Aaron Fraser’s mother, Bonnie Haim, went missing in Jacksonville, Florida, when he was 3 years old. It was 1993, and at the time he reportedly told child welfare services, “Daddy hurt mommy.” And though his dad, Michael Haim, became a prime suspect in Bonnie’s disappearance, the investigation went cold.
Twenty-one years later, while doing renovations to his childhood home, Fraser discovered a human skull — later identified as his mother’s. In 2015, Michael Haim was charged with Bonnie’s murder. His trial started this week.
“The truth was always out there, buried in their backyard,” Assistant State Attorney Alan Mizrahi said in opening statements on Tuesday, according to CNN.
Michael Haim has consistently maintained his innocence, and the defense insists that there’s not enough evidence to link him to the skeleton in the backyard. Fraser’s childhood memories will likely be a major part of the case against his biological father, according CNN; prosecutors also say that Haim was abusive to his wife, and that she was trying to save up and move into an apartment with her son, per CBS. (Fraser was raised by adoptive parents after his mother’s disappearance.)
“Michael Haim was the last known individual to have contact with victim,” reads an arrest affidavit from 2015. “The suspect admits that he and the victim were fighting over marital issues and that she was planning to leave and take their child.”
Haim, meanwhile, has claimed that his wife ran off with another man, leaving their son behind. His defense lawyer, Janis Warren, still introduced the idea of another romantic partner being involved in her disappearance — and death — during her opening statements, according to CNN.
But the prosecutor in the case is putting stock in Aaron Fraser’s words.
“He was going to just pretend Bonnie ran off and left her 3-year-old behind,” said Mizrahi during his opening statements. “But all the privacy in the world couldn’t stop Aaron, just 3.5, sitting in the child protection team’s office disclosing what his little eyes saw: That his dad was responsible.”