Consider the case of Edward Dalton Haffey. Haffey was the criminal courts’ equivalent of a Global Elite Gold Frequent Flyer. He’d done time for robbery, burglary, a bunch of drug offenses, and capped it with 20 years for murder. With a resumé like that, he wasn’t the most sought-after cat on Monster.com and he wound up working as a janitor for a chain of porn shops. (If you wondered whether the people in these businesses are sleazy, well, there’s one data point).
Haffey’s boss was one Michael Kuhnhausen, and Mike had a problem. His problem was named Susan, and she was 51, 5’7″ tall, and 250 pounds of angry ER nurse, and she was — for the moment, anyway — his wife. She was about to divorce him, and he needed her, not in any Hollywood emotional way, but because her job gave him health insurance, and his under-the-table porn-shop cleanup-manager gig didn’t. So he offered Haffey a chance to make more money than the small-time hood had ever imagined, let alone seen. That sets the stage for 6 Sep 2006, and FBI vet Jim Fisher takes up the story (edited for brevity):
[U]sing the house key Michael Kuhnhausen had given him, Haffey entered Susan Kuhnhausen’s Portland home. He deactivated the intrusion alarm, removed a claw hammer from his backpack, and waited.
At six in the evening, Susan Kuhnhausen, having completed her shift, pulled into the driveway. She let herself into the house and was wondering who had turned off the alarm when she received a glancing blow to the back of the head. She turned and came fact-to-face with a man with stringy hair and a long beard. He stood about five foot nine and weighted a hundred and seventy pounds. Before he could strike her again, she wrestled him to the floor and managed to get him into a choke hold. She squeezed as hard as she could, and within a matter of minutes he stopped breathing and went limp. With a dead man lying on her kitchen floor, the slightly injured but badly shaken victim walked next door to call 911.
It sounds like a scene from a Coen Brothers movie, but it really happened. The cops initially thought it was only a home invasion, but Haffey had bequeathed them enough clues that they were soon able to change Mike Kuhnhausen’s Zip Code also.
Haffey’s friends also had no problem coming forward to tell the cops what they knew — now. There is no honor among thieves, and theives were probably the highest class of Haffey’s associates — they went down from there.
Haffey’s autopsy helped explain why he had been overpowered by his victim. According to the medical examiner, at the time of his death, his body contained a near lethal dose of cocaine. He had been too drug-addled to commit the murder.
His dealer ratted him out, as did a “friend” he’d tried to recruit to help with the murder. The friend didn’t go to the cops until after Haffey’s death, but he didn’t help with the murder attempt, either.
He explained that Haffey just didn’t offer him enough money. He wouldn’t kill someone for just a few thousand dollars.
By all means Read The Whole Thing™ on Fisher’s site. You’ll also enjoy the story of John Corrion, who tried to kill his ex-wife with a flashlight, and then from prison hired another guy to do it with a bow and arrow.
“John is a very angry man,” his ex testified. Not her problem any more, as he’s doing life. That probably hasn’t improved his disposition.
There are many ironies here, but one of them is that it is trivially easy to kill a human being with a hammer or a flashlight, even though these criminals made a botch of it. (As we’ve reported before, hammers and blunt instruments are very common murder weapons). And Susan Kuhnhausen’s experience teaches the lesson that’s central to most military special operations selection courses: never give up.