ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Frailty is starting to creep up on Vivian Haas, but her strong will has yet to fade. The 83-year-old woman is driven by a simple desire to see justice done for her son and daughter-in-law after a string of tragedies in the family.
Her son and his wife were killed and their bodies burned by carjacking fugitives in 2010 on the desolate wind-swept plains of New Mexico. The next year, a tornado flattened Haas’ neighborhood in Joplin, Mo. Earlier this year, her granddaughter was found shot to death in her home.
On Monday, the last of the three people charged with killing her son and daughter-in-law, Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla., goes to trial.
Haas will be there. She says she wants him to be held accountable for forever changing her life and the lives of her family members. She wants the tragedies to end.
“We’re not quitters,” she said of her family’s pursuit of justice. “We’ve just got to do it. This has to be taken care of.”
The couple, 61-year-old high school sweethearts and recent retirees from General Motors, were headed to Colorado for an annual camping trip when they decided to take a break at a rest stop near the New Mexico-Texas border in August 2010.
They had traveled the same route for the past 11 summers. This year, they were spotted by the fugitives, who prosecutors say were eyeing their truck and travel trailer.
At gunpoint, prosecutors say, the couple was forced to drive west along Interstate 40 before pulling off onto a lonely two-lane road.
They were then ordered into their trailer, and gunshots rang out.
The Haases were dead, their bodies found later in the charred rubble of their trailer. Their truck, money and guns were gone, but two of their small dogs were found nearby, both sunburned and one with burns on her back and paws.