SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Child protective services had opened an investigation of a Utah man over alleged child abuse and threats to his family just weeks before he killed seven of his family members and then himself, new documents reveal.
Caseworkers were at the Haight house in the small town of Enoch on Dec. 19, two weeks before Michael Haight fatally shot his wife, their five children and his wife’s mother before killing himself, show the Utah Division of Child and Family Services case documents obtained by the Deseret News through a public records request.
The agency had opened the investigation 11 days earlier based on abuse of the couple’s oldest daughter that had occurred in previous years.
The latest alleged abuse happened just days before the visit when Haight was accused of throwing his 7-year-old son to the ground after he got upset with him. His wife, Tausha Haight, told a caseworker that she was concerned about the tone her husband had used and “how he looks when he is angry,” the report revealed.
She asked caseworkers not to interview her husband until after she filed for divorce, which happened Dec. 21. She told caseworkers that her husband had threatened to take his own life or “make her life hell” if she left him.
Caseworkers never interviewed Michael Haight.
They were not waiting for the wife’s approval to do the interview, but rather gauging next steps in the investigation, said Department of Child and Family Services spokesperson Miranda Fisher in a statement to the Deseret News.
“Unfortunately this tragic incident occurred prior to further intervention,” the agency’s summary report said.
Previously released records showed that authorities had investigated Haight for child abuse in 2020 but that police and prosecutors decided not to charge him.
The newly released report documents detail several reports of abuse, including an incident in 2021 when Haight suddenly slammed on the brakes on the highway. It scared the family and left red marks from the seat belts on their bodies. In another incident, Haight grabbed his oldest daughter’s head and threw her into the hard part of the couch.
The daughter, Macie, told caseworkers that her dad would tower over her and her siblings and get close to make them feel intimidated.
“Dad jumps to react to anything he doesn’t like,” said Macie, the records show. “He yells a lot and wants to make sure they know he is right.”
A previously released police search warrant returned revealed that a search of Michael Haight’s phone showed he searched Google with the question, “can you hear a gunshot in a house.” He also researched how loud 9mm and 40mm guns were. Relatives have also said Haight, 42, had previously taken guns from the home, leaving his wife and mother-in-law unable to defend themselves.