April 11, 2019
Twenty-six years ago, 3-year-old Aaron Fraser told a caseworker his dad had shot his mom.
But it took years to gather the alleged evidence — and on Tuesday, in a Jacksonville, Florida, courtroom, Fraser recounted how he was digging in the yard of his childhood home in 2014 when he came across what he first believed was a “coconut,” reports Jacksonville TV station WJXT.
“I picked up the coconut object and it ended up being the top portion of her skull,” he said. “I had it in my hand. …. Looked back in the hole and you could see teeth. At that point in time, you could see the top portion of her eye sockets.”
Those remains led police to reopen the case and eventually arrest Michael Haim, now on trial for allegedly killing his then 23-year-old wife Bonnie Haim, who went missing in January 1993. Fraser, who was later adopted, is the Haims’ biological son.
The couple had a “fairy tale” romance that eventually soured, leading Bonnie Haim to plan a separation, Duval County Assistant State Attorney Alan Mizrahi told jurors in his opening statement, according to The Florida Times-Union. “The fairy tale 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,” alleges Mizrahi. “While some sins can be buried away … the truth was always out there.”
At the time of the alleged murder, child caseworker Brenda Medders interviewed Fraser, who told her that he knew his mother was injured, Medders said in court Tuesday. Court documents in the case indicate he told her: “Daddy hurt Mommy.”
The 2015 arrest affidavit for Michael Haim went further: “Aaron also stated that ‘Daddy shot Mommy’ and ‘My daddy could not wake her up,’” reports WJXT.
In the intervening years, with no body found or criminal charges filed, Fraser won a wrongful death lawsuit against Michael Haim. Fraser was also awarded ownership of his childhood home, which his birth father had been renting out with specific instructions to not dig in the backyard, according to WJXT.
In 2014, during renovation at the property, Fraser lifted a concrete slab while trying to reach a water leak under an outdoor shower in the back yard, and there he discovered his biological mother’s decomposed remains, he said.
The medical examiner who later identified the remains concluded Bonnie Haim died as the result of a homicide but couldn’t determine the exact cause, reports WJAX.
A .22-caliber shell casing discovered where Bonnie Haim’s remains were buried was the same caliber as a gun owned by her husband, and the medical examiner who examined a pelvis bone found what appeared to be a gunshot mark “consistent with an injury that took place during life or right at death,” Mizrahi told the jury, according to WJXT.
Michael Haim has pleaded not guilty. He has long denied knowledge of his wife’s whereabouts. “Basically she just wasn’t happy and she wanted to leave, and I couldn’t stop her from leaving,” he told WJXT in 2003.
His defense attorney, Janis Warren, told jurors the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office investigation was sloppily done, soley focused on Haim, and failed to consider other avenues for another killer, including a possible affair that Bonnie Haim may have been involved in.
The trial is continuing.