Friday, August 10, 2012

Michael Haynes

Michael Haynes
Tuesday evening March 11, 1986, had been slow at the Washington County Sheriff’s Department in Hillsboro, Oregon. There had only been the routine calls such as domestic disputes that had gotten out of hand, reports of prowlers, a few medical emergencies that had been inadvertently misdirected to the law enforcement agency and the usual traffic accidents. It had been a typical weeknight evening, and as the clock slowly approached midnight and a change of shift, it looked like it would be continuing this way as Wednesday morning ticked into being. As the graveyard shift dispatcher settled into his chair and comfortably positioned his headset, he nodded goodnight to the swing shift deputy and pulled out a new paperback mystery and placed it in front of him. As he raised the coffee cup to his heavily mustachioed lips, he patted his shirt in an absent, searching gesture until he found the half-empty pack of cigarettes. As he struck a match to light one, his headset began to gently beep as the light on the console rapidly blinked in front of him, and he intuitively knew that he would not do much reading.
“Nine-one-one, sheriff’s office,” the dispatcher said. There was a moment of silence, then a burst of rapid breathing and moaning. It was unnerving enough that the dispatcher quickly forgot about his paperback.
“Please…help…me…,” said a weak, but strained, female voice. “I’ve been shot…” The voice trailed off, but the dispatcher could still hear the caller breathing. Immediately attentive and fearing he may not get all, or any, of the information he needed from the caller, the dispatcher quickly began call tracing procedures and asked that another deputy take over the console to handle routine calls for him while he dealt with the life-threatening emergency.
“Can you give me your location and your name?” asked the dispatcher. But there was no reply, only the continued breathing. He repeatedly asked for information, to no avail. At one point he thought he heard the faint cries of an infant. He wondered if it, too, had been shot, and found himself hoping that the assailant would not harm the child if he was still inside the residence. The thought made his tension rise a few more percentage points and beads of perspiration burst out of his forehead.
As the dispatcher waited for the trace to be completed, a hard fist of anxiety grew in his stomach. Although barely a minute had passed, it seemed like eternity. Finally, however, the dispatcher had the information he’d been seeking and he sent deputies as well as medical assistance to a house located in the 4700 block of Southwest 200th Avenue in nearby Aloha, a community sandwiched halfway between Beaverton and Hillsboro.
When the deputies arrived they surveyed the scene to make sure it was safe. Once satisfied that they and any innocent bystanders were not in any immediate or apparent danger, they moved toward the house. Noting that a front window had been broken out, they entered the residence.
With their guns drawn in case the armed assailant was still inside the house, the deputies made a cursory examination of the interior as they moved slowly from room to room. They soon found a man who appeared to be in his mid-40s, dead from an apparent gunshot wound to his chest. Since he was dead, his body was not moved, although the paramedics were allowed to officially confirm the deputies’ determination.
Moments later they discovered a teenage girl, unconscious and barely breathing. She had multiple wounds to her body and, judging from the puddle beneath her, had lost a lot of blood. Paramedics rushed into the crime scene with the deputies, as they knew they had at least one live victim to treat.
Soon the neighborhood roared with the sound of the Life Flight helicopter, which touched down at a wide place in the road. The girl was carefully, but quickly placed on a gurney and brought outside, an IV attached to one of her arms, and she was placed in the helicopter for the flight to St. Vincent Hospital only moments away.
In an adjacent room, the deputies found a crying baby boy, only a few months old. When they approached the infant they noticed a strong smell of urine and surmised that he had not been changed lately. One of the deputies found a box of Huggies nearby and replaced the wet diaper with a dry one. Afterwards, he cradled the baby in his arms until the baby went to sleep.
A short time later, Detective Schultze tentatively identified the victims as Frank J. Mishler, 46, and his daughter, Sarah Rose Mishler, 16, from identification documents and other papers found inside the house. From additional papers and witnesses’ statements, the baby was determined to be Sarah’s.
Schultze and the other investigators wasted no time in canvassing the neighborhood, while details were still fresh in witnesses’ minds. They began at the house next door, where they talked to Tim Hunter and his girlfriend, Belinda Moore.
Hunter told Schultze that he had spent the evening studying with his girlfriend. At about 12:30 a.m., he said he heard “five thumps in a row,” but did not immediately think anything of the noise. He said he realized a short time later, though, that the sounds must have been gunshots.
