Man pleads not guilty to killing wife in cold case

23-year-old Bonnie Haim disappeared 22 years ago; remains found in 2014

Bonnie Haim

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man accused of killing his wife 22 years ago and burying her in the backyard of their Jacksonville home pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Michael Haim is charged with second-degree murder and is being held without bond. Haim will have a bond hearing at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Police brought Haim from North Carolina to Jacksonville to face the murder charge after human remains found last December were determined to be those of Bonnie Haim.

Investigators and the victim's family always suspected Michael Haim when his 23-year-old wife disappeared after an argument in their Westside home in 1993. 

"That was the piece of the puzzle that we really felt we were missing," JSO Director Mike Bruno said when he announced the arrest. "There are so many unsolved or cold cases that are in this same situation of we just need that one clue, that one tip, that one piece. Here, we were able to get it, and to start that piece of closure."

U.S. marshals arrested Michael Haim Aug. 24 in Waynesville, North Carolina, where he had been living with family. He was extradited to Jacksonville and waived his first court appearance on the murder charge.

Bonnie Haim's son, Aaron Haim, was 3 years old when she disappeared. Police said he was the primary witness in the case. In April 2005, Aaron Haim, who now goes by Aaron Fraser, won a $26.3 million wrongful death lawsuit against his father. At the time, his mother's remains had not been found.

That changed in December 2014 when workers digging out an old pool in the back yard of the Dolphin Avenue home where Haim lived 22 years ago found what appeared to be a skull. Investigators spent the next two days sifting through the dirt for more evidence.

Weeks later, the remains were confirmed to be human. In August, the medical examiner confirmed the were the remains of Bonnie Haim.

"We'd love to have (the DNA confirmation) faster, but we definitely want to have it right," Bruno said.

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

An arrest warrant was issued for Michael Haim on Aug. 21, and he was arrested with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service on Aug. 24.

"We are now at the point where we believe we can seek justice with a murder charge and we intend to proceed on what -- as you are probably aware -- will be circumstantial case, but one that we will work diligently to prosecute in court," State Attorney Angela Corey said when the announcement was made of the arrest. "I think this shows that our cold case unit is just a vital part of what we do in law enforcement and they will always have the support of the State Attorney's Office."

Corey said it was gratifying to have a cold case that she had been part of for more than 20 years solved. She said she worked the case with former JSO Detective Robert Hinson, who is now an investigator with the State Attorney's Office.