A Florida man who killed his wife and buried her body in the back yard — only for it to be discovered by their adult son 21 years later — was sentenced to life behind bars this week, according to a new report.
Michael Haim, 52, of Jacksonville — who was convicted of second-degree murder for the gruesome slaying of his wife, Bonnie Haim — learned his fate in Duval County Court on Tuesday, the Florida Times-Union reported.
Guidelines for second-degree murder in 1993 suggest seven to 22 years behind bars — but Bonnie’s family had requested that the judge consider at least a 26-year-sentence to acknowledge the length of time since the woman’s death, and Michael’s years of freedom, according to the report.
They ended up getting more than what they asked for.
“For 26 years we searched for answers to our many questions,” Bonnie’s sister Liz Peak said in a statement read in court. “However, none of us wavered in our belief of what happened to Bonnie and who did it. Over the past 26 years many people have committed themselves to uncover the truth and finding justice for Bonnie.”
“We got justice, but we don’t have Bonnie,” she said, according to the report.
For years, the family grieved as Michael lived off his dead wife’s insurance policy, until he was arrested in 2015, according to the report.
The couple’s son, Aaron Fraser — who had been adopted and taken a different name — helped authorities crack the cold case.
Back in 2014, Fraser, along with his brother-in-law, was digging up a non-working pool and outdoor shower in the back yard when they found Bonnie’s badly decomposed remains, he tearfully testified during the trial last month.
Haim had long claimed he and his wife had been squabbling about marital problems one night in January 1993 — until she left the home without the couple’s son, the station reported.
He claimed he had gone searching for his wife, though he never contacted authorities. Police only found out when a maintenance worker found the woman’s purse, containing $1,250 in cash, in a hotel dumpster — and her car was later discovered in a nearby parking lot, according to the report.
Haim, who was only 3½ years old at the time, told a caseworker he saw “Daddy hit Mommy.”
Fraser suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder from the ordeal — a factor that Judge Steven Whittington said played a role in the sentence he chose.
“The severe emotional trauma Mr. Fraser suffered with the corresponding need to continued therapy, the ongoing depression, the suicidal ideations and the feeling of fear that he has had to endure is the exact type of emotional trauma that justifies an upward departure [from 1993 sentencing guidelines],” the judge wrote in his sentencing order, according to the Times-Union.