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Attorney: 'Excruciating' for family in cold case

Michael Haim charged with murder of Bonnie Haim, who disappeared in 1993

Bonnie Haim
Bonnie Haim

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville police say they've solved a 22-year-old cold case, involving the disappearance of a local mother.

Bonnie Haim, 23, vanished from her Northside home in 1993. Her husband, Michael Haim, was a suspect but police didn't have enough evidence to make an arrest, until this week.

Detectives recently confirmed that human remains found in December behind the couple's former home were those of the missing woman.

U.S. marshals arrested Michael Haim Monday night in North Carolina. He's charged with murder.

An attorney who has represented Bonnie Haim's family for decades said he's always had his concerns about Michael Haim.

J. Michael Lindell has been involved in cases against Michael Haim for about 20 years. He said that now, Bonnie Haim's family is one step closer to closure.

Lindell still has all the case documents two decades after he first got involved. He's represented the family of Bonnie Haim in a couple different cases since the mid-1990s.  

Bonnie Haim
Bonnie Haim

IMAGES: The cold-case disappearance of Bonnie Haim
COURT DOCUMENT: $26.3 million judgment against Michael Haim
VIDEO FROM THE ARCHIVES: January 1993: Bonnie Haim missing |
January 1993: Mary Bear interviews Michael Haim |
April 2005: Haim's sister on judgment against Michael Haim

It started when Michael sued to try to cash out his stock in his uncle's company, just a few months after Bonnie disappeared.

"That case progressed for a while, and I got hired by the uncle, Bernie Haim, to defend the case," Lindell said. "(Michael Haim) was still in town at that time and later on moved to Tennessee."

Police suspected Michael Haim in his wife's disappearance, but he wasn't charged. Police didn't have the evidence.

But there was a witness, police said. Michael and Bonnie Haim's young son, Aaron, told detectives that he saw his father shoot his mother..

"The remarkable thing that has come out is that the minor child, at a very young age, witnessed the events," Lindell said. "He was between 3 and 4 years of age. He was able to recall those in sufficient detail to convince the court in a termination of parental rights proceeding that the father had indeed procured the death of the mother."

Lindell used that testimony in a civil case against Michael Haim, filed in 2003. Two years later, after it went to trial, a judge ruled that Michael was responsible for his wife's wrongful death.

"There was a standard of proof in the civil case that was not as onerous as the criminal standard of 'beyond a reasonable doubt,'" Lindell explained.

The judge ordered Michael Haim to hand over his north Jacksonville house and his share of the family company's stock options to Aaron. The judgment was for more than $26 million, although it's money Michael never had.

In December 2014, workers digging out an old pool in the backyard of the Dolphin Avenue home where the Haims lived 22 years ago found what appeared to be a skull. This month, the DNA was matched to Bonnie Haim, leading to Michael Haim's arrest for her murder.

"For the family, it was just excruciating, knowing in their mind who had procured her absence and death," Lindell said. "And yet having to wait for events to develop like they have -- and of course, a premature prosecution could have led to an acquittal, which would have been much worse."

Bonnie Haim's sister told News4Jax that she was relieved to hear about the arrest. She said it's an emotional time for her family and has been a lot to take in.

Michael Haim remained in jail in North Carolina on Wednesday, but he will soon be brought to jail in Jacksonville.