She awoke in the dead of night to a strange noise. Maggie Haines, a 20-year-old student at Bucknell University, who was home from college at her parents' house, heard a "scuffling sound" coming from her 16-year-old brother Kevin's bedroom. The time was 2:20 a.m. Entering her parents' room to investigate, Maggie saw her father lying on the bed. Her mother, Lisa, 47, was sitting slumped on the edge of the bed. In a low, calm voice Lisa said simply to her daughter, "Go get help." Maggie turned and raced down the hallway, out of her house and across the street to a neighbor's, where she called 911.
But by the time police arrived at the two-story colonial at 85 Peach Lane in Lancaster, Pa., five to 10 minutes later that night of May 12, it was already too late. As a near-hysterical Maggie stood screaming outside, officers checking inside found a sickening slaughter: Lisa, a teacher at a local preschool, had suffered one fatal stab wound to the abdomen; father Tom Haines, 50, a running enthusiast and salesman for an industrial supplies company, had been stabbed to death multiple times in the chest; Kevin, an outstanding student at Manheim Township High School, had also been stabbed in the chest, and his throat had been slashed. The only thing clear—then and now—was that it was a crime as uncommonly mysterious as it was savage. "There were puddles of blood everywhere," says Allen Means, a bloodhound handler who, along with his partner and wife, Patti, was brought in to assist in the investigation with their dogs Nellie and Bo.
The murders immediately sent ripples of fear throughout the normally tranquil community of manicured lawns and well-kept homes in Lancaster County. "It's really scary to see your parents scared and your friends' parents closing doors and turning lights on," says one of Kevin's classmates. "I used to ride my bike all around town, and now my parents won't let me."
In many ways the Haineses seemed especially unlikely victims. Maggie once told a friend that her family considered themselves so hyper-normal that they playfully referred to themselves as the Cleavers, after the serene family in the 1950s TV sitcom. Pretty soon neighbors began calling them the Cleavers as well. On his frequent runs through the neighborhood, Tom, who was a former trustee of a local Methodist church, would always give a cheery wave hello. "You can't imagine nicer people," says Chris Herr, who had known Tom for more than 30 years. "Unassuming, just very pleasant."
Investigators have a few clues to go on. Police believe that the killer or killers entered the house through the garage door, which the Haines often left open. (It is not unusual for some families in town to leave their doors unlocked, even at night.) The house had not been ransacked and nothing was apparently taken. In a bloodstain on one carpet, says a source, police found a footprint from a male shoe with a detailed tread pattern. The French doors in the rear of the house were found standing open, leading authorities to assume that the killer or killers fled that way. But at a press conference, police chief Neil Harkins, who quickly called in the FBI and state police for assistance, said there was much they did not know. "We're keeping an open mind to all possibilities," he said.
It appeared, however, that whoever committed the crime had a getaway planned out in advance. When Means and his wife turned their bloodhounds loose, the dogs were able to track the scent for several miles through yards and fields, stopping near a burger joint popular with teens called the Freeze and Frizz, where a car was likely parked. "The killer's adrenaline was really high because the dogs picked up a strong fear scent," he says. According to Means, an investigator also told him police had reason to believe that the killer had not expected to find Maggie at the house; she'd returned from college the day before.
In the days after the murder, police spent a good deal of effort going back over the lives of the three victims, searching for any irregularity or scrap of information that might suggest a motive. Neighbors said that the Haineses, while unfailingly cordial, tended to keep to themselves and not share many personal details. But friends described Lisa as gentle and laid-back. "She was the softie," says one source who knew her well. "She was very nurturing."
A standout runner in high school and at Slippery Rock University, Tom kept up his training regimen into adulthood, running with Maggie and completing the Boston Marathon in a very fast 2 hours and 42 minutes. He also loved spending time in the garden, but according to longtime friend Dave Hummel his greatest delight was being with his wife and two kids. "Everything about him was for his family," says Hummel. All the same, according to one knowledgeable source, police looked into an alleged dispute Tom was having with someone in town that might have had some bearing on the case—but ruled it out.
By the same token, authorities were questioning many students at Kevin's high school on the chance that someone might have harbored a grudge, or knew someone who did. A Boy Scout and a whip-smart academic star, Kevin wrote quirky opinion pieces for the school paper on subjects ranging from coins to the environment. His greatest passion was for Quiz Bowl, a trivia game that involves after-school practices and tryouts. As a sophomore, Kevin had earned the distinction of making it as an alternate on the school's Quiz Bowl A team. Amid many rumors at the school, there was talk of Kevin having trouble with another student; police did question one student with scratches on his arms, but he is not considered a suspect.
Given the circumstances, police were providing protection for Maggie, who is staying with other family members. One friend, Sami Hernandez, who bumped into Maggie at a drugstore not long after the murders, describes her as a "complete wreck." "She basically collapsed in my arms when I went to give her a hug," says Hernandez. "You could see she was so frazzled and just completely in shock." Nor has the sense of horror dissipated among the residents near the crime scene, where they wonder how long it will be before their nightmare can be laid to rest. Says neighbor Esther Mast, as she looks dolefully over at the wilting pink peonies in the Haineses' yard: "I just wish we knew something—anything."
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