When asked to provide a more detailed account, Hunter said he first heard three shots, then two, perhaps three more within a minute or so. He then heard a loud vehicle leave quickly from the area, and he didn’t notice anything else until sheriff’s deputies arrived about 10 or 15 minutes later. Hunter told the detective that he did not know the Mishlers, and that his girlfriend knew them only slightly.
Schultze next talked with Sam Amason, another neighbor of the Mishlers. Amason said he had been acquainted with Frank Mishler, but didn’t know Sarah at all. Amason related that he’d just gone to bed when the shootings occurred, and he didn’t hear any of the shots and probably wouldn’t have known anything about the shootings if he hadn’t been awakened by the sirens and the helicopter.
The child was soon placed in the custody of the Children Services Division, until such time that it could be determined where to place him. The first priority would be to try and place him with a close relative. If those efforts failed, the baby would be placed in a foster home.
One of the deputies went out to his patrol car to notify his superiors of the grim discovery found inside the Aloha home. He used his radio, risking media discovery of the crime, because he didn’t want to destroy fingerprints on the telephone inside the house by touching it, even though it seemed unlikely that the perpetrator would have stopped long enough to make a call. The deputy was instructed to secure the crime scene and remain there until a team of homicide detectives arrived.
When Washington County Sheriff Bill Probstfield arrived at the scene, it was obvious that he’d been awakened from a restful sleep. As he entered the crime scene, however, a vein in his forehead swelled like a thick, black snake as his face took on a more intense look. His dark, watchful eyes missed nothing as he observed the man’s body, and his face soon became firmly set in deep thought as he tried to make some sense out of what had happened here.
Among those present at the crime scene were Detective Louis B. Schultze, a deputy prosecutor, a member of the state medical examiner’s office and crime lab technicians from the Oregon State Police crime lab. As each of the officials made their observations and performed their duties, their eyes held blank stares so no one could read their minds. They took individual notes which they could later compare to determine if each had reached the same or similar conclusions as to what had actually happened.
In addition to the male body, there was considerable evidence at the scene, including a live round of ammunition for a high-powered rifle. Because of the discovery of the live round and the massive injuries the victims had sustained, the investigators surmised that a rifle, perhaps a .30-06, had been used. They wouldn’t know that for certain, however, until after the autopsy was conducted, at which time the bullets would be removed.
As they processed the house, the investigators were careful not to disturb anything that could in some way serve to reconstruct the scene or perhaps lead to and/or confirm the identity of the perpetrator. They didn’t smoke inside the house, use the sinks or the bathroom, as they didn’t want to inadvertently add anything to the crime scene that could mislead the investigation or add to the confusion in the house.
In addition to the male body, there was considerable evidence at the scene, including a live round of ammunition for a high-powered rifle. Because of the discovery of the live round and the massive injuries the victims had sustained, the investigators surmised that a rifle, perhaps a .30-06, had been used. They wouldn’t know that for certain, however, until after the autopsy was conducted, at which time the bullets would be removed.
As they processed the house, the investigators were careful not to disturb anything that could in some way serve to reconstruct the scene or perhaps lead to and/or confirm the identity of the perpetrator. They didn’t smoke inside the house, use the sinks or the bathroom, as they didn’t want to inadvertently add anything to the crime scene that could mislead the investigation or add to the confusion in the house.
In order to minimize the loss of information, the investigators took detailed notes of their observations. Among the things they noted was that the doors and windows to the home had been closed and locked. None of the doors had any noticeable damage, although a plate glass window at the front of the home had been broken, leaving a large jagged hole. This appeared to be the killer’s point of entry. The detectives hoped that the killer had touched some of the glass with his bare hands, in which case he likely would have left some identifiable latent fingerprints.
The only noticeable odors inside the house were those caused by the baby, and the smell of gunpowder from the shots that had been fired. It appeared the residents had been in bed or were at least prepared for bed at the time of the break-in, and because of the lack of any noticeable signs of a struggle, they may have been surprised by the intruder.
“(Frank) pretty much kept to himself,” said Amason. “We were very much surprised, because he was a very nice person as far as we knew.” Amason said he believed Mishler and his daughter had lived in the neighborhood for about four or five years.
Another neighbor, Ann Windham, who lived across the street from the Mishler residence, told Schultze that she heard breaking glass about 12:30 a.m. She said she looked out a window only moments later and saw a pickup truck moving quickly away from the home without any lights.
The vehicle was described as a 1973 black, four-wheel drive Dodge “power wagon” pickup with brown doors and a white bed. Although the pickup had been in the neighborhood before, detectives did not immediately get a lead on its owner.
