For almost 22 years, they waited and wondered what had happened to their 23-year-old daughter and sister missing from her North Jacksonville home after her purse and her car were found near the airport.
But when DNA tests identified skeletal remains found in the backyard of Bonnie Lynn Haim’s former home on Dolphin Avenue as her, investigators had their first piece of new evidence in a very cold case.
That led to Monday’s arrest of husband Michael Ray Haim in Waynesboro, N.C., on a murder charge, tying up another loose end of an investigation that started with weeks of searching for her body in January 1993.
Bonnie Haim’s father, Robert Pasciuto, said the family didn’t have “anything to say at the moment” when reached about the developments. Bonnie and Michael Haim’s son, now Aaron Fraser, wouldn’t comment yet either, according to his family.
On a Facebook page set up by sister Liz Mahoney Peak to seek leads on Bonnie’s disappearance, words of thanks were printed an hour after police announced the arrest.
“Thank you for your patience, love and support as we close one chapter of Bonnie Pasciuto Haim’s story and open another,” it said.
Sheriff’s Office Director Mike Bruno announced the arrest at a Tuesday news conference, standing with State Attorney Angela Corey and Robbie Hinson, the original homicide detective in the case. Bruno said Michael Haim, 49, will be extradited back to Jacksonville to go to trial.
He’s been residing in North Carolina with family,” Bruno said. “… There are still some elements to put together, but ultimately we had the probable cause and based on the information through 20-plus years and detective Hinson’s work, we were able to build this case.”
Hinson worked the case initially as a Sheriff’s Office homicide detective and now as a State Attorney’s Office investigator.
“We used every resource we could to bring it to conclusion,” he said. “… I am really thankful and grateful that the good Lord let me see this to its completion.”
Bonnie Haim was a computer analyst who had been married to her husband about five years. Their son, Aaron, was 3 at the time of her disappearance.
Michael Haim told police that he and his wife had an argument the night of Jan. 6 and that she had left their Dolphin Avenue home just north of the Trout River the next day. Hours later, a clerk at a motel near Jacksonville International Airport found her purse in a trash bin, then her Toyota Camry was found abandoned at the airport.
At the time, Haim said he and his wife had some disagreements but nothing involving violence. He said she had been sad lately.
“I would love her to come back home and work everything out,” Haim told the Times-Union. “Everyone has a few problems, but she never did this before.”
The family gathered a year later to host a memorial for Bonnie off Airport Road, hoping the publicity would turn up leads. Michael Haim did not attend.
On the Facebook page with dozens of family photos, many show a smiling Haim with her son. A Nov. 18, 2012, entry says the disappearance remains “an open book,” fill it.
“Bonnie’s soft quiet voice continues to call me to that book. Though she has been gone for almost 20 years, the last chapters have not yet been written,” the entry said in part.
Later that same day, a post reacts to the discovery of human remains in Northwest Jacksonville, saying that every time a body or bones are found, “far too many families across our region are hopeful and scared that it could be the body of their missing loved one.”
On Jan. 6, 2013, another entry acts as Bonnie’s voice, reminding readers that she was declared a missing person 20 years ago that day.
“My friends and family and hundreds of people that I had never met searched for me but have not yet found me,” it reads. “… With every new subdivision and building that is built, I have hopes that someone will find my grave. As each year passes, I have hopes that someone will want to clear their conscience and tell the story of my last hours. Perhaps this is the year that the story of my life will be completed and my body will finally be laid to rest with a proper burial.”
That post predicted what happened.
On Dec. 15 workers digging out a backyard pool at the home on Dolphin Avenue found what appeared to be a piece of skull, police said. No one had lived there for some time. While neighbors speculated it could be Haim, her father said he didn’t think so but that “anything is possible.”
Eight months later Bruno said the DNA tests came back confirming the identity, and the investigation into her death was revived. Corey credited Hinson’s doggedness for this week’s result.
“This case involves just hundreds of individual circumstances spanning the last 20-something years that we will put together and put in front of a jury to seek justice for Bonnie Haim and her son,” said Corey, who also worked on this case in 1993 as an assistant state attorney. “… I can’t tell you what a long time it’s been in this case. And I can’t tell you the number of times after we ran out of leads, so to speak back then, that Robbie would come put a reminder in my office not to ever forget this case, and neither one of us have ever forgotten it.”
The couple’s son, Aaron, didn’t forget either. He filed and won a $26.3 million wrongful death lawsuit against his father in April 2005, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Corey said she hopes to have this case in front of a jury within a year, after it goes to a grand jury.
Well…what do you think? Should I keep up with this murder?