“I didn’t really talk to her in the last four or five years,” Case said.
So he said it “was unbelievable” when the FBI informed him there was a hitman or murder-for-hire scheme by his ex-mother-in-law, Sandra Haughawout, that targeted him. On Oct. 1, Haughawout, 70, of Perrin Road, Milan, pleaded guilty to felony solicitation to commit a crime of violence in Toledo’s U.S. District Court, according to court records.
Haughawout faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Judge James Carr set Haughawout’s sentencing for Feb. 4 and according to the docket, her detention will continue in the meantime.
Case was asked what his emotional reaction was upon learning about the scheme from the FBI.
“I mostly laughed about it. I was kinda like, ‘Wow. I knew they hated me, but I didn’t know they hated me that much,’” said Case, who asked a FBI agent about the timing.
“He says, ‘Well, they didn’t want you dead for a month. Do you know why that would be?’ I said, ‘Yes because the next week … is to begin the mother’s two-week summer vacation. What better time to have me killed than when I don’t have the boys around?’”
The FBI agent said “’we got a call that she wanted you killed immediately,’” Case said. “‘Of course we immediately arrested her, thinking that she might get someone else or something,’” he added, quoting the agent.
Case said “there’s no doubt in mind that Sandra Haughawout picked the day of having me killed” based around a time when he wouldn’t have his sons with him. He planned a working vacation while driving truck.
“Then of course when they asked me, ‘Well, why did she want you killed as soon as possible?,’ I said she caught wind that I wasn’t going to be around and you can’t very well kill somebody if they’re not in town for a couple weeks,” Case said.
Arrest, court hearings
Haughawout was arrested in June after she contracted with a “hitman” — who was actually an undercover FBI agent — to have Case killed, according to a criminal complaint.
She offered the agent $8,000 up front and another $2,000 after the “deed” was done, according to the complaint. Haughawout reportedly met the agent, who was wearing audio and video recording equipment, and showed him Case’s picture and his home, vehicles and where he worked.
She also allegedly told the man to use the code phrase he “had put the dog down” to signal a successful killing, the complaint states.
Case said the FBI came upon the scheme while doing another investigation during Ohio Bike Week in Sandusky.
“They were already involved in another operation,” Case said. “He said it was explained to me, ‘No sir. It’s lucky it’s one of our agents she contacted. Otherwise there are a lot of bad dudes (who) do this for a living and we would be investigating a murder right now.’
“That’s the part that as a victim, I have to live with, even though I have to be strong enough for my boys. Their happiness is all I care about.”
After being arrested, Haughawout was held in the Lucas County Corrections Center before being moved to a facility in Napoleon. She was formally charged Sept. 11 and entered an initial plea of “not guilty” six days later to murder for hire.
‘Only sorry she was caught’
During a Dec. 6 hearing, Haughawout’s attorney, Dave Klucas, of Toledo, filed a motion and supporting memorandum to have his client released from custody. Klucas wrote that Haughawout wanted to be with her family for the holidays and noted that the estimated prison term is “likely a life sentence” and “she does not deserve to die in prison.”
The defense attorney offered the following stipulations: Haughawout posting a $300,000 bond and then being placed on electronically-monitored house arrest with curfew and home-confinement restrictions. Klucas also stipulated that his client would complete a mental health assessment and have no contact with the victim, Case.
U.S. Attorney Tracey Ballard Tangeman countered with a memorandum pointing to the seriousness of the crime and Haughawout’s alleged lack of remorse.
“A very serious, violent crime” would have been committed by Haughawout and “would have resulted in an individual’s murder” if authorities hadn’t been “tipped off,” according to the court document. Ballard Tangeman also wrote that Haughawout “told FBI agents that ‘she was not sorry for what she did,’ she believes the victim is ‘satan’ and ‘she wanted him dead’” since that reportedly was the only way for her daughter to have custody of her sons.
“In other words, she still wants the victim dead and was only sorry she was caught,” she wrote in the court document.
Case said he told the judge there are three reasons to not release Haughawout on bond.
“I’m still alive, I still have custody (of my sons) and her daughter is still miserable — so what’s changed?,” said the man, who believes his ex-mother-in-law still wishes he were dead while she is behind bars.
“She hates me more than she loves her kids,” Case said referring to his ex-wife. “I was granted custody of the kids from the beginning and never lost them. … I just stayed with her because I could not leave my boys aside.”
Court records reflect Haughawout said her daughter was having a dispute with Case over custody of the children.
During his ex-wife’s time with their sons, Case said his ex-wife reportedly has said she wanted him dead or assaulted.
“That’s all they endured the entire time there — was negative talk about me or that their mother wished I was dead. ‘I wish someone would kill him. I wish somebody would beat him up,’” he added.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Brandon Addeo of Tandem Media Network contributed to this story.