Since there was a vast amount of evidence in the house, particularly in the form of serological and trace evidence, probers remained at the scene throughout the night and next morning, as they collected anything and everything that could be used to aid them in their search for a solid lead.
Blood spatter analysis was performed in the areas where it was determined the victims had been shot. The blood spatters, which were found in several locations in close proximity to each other, turned out to be very important in that they helped place the locations of the victims relative to the killer.
Depending on the velocity and the angle in which a bullet strikes a surface, according to a forensic scientist, blood will leave a very characteristic pattern. For example, if blood is dropped straight down onto a flat surface, as with a cut wound, its shape will be fairly circular. On the other hand, if blood is thrown or sprayed at a high velocity, as is caused by a bullet entering and (sometimes) exiting a body, the blood on the recipient surfaces will vary. Some of the blood will move, or fly, at the same velocity of the bullet that discharged from the victim’s body at speeds of hundreds of feet per second. In this case, the droplets will be quite minute, often almost invisible to the eye, in small teardrop shapes many feet away from the victim’s body.
The point of the blood spatter analysis is that, by using trigonometry and other trajectory methods, investigators can often demonstrate the locations of the persons involved relative to each other, information which can be used to rule out or affirm whether a particular shooting was intentional or an accident. In this case, since there was more than one victim and because multiple shots had been fired, the shootings were clearly intentional, and the blood spatter analysis was done to simply add credence to or diminish the integrity of the theories developed during the course of the investigation. Such evidence is often useful in court.
Before Frank Mishler’s body was moved, a forensic pathologist from the state medical examiner’s office examined it. He concurred that Mishler had died from a gunshot wound to the chest. He said the victim appeared to have been shot only once, but added that he wouldn’t be able to positively make that determination until he performed an autopsy. Mishler’s body was then taken from the residence and sent to the Washington County morgue in Hillsboro.
During the next several hours, criminalists collected extensive blood samples from the Mishler home and removed areas of blood-soaked carpet to be analyzed at the crime lab. Fingerprint experts also processed the house, and they found many latent prints at various locations. Many of the prints were identifiable. Just how many, if any, would be useful to the case would not be known for some time. All the prints would have to be compared with those of the victims and to all of those who participated in the processing of the crime scene or otherwise took part in the investigation.
Meanwhile, according to Sherre Calouri, public information officer for the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Sarah Mishler underwent extensive surgery that lasted more than five hours at St. Vincent Hospital and was listed in critical condition. Calouri said Sarah had been shot three times in the chest and had also been shot in the left thigh and right leg. Sarah remained unconscious.
In their attempts to reconstruct the last 24 hours of Frank Mishler’s life, as well as Sarah’s activities, the detectives re-interviewed the victims’ neighbors and contacted friends, acquaintances, co-workers and relatives.
The sleuths learned that Frank had reported for work as usual at his job at Tektronix, Incorporated, a Beaverton high-technology firm, where he’d worked since 1958, and he left at his usual time on his last day at work. Frank’s current job had been as requirement analyst with the customer service division, said a corporate public relations manager for the company who described the victim as a “very special person.”
Everyone at Tektronix was shocked at Frank Mishler’s murder, and no one the investigators talked to could understand why someone would want to kill him. He was described as kind, well-mannered and liked by everyone.
Relatives likewise described Frank as a likeable person and easygoing for the most part. According to one relative, however, Frank was very upset when Sarah became pregnant, but he supported her in her desire to keep the child and helped her care for the infant. He hadn’t liked her boyfriend, 19-year-old Michael Haynes, father of the child, and he tried to discourage Sarah from seeing him. But she continued to see Haynes any¬way, and he tried to get along with him for Sarah’s and the baby’s sake.
Detectives made several attempts to locate Michael Haynes, but failed in their efforts. They learned that he had a relative living in Hillsboro, and they followed up that lead with an interview. The relative, however, said he didn’t know where Michael was, although he had seen him recently. As a result of the interview, though, investigators learned of two Portland locations where Haynes apparently was living alternating between the two as he saw fit.
Following up with interviews at the two Portland locations, where they learned substantial background information on Haynes, the detectives again failed in their efforts to locate him. They did, however, learn that he was recently driving a 1973 Dodge “power wagon” pickup that fit the description of the vehicle seen speeding away, without any lights, from the crime scene. As a result, sleuths wanted to talk to Haynes more than ever and they stepped up their efforts to locate him.
