Enoch father faced abuse accusations years before murder-suicide
Jan 17, 2023, 8:00 PM
(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)
ENOCH, Utah — A father who killed his entire family in the southern Utah town of Enoch before taking his own life faced child abuse accusations just over two years before the murder-suicide.
The revelation comes from Enoch police records, obtained by KSL through a public records request.
Investigators believe Michael Haight, 42, murdered his estranged wife, Tausha, their five children, and Tausha’s mother, Gail Earl, before killing himself in their Enoch home on Jan. 4.
Abuse allegations come to light in Enoch family murder
According to a police report filed in 2020, Enoch police and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services both investigated the complaint. It involved Haight’s oldest daughter, Macie. Police met with Macie Haight at the Iron County Children’s Justice Center, where she told them her father had become “assaultive” with her at several points over the prior three years.
In that interview, Macie Haight told police her father had shaken her by the shoulders, knocked her head into the back of the couch, and choked her on separate occasions. Macie Haight also told police she had observed evidence of controlling behavior from her father toward her mother, such as him taking away Tausha Haight’s cellphone.
Michael Haight admitted losing his temper and sometimes yelling at his children, but characterized the interactions as a “misunderstanding,” according to the police report.
“He stated that he has never mistreated anyone in his family,” the officer who conducted the interview wrote, adding that Haight “denied ever shaking [Macie] by the shoulders or grabbing her around the neck.”
However, Haight apparently also admitted to confiscating his wife’s phone “to look at the text messages because she might be talking bad about his mom,” the officer wrote.
He also admitted that he took his wife’s iPad to work with him to monitor her messages, but lied to her about taking it.
“A wake-up call for Michael”
Police wrote that in a follow-up interview with Tausha Haight, she wanted to know if the family was safe.
“I told her that there was no indication that there would be any violent behavior on Michael’s part,” the officer wrote, adding that she should call 911 in the event of a problem.
“Tausha indicated that she is in hopes that this case will be a wake-up call for Michael,” the officer wrote next.
According to the report, police, the Iron County Attorney’s Office, and DCFS agreed “criminal charges would not be appropriate,” and police closed the case.
The documents KSL requested from Enoch City officials detailed other minor encounters with police. Those included traffic violations and noise complaints filed by Michael Haight, but no other accusations of abuse committed by him.
Legislation under consideration in the 2023 legislative session would require police to conduct a lethality assessment in cases of suspected intimate partner violence. While that law was not yet on the books in 2020, the police records indicate a lethality assessment was part of the investigation into the complaint against Michael Haight.
- Proposed bill seeks to create domestic violence task force
- Leaving an abusive relationship can be complicated and dangerous, expert says
- Communities, leaders respond to family’s death from domestic violence in Enoch
- Lt. Gov. Henderson hopes to turn tragedy into protective legislation
If you or someone you know is experiencing trouble linked to domestic violence, the following resources are available.
Utah Domestic Violence LINKLine
If LINKLine advocates experience an increased call volume, they will forward calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
StrongHearts Native Helpline