Obituary praising Utah man who shot 7 family members removed after backlash

Jan 18, 2023, 6:28 PM

(Matt Rascon/KSL TV)...

(Matt Rascon/KSL TV)

(Matt Rascon/KSL TV)

ENOCH, Utah — The laudatory obituary of the Utah father accused of killing seven members of his family has been removed from online newspapers and funeral pages after sharp criticism.

Michael Orwin Haight, 42, is believed to have killed his wife, her mother and his five children in his Enoch home before taking his own life. The Cedar City newspaper, The Spectrum, carried the obit online, drawing ire from the public. It was also posted as a web page by Southern Utah Mortuary in Cedar City, Utah.

“Michael excelled at everything he did,” it read while lauding his achievements in education, business, leadership and service.

The obituary didn’t mention the other deaths at all but praised Michael Haight and his relationship with those whom police say he killed by shooting them. He was depicted as a good citizen, church member and Eagle Scout.

The obit also portrayed him as a loving family man and said he “enjoyed making memories with the family” and viewed each of his children as “a cherished miracle.”

Police reports released Tuesday showed that Michael Haight had a history of violence with his family.

The obit went viral days after the killings made national news, creating outrage online for praising the suspected murderer without mentioning the ending of eight total lives. Police say he shot and killed his estranged wife Tausha Haight, 40, their three daughters aged 7, 12 and 17 and their two sons, 4 and 7, and Tausha Haight’s mother, Gail Earl, 78.

The Gannett-owned Cedar City newspaper,  perhaps the most visible online publication to carry the obit, said it received it from a funeral home in a statement:

“The Spectrum removed the obituary due to the circumstances and sincerely regrets any distress this may have caused.”

A woman answering phones at Southern Utah Mortuary confirmed to NBC that the funeral home handled services for Michael Haight but didn’t disclose what involvement the business had in writing the obit. Typically family members supply obituaries to funeral homes.

Michael Haight still has an “In Remembrance of” page at Mortuary.org that lists his Jan. 7, 1980 birthdate and Jan. 4, 2023 death date with a photo.

Michael Haight’s funeral was held privately, while his victims were buried on Jan. 13 in a church in La Verkin, Utah, where Tausha Haight grew up. Approximatelly 800 people attended, while a private stream of the services was also provided for others.

A Twitter account, belonging to Shannon Watts, highlighted the obituary and called it “gross.” It has a thread of tweets, the first of which has 13.1 million likes as of Thursday. She told NBC she was stunned to read the praise for Haight in the obituary.

“I was shocked that this man’s obituary had a picture of him and said complimentary things about him and did not mention that his survivors did not include his wife and children — because he killed them,” Watts told NBC.

Domestic violence resources

In an emergency, call 911.

If you or someone you know is going through abuse, help is available.

  • Utah Domestic Violence Coalition operates a confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465).
  • Resources are also available online at the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition website.

There are several ways the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition can help people. Previous examples include providing financial assistance for funerals, for moving, for a variety of things, counseling that help people find a different path or stay healthy and safe and the relationship they’re in.

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Obituary praising Utah man who shot 7 family members removed after backlash