After conferring with the Department of Motor Vehicles, investigators determined that the pickup Haynes was believed driving had Oregon license plate DTB 874. The Washington County lawmen immediately issued an APB for Haynes and the pickup, and described him as the prime suspect in the murder of Frank Mishler and the attempted murder of Sarah Mishler, warning that he may be armed and dangerous.
Meanwhile, Detective Schultze and his investigators received a tip from a 16-year-old Portland girl. She told the sleuths that Haynes had called her the day after the shootings. When pressed for details, she said that Haynes had made some incriminating statements about the shootings. Specifics of the conversation were not made available.
Additional inquiries into Haynes’ background revealed that he’d recently worked at a local auto glass shop. The owner told lawmen that Haynes had worked for him during the week prior to the shootings. He described Haynes as a hard worker who was dependable, but added that Haynes had problems related to his girlfriend, Sarah. Part of the problem, said the owner, was that Mishler disliked or disapproved of Haynes. The owner told detectives that he had known Haynes for approximately a year, and that Haynes and Sarah had been seeing each other during that time frame. “He cared a lot about her,” he added.
The investigators clocked a good deal of overtime working on the case, particularly during the first 48 hours, perhaps the most critical time frame of such an investigation. They drank quarts of coffee, ate their meals at their gray steel government type desks or in their cars between interviews with potential witnesses and, if they had the time, they occasionally called home to chat with their families.
During all of Wednesday, March 12th, state highway patrolmen as well as other police agencies in all the western states, kept a sharp lookout for the suspect and the vehicle he was believed driving. All the state and federal highways and the interstates were carefully watched, as were all the main arteries into the various towns and cities. But in spite of the APBs and the beefed-up efforts of all the law enforcement agencies involved in finding Michael Haynes, neither he nor his vehicle was spotted during the first 30 hours of the investigation.
Later that day, about 10 p.m., a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer working out of the Garberville office, spotted an apparently abandoned vehicle on U.S. 101, the Pacific Coast Highway, near Miranda, located about 60 miles south of Eureka near the Humbolt State Park.
According to Jim Shalle, CHP spokesman, the officer noted that the vehicle, a pickup, fit the description of one that appeared in the APB issued earlier that day. When the officer checked the license number, he confirmed it was the vehicle believed to be driven by Haynes.
The truck, the officer learned, was registered to a relative of Haynes. Since the pickup was believed to have been used by the prime suspect in a homicide and an attempted murder, the CHP officer did not attempt to search, move, or otherwise disturb it. Instead, he reported what he’d found and, aside from recording the obvious facts and observations, he left the rest of the details to the homicide investigators and crime lab personnel. As a result, it was not immediately known if the vehicle had broken down or had simply run out of gasoline.
After performing their routine duties at the scene of the pickup’s abandonment, such as photographing it in the condition and location it was found in, the investigators had the vehicle removed to a more appropriate facility in Garberville. There it would be gone over more thoroughly in search of clues.
Following its extensive processing, particularly the search and collection of minute or trace evidence, the pickup was placed in a secure location where it was kept until it was no longer needed as evidence. It was not revealed if anything of significance was found inside the pickup. In fact, most of the details surrounding the case were not made public at the time. Much of the information was obtained from documents filed in court, such as arrest and search warrants and any information filed by the district attorney’s office. It was disclosed, however, that Haynes had a close relative living in San Pablo, located just north of San Francisco, and investigators suspected he may have been headed there.
As they made arrangements to follow that avenue of the investigation by going to the relative’s home, the unexpected happened. According to Detective Larry Hunt of the San Pablo Police Department, Michael Haynes walked into headquarters at about 2:15 p.m., accompanied by the relative investigators were planning to officially visit, and surrendered.
Haynes, wearing casual clothes, was quietly taken into custody on charges of murder and aggravated assault. He was advised of his constitutional rights, booked and placed in a cell. The suspect was subsequently transferred to the Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez, located on the east side of San Francisco Bay. According to authorities there, Haynes was held without bail until his arraign¬ment and the initiation of extradition proceedings.
In the meantime, on Sunday, March 17th, at 12:15 p.m., Sarah Rose Mishler died in St. Vincent Hospital’s Cardiac Recovery Room, from multiple systems failure resulting from the gunshot wounds to the chest that she had sustained. Hospital officials said she had remained in critical condition until her death and that she had never re-gained consciousness.
After being informed of Sarah’s death, Michael Haynes wept pitifully in his jail cell where he waited for word on his extradition hearing and whether the Washington County District Attorney’s Office would amend the aggravated assault charge to aggravated murder. If they did amend the charges, Haynes would become a candidate for the death penalty.
