The news media in the U.S. nowadays is fascinated by murder cases in which several people are found dead — especially if it’s in their own home — with some question as to who the murderer might be.
The first such case that most of us would think of right now was in that small college town in Idaho, where four young college students were found stabbed to death in their beds in a rental property on or near the property of the college. It took the police, from a number of jurisdictions, seven weeks before they finally made an arrest of a young man from way back east.
THE EVIDENCE as released to the press appears to be pretty conclusive that this young man is the murderer. But there are other such mass murders, often of multiple family members in their homes, that do not seem to draw the attention of the press that this one did.
The one that is now nagging at my brain was just this past week, in a small southern Utah town called Enoch. A family was living there, apparently typical Utah middle-class residents, last name Haight. They were members of the local Latter-day Saints church (many of those in Utah), and apparently a typical church-going family, husband, wife, wife’s mother, and five children, the oldest just 17.
Now, the wife had filed for divorce just a few weeks earlier, which is being used by the police to justify the “believe the woman, arrest the man” saying many officers used to use in domestic violence cases. In other words, “It’s always the man’s fault.” And the police from that area of Utah seem to be using the fact of her filing for divorce as some kind of evidence that “the evil, cruel man killed his whole family (including his mother-in-law), and finally himself.”
NEIGHBORS OF the Haights said, when the murders were discovered, that they were kind people, good neighbors, and so forth. The attorney who Mrs. Haight went to to file her divorce complaint, told police that she never said anything to him about Mr. Haight ever acting threatening toward her, striking her, or anything else judged as domestic violence. Or having done anything similar to their children.
The case starting to look a little “iffy” to anyone? A picture of the Haight family, parents and five children, was displayed on a Utah newspaper with the original story about the family’s deaths, and in the photo, all the family members looked happy and content. Including Mr. Haight. And if there were any criminal arrests of him in the past, the police either forgot to mention them, or — well …
Did the police find the dead husband and father with the death gun in his hand? They never told the press about that, either. Or maybe it WASN’T in his hand! Or maybe the local press just chose to not mention that — for some reason.
I KNOW what a lot of you readers are probably thinking. “Hey, Engle, you weren’t there; you didn’t see the scene of the multiple murders! Why are you acting like you know exactly what happened?”
You’re right; I wasn’t there. I only saw that photo of the parents and children. But as a retired newspaper reporter, I know that things at a crime scene can be overlooked; maybe unintentionally on the part of the police. Or, maybe, for some other reason. Am I implying that maybe, just MAYBE, somebody other than Mr. Haight killed the other seven people, and himself? Not exactly; but I am saying that it’s not impossible that it happened that way.
Just one other observation: Stranger things than that have happened.