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Man committed for 1988 shooting spree to be released

Posted May 18, 2010

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— A Superior Court judge has ordered the release of a Winston-Salem man who has spent 20 years in a state mental institution after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of killing four people and wounding five others.

Michael Hayes, 46, could be released from Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh within the next few weeks, his longtime attorney, Karl Knudsen, said Tuesday.

During a two-day hearing last week, seven psychologists and psychiatrists testified that Hayes is not dangerous and no longer suffers from a personality disorder.

Man committed for 1988 shooting spree to be released Man committed for 1988 shooting spree to be released

"He is completely cured. He is a much wiser, more mature, more stable person now than he was, even five or 10 years ago," Knudsen said. "For the last 20 years he hasn't been on any kind of psycho-active medication and has really shown any signs of mental illness for I would contend at least 15 years."

Hayes has said he thought he was killing demons in human bodies when he shot his victims at a rural crossroads in 1988. Doctors have said he suffered a psychotic break brought on by drug and alcohol abuse.

A case manager must first determine if Hayes can meet conditions that Judge Steve Balog set Friday.

Those conditions include submitting to random drug tests and searches and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He also cannot own any guns and cannot go to Forsyth County – where the shootings occurred – or out of the state.

Knudsen said Hayes plans to move to Wendell to live his girlfriend and their two children.

Hayes has been held at the state-run Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh since he was found not guilty in 1989.

Over the years, he has been granted privileges that allow him to spend much of his time away from Dix. He works 40 to 60 hours a week as an assistant manager at a convenience store and has unsupervised visits for up to a week with his girlfriend and children.

"He's been out in the community, and really, for the last several years, mostly what he's been doing at the hospital is sleeping," Knudsen said.

Balog, who will review the case after a year to make sure he has met the conditions of his release, also ordered that Hayes must stay employed to remain free, and he must go to counseling for his relationship with his girlfriend.

Family members of Hayes' victims say they think he should remain in custody.

"He's never been punished for what he did," Linda Cantrell, who lost her 16-year-old daughter, Crystal, in the shooting spree, told the Winston-Salem Journal on Friday.

56 Comments

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  • sinenomine May 19, 5:30 p.m.

    Hi,Insincere gesundheit.

    If someone in the justice system wants to "put a stop to this" that's fine by me. My point is that what I'm against is a bunch of vigilantes "putting a stop to it", like Palidog apparently advocates and WRAL and WTVD are just short of fomenting. The following thought is not original - No one in society has any more rights than the least popular individual in it.

    And don't worry, I'm not thinking about running for office. "Sinenomine" wouldn't fit on a yard sign.

  • insincere gesundheit May 19, 5:14 p.m.

    Someone in the justice system needs to put a stop to this! sinen, please run for public office so I could have the pleasure of voting against you...

  • sinenomine May 19, 4:07 p.m.

    suckafree23 - Please; you have a right to express yourself here on this board, but do not presume to tell me what I would feel if it were my own family. I will decide what words to put in my own mouth, not you.

  • suckafree23 May 19, 3:54 p.m.

    sinenomine, really???? He should be left in peace, like he left 4 people in 1988 not to mention the the other 5 that actually lived from being shot by him. See this story doesn't make any one trust the justice system. He doesn't deserve to live in peace after the pain he cause 9 families. If it were your family you would not feel the same way!

  • sinenomine May 19, 3:28 p.m.

    The legal system found Michael Hayes not guilty by reason of insanity. Doctors say he's cured, and apparently at least one judge agrees. Most tellingly, he's apparently been working in and around Wake County with minimal supervision for years and no one was the wiser until now.

    The reporting on Hayes' imminent release has been sensationalistic and inflammatory, better suited to The National Enquirer. Furthermore, WTVD's airing of a picture of his house practically invites someone to take the law into their own hands by trying to harm him or his family. In this regard the comment of Palidog that Hayes " . . . survived after being shot 5 times, including a shotgun blast to the chest . . . " and suggesting that one "buy a large caliber" comes very close to advocating violence and should be removed. If Hayes suffers harassment or harm it will be in part because of the irresponsibility of WRAL and WTVD in the way they have reported this story.

    This man should be left in peace.

  • Handle With Care May 19, 12:31 p.m.

    I personally have known Mike for the past couple of years. He's been practing Christanity and is always polite and respectful. I don't think this is really big news as he has been out on weekends for quite sometime now and has never caused any trouble.

  • dissatisifiedwitheverything May 19, 8:38 a.m.

    This man should have been given the death penalty and had it carried out within 2 days. This is not justice, and if you think it is, then you are sadly mistaken.
    Channel 5 said that this man fathered 2 children by another patient, while in the mental hospital. If this is true, why are these mentally disturbed people being allowed to have sex in a mental hospital?

  • SO LOW May 19, 8:24 a.m.

    He really learned his lesson didn't he? (Note the sarcasm)

  • suckafree23 May 19, 8:22 a.m.

    He will be living off Eagle Rock RD in Wendell, Channel 11 was in the area last night filming the house. It's great to know he could flip any minute and kill more innocent people.

  • anastasia May 18, 6:25 p.m.

    As others have said, Hays was never *mentally ill*, nor *insane*. He was drunk and on illegal drugs, period, end of story. Once he got dried out and rehabbed, he was magically *sane*. He played the system and won the jackpot. There are plenty of criminals sitting in Central Prison, who killed and wounded far fewer victims while 'drunk & on drugs'.

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