she assumed were fireworks.
The report describes the circumstances leading up to the killings, which took place two weeks after Haight’s wife, Tausha Haight, filed for divorce.
People close to the Haights interviewed by investigators whose names were redacted in the report said that Michael Haight had lost his job at Allstate Insurance in nearby Cedar City, Utah and was seeking to start an independent agency.
They said, despite his wife’s wishes and pursuit of divorce, that he remained living in the family home up to the tragedy with his wife, five children and mother-in-law, who was there out of safety concerns for her daughter.
The report also details how Haight, his wife, mother-in-law and five children were found in bedrooms throughout the family home on the afternoon of Jan. 4 after a person police described as a “family friend” entered through an open door.
Police had gone to check on the Haights earlier in the afternoon after concerns about their welfare were reported, but left without reporting any signs or observations of violence.
“No one answered the door. It didn’t appear that anyone was in the home since no noise could be heard,” an Enoch Police officer wrote in a report summarizing his visit to the family home before bodies were discovered.
Tausha Haight, her mother Gail Earl and her four-year-old child were found in the couple’s first floor bedroom laying on pillows, partially covered with blankets and surrounded by blood. The other children were found in bedrooms throughout the home, all of them in their beds except for the seven-year-old on the floor and Haight, who was found lying on the floor on a sleeping bag.
The southern Utah murder-suicide is among more than 30 family mass killings that have occurred in the United States over the past two years. They’ve happened nearly every 3-1/2 weeks over the last two decades on average, according to a database compiled by USA Today, The Associated Press and Northeastern University on killings where four or more people were killed, not including the perpetrator.