Detectives: Facts don’t support Vail woman’s claim that ex-husband tried to kill her
EAGLE — Two former detectives with the Vail Police Department testified Thursday that there is nothing of evidentiary value to corroborate Linnea Hayda’s story that her ex-husband tried to kill her by putting a bag over her head and throwing her in a dumpster.
Hayda was found in a Vail dumpster, 200 yards from her ex-husband’s apartment, on the morning of March 27, 2018. She faces felony charges including false reporting, violating a restraining order, tampering with physical evidence and attempting to influence a public servant.
Jurors heard testimony from two detectives and a witness Thursday and watched two videos: An interview that Vail detectives conducted with Hayda in Vail Health Hospital on the morning of March 27, 2018, and another interrogation on the afternoon of March 28, 2018, at the Vail police station.
In the first video, Hayda tells Dan Torgerson, formerly of the Vail Police Department, that her ex-husband is psychotic and that the last thing she remembered was leaving work at Axis Sports Medicine in Avon around 4:30 p.m.
In the interview, Hayda said “I think it was (him)” before mentioning she “heard his voice” and “saw his car.”
Hayda claimed in the video taken at the hospital that she woke up in a dumpster with a trash bag over her head and her feet and hands bound by zip ties. She claimed that she was able to free one of her hands before poking a hole in the bag so she could breathe. She also said she was able to remove another zip tie after managing to get her lighter out of her pocket and burning it off.
In her interrogation the following night, however, Hayda’s story about which hand she freed, and how many zip ties were on her hands and feet, and what she remembered, continually shifted over the course of a nearly two-hour interview.
Timeline doesn’t support claims
Jesse Rector, who now lives in North Carolina but was a detective with the Vail Police Department from 2014 to 2018, was the last to take the stand Thursday. He led the interrogation of Hayda on March 28 after chasing leads on March 27 and March 28.
Rector was sent to interview Hayda’s ex-husband on the morning of March 27 after Hayda was found. In an interview conducted at the Shaw Cancer Center, Rector said Hayda’s ex-husband expressed shock at first, then concern, when told about the events of the morning. Rector also testified that the ex-husband was “more than happy to help me out,” agreeing to let Rector search his car, his house and his phone for evidence.
Rector testified that a search of the car, a 2008 Honda Element, didn’t turn up anything — and that there was no way a body could have fit in the cargo storage in the back of the car that was packed with a portable crib, diaper bags and other assorted kids’ things. He also noted there was a layer of dust on the portable crib, indicating it hadn’t been moved in a while. A search of the ex-husband’s Vail apartment also didn’t turn up anything of “evidentiary value.”
“It was fairly clean,” Rector said. “You can’t have a perfectly clean house with two kids. … I looked in the laundry basket for mud, blood, anything else, but there was nothing like that.”
Rector said working through the timeline of events from the day prior, Hayda’s ex-husband’s whereabouts checked out.
Her ex-husband delivered the couple’s children to their day care in West Vail at 7:15 that morning, drove to work at Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards where he clocked in at 8 a.m., then clocked out at 4 p.m. — all verified by timesheets and video.
Her ex-husband then said he rushed home to clean the house before a meeting with the court-appointed guardian later that night and took a shower before walking the dog and then driving to get the kids, signing the children out around 5:15 p.m.
A neighbor in the building who testified before Rector said that she ran into the ex-husband in the stairwell between 4:30 and 5 p.m. with the dog. She said she specifically remembered the dog because she’s unsteady on her feet and was worried the dog might jump up on her. She was unsure about whether the ex-husband had the children with him but said she was certain of the time frame.
The guardian also testified that she met with the ex-husband in his apartment at around 6 that night.
‘A lot of really large, unusual gaps’
Rector conducted the interview with Hayda on March 28 in an attempt for detectives to try to find more clues to piece together a strange story.
“We had not found any evidence to corroborate, so we were really hoping to sit down, get more details,” Rector testified in court. “Specifically anything she remembered, anything to give us more evidence. At this point, everything I’d seen had contradicted what the initial report was. Something to corroborate her timeline. I wanted to hear from her so I could move forward with the investigation.”
Rector specifically wanted to know how Hayda didn’t have any recollection of a period of 14 to 15 hours when she hadn’t sustained any head trauma and wasn’t under the influence of alcohol or drugs, per tests done in the hospital, nor did she have a history of blackouts.
“I don’t know,” Hayda said.
She claimed, in the interrogation, that “I remember being in a car, facedown, and it was light out. I was in the cargo area, facedown. I could feel the sun hitting me. I wasn’t moving. The car was not moving. I remember his voice. I remember him saying he talked to the guardian for our children. I remember, it comes in just like blotches, like I remember him saying that I wasn’t going to see the kids anymore. I remember him putting a bag over my head.”
Hayda said she also specifically remembered seeing her ex-husband’s car in the parking lot near a former co-worker’s car when she was leaving work. She said he knew it was his car because of a crack in the windshield, the color of the car’s grill and the Yakima rack on top.
She said she put her head down on the way to her car, trying to ignore her ex, in case he was in his car.
“I remember opening the door to my car,” she said. “I don’t remember anything from that. I don’t remember any pain, hearing any voices.”
In the video interview, Rector points out that no witnesses in one of the busiest shopping centers in Avon saw anything suggesting an assault at that time of the day. He also pointed out that Hayda saying she remembered her ex-husband telling her he’d met with the children’s guardian when she claims she was in his car didn’t add up, since she said she felt the sunlight on her in the car, and the meeting with the guardian happened after sundown.
The two also went round and round about Hayda’s claims about the zip ties, with Rector at one point asking her why she’d burned some off when she’d freed her hand, and questioning why she claimed she couldn’t stand up in the dumpster once she was unbound.
“I coudn’t get leverage to stand up. I was laying down,” she said. “It was dark, and I remember just being frozen cold. I remember banging on the side with my lighter, screaming for help.”
She said she also remembers firemen pulling her out of the dumpster.
Between sobs, Hayda expressed outrage in the video that her ex-husband was out walking free and claimed that the facts that detectives had presented were “convenient.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say here,” she said. “I’m telling you what I remember. I was in a dumpster. I just don’t want to do this. He’s f—ing crazy. … I’m telling you, (he) put a bag over my head. … You went through his car, his house? You found nothing? This is unbelievable.”
She also questioned the timeline of her ex-husband leaving his job at 4 and not picking up the kids up until after 5.
“It doesn’t take an hour to drive from Edwards to Vail,” she said. She also stated that other employees where her husband worked would punch his time card when he forgot to clock out.
The trial is scheduled to run through next Wednesday before District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman.
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