Son’s backyard discovery could solve mystery of slain mom - 26 years later

Jury to decide if husband is guilty of murder

JACKSONVILLE, FL (CNN) - A jury will soon deliberate in the case of a Florida man accused of killing his wife more than 25 years ago.

Officials say the case was broken by the couple's own son, who made a gruesome discovery in the backyard of his childhood home.

By her family's own words, 23-year-old Bonnie Haim was a loving mother, daughter and sister who in January 1993 suddenly vanished, leaving behind her 3-year-old son, Aaron.

Bonnie's husband, Michael Haim, has always maintained his wife walked out on him following an argument.

"Basically, she wasn't happy, and she wanted to leave. And I couldn't really stop her from leaving," Michael Haim said.

Bonnie Haim was never seen again. Her disappearance was profiled in a 1994 episode of unsolved mysteries.

The program focused on a startling revelation a young Aaron made to Florida's Child Protective Services, saying, "Daddy hurt her."

"From what Aaron told us that day, my only conclusion was that there had been a domestic fight and that Michael Haim had killed his wife and removed her," said Detective Robert Hinson, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, "and that their 3 1/2-year-old son Aaron Haim had witnessed this."

But with limited evidence and no body, there was little police could do. Aaron was adopted, and his mother's case went cold for decades.

Then in 2014, police were called to the former Haim family home, finding the once-little boy of 21 years ago now grown up and going by his adopted name, Aaron Fraser.

Aaron had recently acquired the home and was renovating it, digging up the pool. He discovered some plastic sheeting with what he thought was a coconut wrapped inside.

"I picked up the coconut object and it ended up being the top portion of her skull," said Fraser, speaking on the witness stand.

Tests would confirm he had found the remains of his own mother. Prosecutors say authorities also recovered a .22-caliber shell casing.

Michael Haim, now 52, is on trial for murder. His attorney still maintains he had nothing to do with his wife's death.

"In this case, the lack of evidence is just as important - if not more important - than the evidence you will hear," said Janice Warren, defense attorney.

Just before the trial began, Bonnie Haim's sister posted online what it means for her family:

"It is going to rip off bandages and expose us to things we had long ago pushed to the back of our memories. But sometimes we have to rip off bandages to really begin to heal."

For Aaron Fraser, the trial is his chance to finish the story he first told when he was 3, the remarkable truth of how he lost and eventually found his mother.

Copyright 2019 CNN. WJXT contributed to the report. All rights reserved.