According to Robert Hermann, Washington County deputy district attorney, the case “slipped into the realm of aggravated murder,” when Sarah Mishler died. Under Oregon law, said Hermann, one definition of aggravated murder is the killing of more than one person; there was also the possibility that burglary was involved in the ordeal, and killing someone while committing another felony is another theory of aggravated murder.
Two days later, Haynes appeared in Bay Municipal Court, accompanied by an attorney, where he said he would not waive his right to challenge the extradition request, according to Robert J. Kochly, senior deputy district attorney for Costra County. The extradition hearing was scheduled for the following week.
At his extradition hearing, Haynes apparently had a change of mind and said in court that he would not fight his return to Oregon, thereby waiving his right to challenge Oregon’s extradition request. The news of his statement was made available to Oregon authorities. Washington County Undersheriff Gerry Sargeant said Detective Louis Schultze, lead investigator on the case, would travel to California to make the necessary arrangements for Haynes’ return and would physically accompany the suspect.
Shortly after his return to Oregon, Haynes was named in an eight-count indictment returned by a Washington County grand jury, which included two counts of aggravated murder. Haynes was being held without bail, and was represented by Portland attorneys Phil M. Kelley and Tommy Hawk.
At his arraignment on Friday, April 18th, Robert Hermann of the district attorney’s office presented evidence to show a “strong presumption” that Haynes was guilty of the crimes with which he was charged. Among the evidence provided was a tape recording of Sarah Mishler’s call to Washington County’s 9-1-1 emergency number following the shooting, only moments before she lost consciousness. Other evidence included autopsy results by Dr. Larry V. Lewman, acting state medical examiner, who determined that Sarah and her father had both died as a result of their wounds, and the testimony of the 16-year-old Portland girl who told investigators she received a call from Haynes the day after the shootings, in which he purportedly made some incriminating remarks.
After Circuit Judge Donald C. Ashmanskas ruled that the state had met its burden showing “proof is evident or the presumption strong” that the defendant is guilty, he refused to set bail for the suspect. Haynes subsequently pleaded innocent to the charges.
Haynes’ case never made it to trial, however. Faced with the insurmountable evidence against him and the possibility of the death penalty, Michael Haynes, accompanied by his attorneys, appeared again before Judge Ashmanskas on Friday, December 12th. He pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated murder as part of a plea bargain in return for which the district attorney’s office agreed not to seek the death penalty. As part of the agreement, seven other counts would be dismissed against Haynes.
In a written statement attached to his plea agreement, Haynes said he shot Frank and Sarah Mishler after they had refused to let him see his baby son.
“When Sarah and Frank would not allow me to see my son (they had refused to allow me to see him on other occasions in the past),” said Haynes’ statement, “and after Frank made statements to me which caused me to be concerned about my son’s physical welfare, I became very angry. I left the home, obtained a rifle, returned to the Mishler residence, broke into their home and shot Frank and Sarah.”
On Friday, December 19, 1986, Mi¬chael Robert Haynes was sentenced by Judge Ashmanskas to life in prison without possibility of parole for 30 years. Haynes showed little emotion at the sentence, but an unidentified female specta¬tor cried, “I love you, Mike,” as he was led from the courtroom. Haynes is now serving his sentence at Oregon State Penitentiary.
Editor’s Note:
Tim Hunter, Belinda Moore, Ann Windham and Sam Arnason are not the real names of the persons so named in the foregoing story. Fictitious names have been used because there is no reason for public interest in the identities of these persons.


  1. My name is Brett Harper, originally Robert Lee Haynes. This story is about my mother and father and me. My life is full of some pretty crazy stories. I want to write some of them out. I would like to maybe sit down with the author of this sometime if I may? My email is 503-307-6784

  2. I went to Jr High with Mike. He was my friend. I spent many nights at his house and knew the Mike many never saw. I hope that Mike gets some chance at some kind of a life as he never had much of a life when we were growing up. I'd reach out to him, and hope to help him salvage some life out of the few years he has. If you want to know or have questions. My name is Rich I knew Mike's family, his brothers David and Kenny and his sister Cherlene, as well as his parents. My email is

  3. I didn't know Sarah well, but we went to high school together. We would hang out together in PE class. I remember her as a really nice person, and always think of her when I hear a certain song on the radio, and wonder what had happened to her, as school gossip is never complete. Thank you for sharing her story.

    1. I'm her son. Thank you. Bless your heart. She sounds like she was a sweet woman. I wish I could have gotten to know her. May she RIP