After Life


“How We Make Sense of the Indefensible”

By Steve Watkins

“Obituary for the Utah man who fatally shot his five children, mother-in-law and estranged wife: ‘Michael made it a point to spend quality time with each and every one of his children.’”

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, was one of the first to post on Twitter about the bizarre obituary for mass murderer Michael Haight. “Michael enjoyed making memories with the family,” the obit said. “Michael lived a life of service.”

The full obituary for Haight, who killed himself after murdering his entire Mormon family in early January, had been posted on the Southern Utah Mortuary website in Cedar City, Utah. Shortly after Watts’s tweet, the funeral home blocked online access, but you can still read it on Watts’s Twitter feed, if you have the stomach for it. The obituary also appeared in local newspapers—in one case across the fold from the obit for the family members Haight slaughtered.

“And if that’s not gross enough,” Watts next tweeted, “the wife’s family put out a statement supporting… guns: ‘This is the type of loss that will continue to occur in families, communities and this nation when protective arms are no longer accessible…. It is our desire that the media turn their attention to the great works of God that can render a forgiving heart, how religion can heal and enlarge out capacity for love, and a return to foundational principles of peace within our nation.’”

The family’s statement, published in the East Idaho News, included a smiling photograph of two of the victims—the mother-in-law, Gail Earl, and her daughter Tausha Haight, mother of the five murdered children. 

Friends of the family commented on Watts’s Twitter feed that she just didn’t understand the Mormon culture. “Your outside perspective on this one is interesting since I grew up with the family & I’m still connected, through social media,” one woman posted. “We are LDS, the same faith they are. I think the desire to focus on our hopes for a joy filled afterlife are how we make sense of the indefensible.”

To which Watts responded, “As if he deserved a joy filled afterlife.”

Michael Haight, whose wife had filed for divorce after multiple abuse accusations against him, took all the guns from the home before returning to murder his family. His oldest daughter Macie had told police a couple of years earlier that her father was emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive, that he had slammed her head against a wooden couch frame, and that he had once choked her until she was afraid she might die. Michael Haight’s explanation was that Macie had been “mouthy,” and that he’d been having a hard year after his father’s death.

Police concluded that Haight’s actions hadn’t been “assaultive,” just “very close to assaultive.” He was never charged. 

You can check out the full obituary for Michael Haight, plus news articles and the family’s statement, HERE on Watts’s Twitter feed, along with a host of bizarre comments and testimonials, such as this one, from a woman who identified herself as one of Haight’s relatives: 

“Michael and his family will be greatly missed. He was always quick with a smile and a kind word. He went out of his way to help and serve other people. He loved his family and was proud of them. He took the time to show people that he loved them by serving them…. I’m grateful for his example of Christlike love and service, his life and his friendship.”

None of the obituary comments mentioned the victims. 

Watts, meanwhile, had one more WTF post on her Twitter thread about the Haights. “And finally,” she wrote, “the family removed the murderer’s image from their GoFundMe photo and replaced him with… White Jesus.” 

That’s the photo you see at the top of this story.