True Crime

Mum was buried in the back yard

Bonnie Haim was missing for 21 years

On the face of it, Bonnie and Michael Haim seemed happy.

Photos showed them smiling, Bonnie, 23, holding their baby Aaron in her arms.

But really, Bonnie was desperately unhappy.

Michael was abusive.

Wanting a way out, Bonnie opened a secret bank account in her own name. She was planning to escape.

Keen to cover her tracks, Bonnie had bank statements posted to her work address.

But Bonnie and Michael worked together at a construction company and he soon found out.

Furious, he ordered Bonnie to close the account.

So instead, she started leaving cash with a trusted friend, to start a new life with her little boy.

Haim family
Michael, Bonnie and baby Aaron (Credit: Florida Police, CBS)

On the evening of January 6, 1993, Bonnie had plans to see Michael’s aunt Eveann.

However, Bonnie called Eveann in tears and cancelled, saying she and Michael had argued again.

The following morning, neither Bonnie nor Michael turned up for work.

Michael called a co-worker and said Bonnie had left him.

Later that morning, Bonnie’s purse, containing her money, credit cards and ID, was discovered in a bin behind a hotel at the airport.

Soon after, Michael reported Bonnie missing.

He said she’d left him and Aaron at around 11pm the night before, saying she’d had an affair with another man.

But Eveann noticed her nephew didn’t seem upset by Bonnie’s disappearance.

And she knew that no matter how desperate Bonnie felt, she would never leave Aaron, aged just three.

Bonnie with Aaron as a little boy (Credit: Florida Police, CBS)

An investigation was launched.

When Bonnie’s car was found abandoned at the airport, officers noticed the driver’s seat was pushed further back, as though someone taller than Bonnie had been driving.

Police searched the family home several times, yet Bonnie’s disappearance remained a mystery.

Little Aaron was seen by a child welfare officer, and from the little boy’s mouth came a chilling testimony.

‘Daddy hurt Mummy,’ he said. ‘Daddy shot Mummy.’ Then, ‘My daddy could not wake her up’.

But it wasn’t enough evidence to charge Michael.

He remained the main suspect. However, Bonnie’s body was never found.

Aaron was taken into care and raised by adoptive parents. His name was changed to Aaron Fraser.

Meanwhile, Bonnie was declared dead, and Michael cashed in her life insurance, living off it for years.

Stories of his biological mother’s disappearance haunted Aaron as he grew up.

Bonnie Haim
Bonnie was planning to leave her husband (Credit: Florida Police, CBS)

Convinced Michael had been involved, Aaron filed a lawsuit against his father for wrongful death. Even without a body, Aaron won.

In 2005, he was awarded nearly $40 million as a settlement, which included ownership of his childhood home – the last place his mother had been seen.

In 2014, Aaron returned to the property. Those four walls held ugly memories for him – and many unresolved questions.

So, he decided to renovate.

He started by smashing apart a swimming pool, using a rented excavator.

At one point, the machine cracked a large concrete slab. Aaron began hacking at the pieces with a sledgehammer.

Below, in the dirt, he found a plastic bag – and from inside, he pulled something out. It looked like a coconut.

It was then he realised… it had teeth and eye sockets.

It was a skull.

Haim scene
Aaron dug up the yard himself (Credit: Florida Police, CBS)

The police discovered more human remains and DNA tests revealed what everyone feared – Aaron had dug up his mother’s remains.

She’d been there all along.

Michael Haim, then 52, was arrested.

In April this year, he went on trial for murdering his wife 26 years earlier. He pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution claimed he’d killed Bonnie because she planned to leave him.

‘The fairytale turned into a nightmare because this husband could do absolutely nothing in this world to stop his wife from taking his son and leaving. So he killed her,’ prosecution lawyer Alan Mizrahi said in his opening statement.’

The truth was always out there, buried in their backyard.’

Mizrahi pointed to a lease Haim used when renting out the home in 2000.

It banned renters from initiating ‘any landscaping or digging in the backyard’, or even having their dog in the backyard.

Michael Haim on the day of his arrest (Credit: Florida Police, CBS)
Aaron Haim in court
Aaron giving evidence at his father’s trial (Credit: Florida Police, CBS)

The exact cause of Bonnie’s death could not be determined. But the medical examiner confirmed a mark on her pelvis was consistent with a gunshot wound.

Plus, the court heard how a .22-calibre bullet shell was found alongside Bonnie’s remains.

And at the time of Bonnie’s death, Michael Haim had owned a .22-calibre rifle.

Haim took to the witness stand to deny Bonnie’s murder. ‘I love my wife and I would’ve never hurt my wife,’ he said.

Aaron Fraser was the prosecution’s star witness. ‘Daddy shot Mummy,’ he’d told child welfare officers all those years ago.

The defence questioned the validity of that testimony.

Were they just the ramblings of a toddler? Or had Aaron really witnessed the murder of his mother?

It was down to the jury to decide…

On April 12, Michael Haim was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

During the sentencing hearing, Aaron, now 29, said, ‘I think anyone can imagine, even if it’s not a loved one, finding a skull, picking it up, just what that would do to somebody. Not to mention it’s your mother.’

Originally published by TI Media
Republished with permission

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