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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Radcliffe Haughton: The Wisconsin Hair Salon Mass Murder-Suicide

     Radcliffe F. Haughton, a 45-year-old former Marine who lived in Brown Deer, Wisconsin outside of Milwaukee, was estranged from his wife Zina. He resided with their 13-year-old daughter. Zina Haughton and her 20-year-old daughter from another marriage worked as hair dressers at the Azana Salon and Spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin located across the street from the massive Brookfield Square Mall eleven miles west of downtown Milwaukee.

     Radcliffe had moved to the Milwaukee area ten years ago from Cook County, Illinois where he had grown up in the Chicago suburban communities of Northbrook and Wheeling. When he departed Illinois he left behind a history of arrests for disorderly conduct and domestic violence. In Brown Deer  he became known to the local police who arrested him several times for similar offenses.

     In January 2011, Zina called the police when Radcliffe threw her clothing out a window, and poured tomato juice on her car. Officers came to the house and set up a perimeter. They saw him through a window holding a rifle. He refused to come out of the house. After a 90-minute standoff, the officers left the scene without taking him into custody. He was later charged with disturbing the police, but the charges were dropped after he agreed to anger management counseling.

     On October 2, 2012, police officers were called to a gas station in Brown Deer where they found Zina Haughton barefoot and badly bruised in the face. She reported that she had been assaulted by her husband who had threatened to kill her. Officers went to the house where they spotted Radcliffe through a window. Again, he refused to come out of the dwelling. Instead of arresting him for physically abusing his wife, the police departed.

     Two days later, when Zina Haughton approached her car in the hair salon parking lot, she discovered that someone had slashed her tires. The next day, the police arrested Radcliffe and charged him with disorderly conduct and destruction of property. That day, Zina acquired a temporary restraining order against him. The 42-year-old embattled wife also petitioned the court for a permanent protection decree. In her request for a permanent injunction, Zina said that Radcliffe was convinced she was cheating on him. In a jealous rage, he had threatened to kill her by setting her on fire. He had also promised to kill her if she reported his threats to the police. She said she feared for her life. On October 18, the judge issued an order requiring Radcliffe to avoid contact with his wife for a period of four years. (What good are restraining orders against husbands who are insanely jealous, outraged, violent, and out of control?)

     On Sunday morning, October 21, 2012, Radcliffe Haughton pulled up to the two-story, 9,000-square-foot building that housed the Azana Salon and Spa. He alighted from the taxi cab at 11:09, and walked into the salon armed with a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun. Once inside, he opened fire on the helpless occupants.  Haughton shot seven women inside the salon, killing his wife, and two other women identified as Cary L. Robuck, 35 of Racine, and 38-year-old Maelyn M. Lind from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

     Amid the chaos of women fleeing for their lives as Haughton walked around the salon firing and reloading his pistol, he set a small fire in the building.

     When police officers and SWAT units rolled up to the scene, women were running out of the smoking salon. Haughton escaped out a back door, but when he came around a corner of the building, he saw the police and re-entered the building.

     The four wounded women Haughton had shot, but didn't kill, were rushed to the Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. All of the victims were expected to survive their gunshot wounds.

     At four in the afternoon of the deadly rampage, the police, during the course of a careful search of the building, found the shooter. Radcliffe Haughton had locked himself in a room, and with the pistol he had used on his victims, shot himself in the head.

     As is often the case in murder-suicides, some of the people who knew Radcliffe Haughton told reporters that he was a nice and friendly guy. These folks were shocked that he could do such a thing. In reality, these people were probably mere acquaintances who didn't know the man that well. Moreover, you can never be sure what is going on in a person's mind, or what he or she is capable of. There seems to be something going on in modern society that is producing more and more of these murder-suicide rampages. They are in the national news for a couple of days then, except for the victims and their families, are forgotten until the next killing spree.

UPDATE

     The following are excerpts of Zina Haughton's testimony at the October 4 hearing in which the abused wife of 20 years petitioned the judge for a temporary restraining order:

"My husband thinks I'm cheating on him. He woke up angry that morning. He was screaming. He told me I wasn't going to work that day unless I gave him all the pass codes to my phone, unless I showed him my bank statements on line for the day of May 29, the evening he thinks I cheated on him. [That evening was] the scariest night of my life...he ran into the basement, and he came upstairs, and he pulled a gun from behind his pants, and it accidentally went off in between me and my daughter's head, about two inches from both of our heads....I never went to the police. The police were randomly called by people who overheard fights, and I've always sent the police away because I never want--I'm not a vindictive person. I love my daughter. I loved my husband. I never wanted to see him taken away, and I never wanted him--I never wanted him to be taken away, but things have gotten so bad. I just--we need to separate. We need a course before you hurt me. Even if it's an accident, I don't want to die. I just don't want to die."

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