‘I am not safe with you’: Home video shows pattern of control and manipulation hours before Utah murder-suicide - East Idaho News
‘I am not safe with you’

‘I am not safe with you’: Home video shows pattern of control and manipulation hours before Utah murder-suicide

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SALT LAKE CITY (Deseret News) — On Jan. 3, Michael Haight told his children he loved them, that the next day they could all go sledding and went over some specifics of his impending divorce with his wife, Tausha Haight.

The next morning, Haight shot and killed his entire family before turning the gun on himself, police say. Newly released video footage obtained by the Deseret News through a public records request Monday gives a window into the Haights’ home, and Michael Haight’s controlling, manipulative behavior just hours before the murder-suicide.

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition was in the process of reviewing the videos Monday and could not comment at the time of publication. Public and private officials are trying to determine what, if anything, could have been done to prevent the tragedy that occurred.

Without additional context about the Haights, the videos might seem relatively benign, with a few exceptions — Tausha Haight references several years of emotional abuse and tells her estranged husband that his presence around the house puts everyone on edge. It’s unclear why Michael Haight recorded the videos. In at least one, he tells Tausha Haight that he is recording. Others appear to be secretly filmed, with his phone in his lap or in a pocket.

At one point, Tausha Haight recalls a conversation with Michael Haight during Thanksgiving, where he wouldn’t let her take a separate car to a family event — even though she did not feel safe with him.

“Those are deal breakers for me,” Tausha Haight tells him. “You have not shown me that I am safe with you, that you choose my safety or concerns. You show that you don’t even care.”

Michael Haight, who at times seems oblivious to the fact that Tausha Haight has already filed for divorce, pleads with her to not make things contentious and says he has been trying to work on his mental health and their relationship.

‘I’m in a corner’

But during the nearly 72 minutes of video which the Deseret News reviewed on Monday, Michael Haight does not sound like a violent person. This is despite him already conducting an internet search for things like “Would a neighbor hear a gunshot in a garage?” and “If you hear a single gunshot in your neighborhood at night would you immediately recognize it as such?” according to police.

Instead, he at times appears to sound tearful in an attempt to elicit sympathy from Tausha Haight, an example of the emotional manipulation that Tausha Haight herself pointed out, both in the videos and in other accounts obtained by the Deseret News.

“I know you have no reason to give me a chance, or trust me for anything. I know. I’m telling you I’m in a corner,” Michael Haight says, appearing to be crying. “… I’m pleading, I’m trying to take care of my family. And I know, I hurt your feelings and I feel horrible. I’ll go to 20 counselors if I have to go to 20 counselors, I don’t care. I want my family. I want that more than anything.”

“I have no time for self care,” Michael Haight later says, telling Tausha Haight the divorce is impacting his “hopes and dreams for when I was done with Allstate,” where he was previously employed.

Police say Michael Haight later shot and killed his five children — 4-year-old Gavin, 7-year-old twins Sienna and Ammon, 12-year-old Brilee, and 17-year-old Macie — as well as 40-year-old Tausha Haight and her mother, 78-year-old Gail Earl. Michael Haight then turned the gun on himself. In the final police report, a neighbor says they heard what sounded like fireworks, but in the cadence of gunshots, at about 3:30 a.m.

‘I cannot continue’

Two weeks before the shooting, Michael Haight was served divorce papers at his Allstate Insurance office. And records obtained by the Deseret News show years of emotional and physical abuse, chronicled by Enoch police and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.

In much of the footage released Monday, Earl is in the room with them. Police say she had been living with the family to help with the divorce. Several videos appear to be taken in the morning, while the children are presumably getting ready for school. Others are taken at night, with Tausha Haight pausing during one to put her youngest, Gavin, to bed.

The busy family life of the Haights is apparent, with some of the conversations inaudible because of children yelling in the background. During one video, Gavin barges in, and Michael Haight says: “I think he needs some tickles!” Gavin can then be heard giggling hysterically. In another, Michael Haight tells one of his kids that they’ll go sledding tomorrow.

Financial disagreements

But the majority of the recordings capture conversations between the Haights hashing out divorce specifics. Michael Haight does the majority of the talking and is particularly focused on how much he will have to pay in child support.

“I feel like you’re pushing me in a corner, you want the best of both worlds. … I’m feeling a lot of pressure here, I’m feeling like I just walked away from a business because I was feeling too much pressure, I wanted more time with my family, and then I get blindsided with the timing of this. It’s almost like we’re doing this now so your rights are protected, or you can try to get as much as you can out of child support,” Michael Haight tells his wife.

“I’m doing this because I cannot continue to tolerate that way you are treating me,” she responds.

Several times during the videos, Michael Haight accuses Tausha Haight of pitting the children against him, and he claims that she is the reason they have a poor relationship.

“Right now, I’m the bad guy for them. And I have been for two months. Ever since you came back from girls’ weekend,” he says.

Police reports show Michael Haight had a history of abusive behavior toward his children, including one instance when he choked his oldest daughter, Macie Haight.

Other parts of the conversation reveal how controlling Michael Haight was with the family’s finances.

“I have seen what your payouts are from Allstate and yet we continue to live well below our means,” Tausha Haight says, as Michael Haight briefly interrupts her, “… I have had a budget of $100 per person for Christmas and you belittle me and berate me and assume that I do not stick to that budget.”

‘We’re not able to relax’

Tausha Haight also makes several references hinting at Michael Haight’s recent refusal to leave the house when asked, which aligns with police interviews that suggest he was obsessed with his image.

“I would love for you to move out on your own,” she tells him. “But you’re not moving out. And now you’re … making me go the legal route.”

“I don’t want to have something else broken,” he later tells her.

The videos are another example of what the hundreds of pages of records and witness statements, and hours of interviews conducted by the Deseret News, already show — that Michael Haight’s family was ready for the divorce.

“Our kids have mentioned, especially our older two, that when you’re here it is more tense. We’re not able to relax. We’re still walking around on eggshells,” Tausha Haight tells him.

Later, she says: “I don’t have a voice, Mike. I don’t have a voice. I will have freedom now. I will have financial freedom where I’m not controlled.”