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Murderer of Ruth Haut still sought 26 years later

Posted on Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Charlie Reed
For the News-Gazette
It’s been more than 26 years since Kissimmee resident Ruth Haut was murdered, but the killer remains at large.
Her loved ones recently have been looking for new leads to help police finally solve the cold case.
“We want to solve this case. We’re not going to stop,” said Jean Wagner,

Ruth Haut

Haut’s girlfriend at the time of her death.
The two had shared a home in Kissimmee for more than four years.
Haut, a 42-year-old chiropractor, was abducted from her Kissimmee office on the evening of Feb. 26, 1992. Her body was found the next day in an orange grove in St. Cloud. She had been stabbed to death and her throat was slit.
Haut had gone to her office on John Young Parkway for a 7:30 p.m. appointment but never came home. When Wagner got home from work at 10 p.m. and saw Haut wasn’t there, she immediately went to Haut’s office to look for her.
Haut’s car was in the parking lot and her keys were inside the unlocked, lit office; a phone line to the office had been cut, said Wagner, who immediately called police to report Haut missing.
“I was nervous. I didn’t know what the hell was going on,” said Wagner, who spent much of that night answering police questions.
But by the next day, the missing person case had become a murder. Wagner learned that Haut’s body had been discovered from watching the news.
Detectives from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office questioned Wagner several times, she said.
Despite a solid alibi, “I was treated like a criminal,” said Wagner, who believes investigators were biased because she is gay.
ATM receipts found next to Haut’s body led police to a bank in Vero Beach. A camera at the machine captured a picture of someone using Haut’s ATM card. A hooded sweatshirt was pulled tight over the person’s face and they wore latex gloves. Analysis of the tape showed that the suspect was white and stood between 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 6 inches tall.
No money was taken from Haut’s account because she had less than $20 in the account, according to Wagner.
By 1995, investigators named Curtis J. Huff Jr. as the primary suspect. He was already serving time at the state prison in Hardee County for a 1993 attempted murder that occurred during a botched robbery at a Kissimmee motel.
The judge who convicted Huff in that case told him, “My picture of you is someone who is afflicted with deep psychological disturbance and there’s no doubt in my mind that you intended the death of your victim.”
Detectives told the News-Gazette in 1995 that Huff had been a suspect all along and that they had “some things on Ruth’s case that are leading us places.”
The affidavit used to execute a search warrant at Huff’s father’s house in St. Cloud where he lived and to obtain Huff’s DNA, detailed why he was the primary suspect.
It reveals some of the most damning evidence linking Huff to Haut’s murder including:
Huff’s red pick-up truck was seized in the 1993 attempted murder case, and matched the description of a vehicle seen near the area where Haut’s body was discovered the night she disappeared. Tire tracks at the scene matched the tires on Huff’s truck.
A “Children of the Sun” cassette tape without a box was found in Huff’s truck. A box for a “Children of the Sun” cassette tape, minus the tape, was found near Haut’s body.
Huff, 5 feet 4 inches tall, fit the height of the suspect in the ATM footage.
Huff grew up in Vero Beach and had lived a short distance from the bank where Haut’s ATM card was used. Huff’s girlfriend told police he often traveled to Vero Beach although he lived in St. Cloud.
Footprints made by Reebok tennis shoes at the scene matched a pair of Reeboks seized by investigators at Huff’s father’s home.
But despite all the evidence that seemed to link Huff to Haut’s murder, he was never charged or prosecuted.
“Why didn’t they do anything when they found out when (Huff) was connected to Ruth’s murder in 1995?” Wagner told the News-Gazette. “I’m upset. I need answers.”
The case was reopened in 2012 after detectives found new information, which was never disclosed publicly.
But now, six years later, the case remains unsolved.
Wagner has been reaching out to the media along with Haut’s great-nephew, Stephen Madonna, who was only 4 years old when the murders occurred.
Madonna, 30, who lives in Tampa, reached out to Wagner several months ago while doing research on his aunt’s case.
“We want to get the case reopened again and get new eyes looking at it,” said Madonna, who grew up looking at a picture of his Aunt Ruth hanging on a wall in his home and hearing the grizzly details of her death.
Wagner, meanwhile, said she has never recovered from the pain of Ruth’s murder.
“It’s gotten harder and harder over the years,” Wagner said. “I think about her everyday. I don’t forget what happened to her. I can’t forget.”