When a young mother disappears, her 3 year old son may be the only witness.
Weight: 110 lbs.
Detectives found her car at the airport
On Christmas morning, 1992, in Jacksonville, Florida, Bonnie Haim, a young wife and mother, opened presents with her son. Bonnie’s husband, Michael, captured the moment forever on video. Less than two weeks later, Bonnie Haim inexplicably vanished.
Police began to suspect that Bonnie was dead—a victim of foul play. Their suspicions soon focused on Michael Haim. Among the most damning evidence was the extraordinary testimony of a surprising witness—Michael and Bonnie’s three-year-old son, Aaron. This case has fueled a bitter, but unusual family dispute. Bonnie’s own parents say she willfully abandoned Michael. But some of Michael’s relatives are equally convinced that he murdered Bonnie.
Michael worked as a manager in the construction supply company owned by his Aunt Eveann and her husband. Bonnie did their accounts. Eveann claimed that Michael was often abusive to Bonnie at the office and at least once, became physical:
“One day they got into an argument… in the parking lot. And she came in crying and he had slammed her hand in the door and her nails were broke and she was very upset at that point.”
Bonnie and Michael Haim
Bonnie eventually decided to leave her husband, and in preparation, opened a bank account in her own name. To keep her plans secret, Bonnie had the bank statements mailed to her at work. According to Eveann, Michael was enraged when he found out. Bonnie closed the account. But according to those closest to her, Bonnie never wavered in her plan to divorce Michael. She gave money to a friend for safekeeping, put down a deposit on her own apartment, and enrolled her son in a new preschool.
But all that changed on the night of January 6, 1993. That evening, Bonnie came home from work at around 7:30 PM. She intended to drop by Eveann’s later, to finalize plans for a friend’s baby shower. According to Eveann, Bonnie called her at 8:30:
“She was crying and she was upset. I asked why, she said that she and Mike had gotten into a discussion. And I asked her if she wanted me to call her back later. And she said no, that she would just talk to me in the morning.”
The next morning, neither Bonnie nor Michael showed up at work. However, hopes for Bonnie’s safe return began to dim that same morning. Her purse turned up roughly five miles from home, buried in a motel dumpster near the Jacksonville airport. According to Detective Robert Hinson of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department, robbery was not a motive due to the amount of money and credit cards left in the purse:
“The purse was secured by a maintenance worker, and a police officer was called to the scene, along with family members.”
Michael insisted from the start that he was not involved in his wife’s disappearance. He said that on the night of January 6th, Bonnie drove off alone after an argument at around 11 PM. According to Detective Hinson, Michael stated that he called his mother, Carolyn Haim, and asked her to watch Aaron while he looked for Bonnie:
“According to Carol and Mike, he was gone approximately 45 minutes. Then after he allegedly did that, he returned to the house where he waited until the next morning and never called the police, and called in and told his employer that he was going to be sick that day.”
Detective Hinson was less than convinced by Haim’s account. His instincts led him back to the Jacksonville Airport, near the motel. Sure enough, it was there that Detective Hinson found Bonnie’s car, abandoned in a parking lot:
“What was unusual was the positioning of the driver’s seat, which appeared to be farther back than would have been comfortable for Bonnie. It was more in relation to someone about Michael Haim’s size. After the vehicle was processed, we found a shoe print on the driver’s side floor board. It was a very pristine print.”
Police concluded that the print had been made by the last person to drive the car. The distinctive tread pattern was traced to a rare style of athletic shoe. The exact pair was owned by none other than Michael Haim. However, Bonnie’s father Robert Pasciuto did not feel the shoe print had any significance:
“If it’s his footprint, I’m not sure it means anything. My footprint is in my wife’s car, that doesn’t mean I have ever done her any harm.”
Next, in a bold attempt to uncover the truth, Detective Hinson arranged for a child psychologist to interview Bonnie and Michael’s son:
“From what Aaron told us that day, my only conclusion was that there had been a domestic fight and that Michael Haim had killed his wife and had removed her, and that their three and a half year old son Aaron Haim had witnessed this.”
However, Bonnie’s father Robert was unconvinced by his grandson’s testimony:
“The credibility of a child is something that you have to judge in perspective. He’s said a couple of things that we know were not true. Mom’s car is in the lake. We know her car wasn’t there.”
The families continue to be split about what, if anything, Michael knows about his wife’s disappearance.
Bonnie has been declared legally dead and a civil court found Michael Haim liable in her death. He was ordered to pay $26.3 million dollars to his son and to his wife’s estate. Haim’s parental rights have been terminated. No criminal charges have been filed. Michael Haim maintains his innocence to this day.