Within hours after Radcliffe Haughton shot and killed three women and wounded four more in a Brookfield beauty salon before taking his own life, criminologists and federal agents were looking at the case as it fits into a rising tide of workplace slayings — and as a possible copycat killing.
Larry Barton, the leading adviser to the FBI on workplace crimes, said he and the federal crime agency are looking into whether Haughton might have been “inspired” by a shooting Thursday that killed three women in a beauty salon in Casselberry, FL, a suburb of Orlando.
The killer in that case also was the estranged husband of a salon stylist. She was also shot, and her husband then turned his gun on himself, hours before an injunction hearing.
The father of Radcliffe Haughton, who goes by the same name and was in close contact with his son days before the Brookfield slaughter, lives in Winter Park, FL, less than 10 miles away from Casselberry.
A sudden spike in workplace violence
“We are researching whether he was inspired by that,” said Barton, president of The American College in Bryn Mawr, PA. “What is interesting is that killings at small business places are still relatively unusual, only about 15 percent of the total. Most are at manufacturing facilities or offices.
“So this, so close on the heels of the homicides in the Orlando salon, it kind of stands out.”
Workplace killings throughout America are on an alarming rise this year, Barton said.
“Until recently, on average, about two people have been killed in a workplace each workday,” Barton said. “That held steady for the past 17 years.
“But 2012 is becoming the worst year in history. We are on course for three people a day – a 50 percent increase in workplace homicides.”
A twisted sense of betrayal
Barton, by midday Monday, had already absorbed all available reports of the shootings at Azana Spa and was making comparisons to reams of case studies of workplace violence. Obviously, the Brookfield crime is not of the “disgruntled employee” pattern, but rather one of confrontation with a known person in their workplace.
“The primary cause is mental illness,” Barton said. “If there is no history of that, then the No. 2 cause is the issue of betrayal – the broken romance. ‘You promised me we would work this out’ – but without acknowledging his own fault.”
Milwaukee has been shocked by its third mass slaying on a weekend — the Saturday morning attack in 2005 at a church service also in Brookfield, the Sunday morning shootout in August at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, and now Azana.
But only the Azana killings were in a place of work, not worship, and that also stands out to Barton, the highest rated instructor at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., where he teaches risk management.
“Sunday is surprising,” he said. “Sunday is the lowest day for workplace violence, simply because so many places of work are closed. It draws attention. And, so close to the homicides in the Orlando salon – the same industry – we’re looking into the issue of a copycat.
“The FBI will be looking for anything he wrote, notes, anything on Facebook or in e-mails, that might refer to that incident.”
The offices of the FBI in Milwaukee and Behavioral Ananlysis in Quantico could not comment on the case Tuesday the FBI is not the lead investigating agency in the cases, but is assisting local law enforcement.
Drawing maximum attention to the act
Attention. That begins to get to the heart of everyone’s burning question: Why? Why, even in desperation over your failing romance, does a man follow his wife to her workplace and kill not just her but as many more as he can?
“Why, we wonder, if they could have done this elsewhere, do they do it there?” Barton posed. “If he had done it in the home, who would be there to see except possibly other family members?
“The answer is: Shame. They need to create maximum shame. It’s that issue of betrayal. They feel that something is being taken from them, and they need to take that back and more. We actually call it ‘emotional reward.’ It becomes much larger than just a rift in the family. It is played out in front of the entire community. Now, everyone knows.”
In this case, Barton said, there was even more for the perpetrator – for Haughton – to attack and destroy in his twisted sense of betrayal. The staff at Azana, all women, has been described as like a family. Zina Haughton had been with the spa a long time, worked long hours, shared the joys and worries of motherhood with her colleagues – and hinted to some of her dissolving marriage.
“To him, they are co-conspirators,” Barton said.
Attacking her, and all she holds dear
Radcliffe Haughton had a history of domestic violence, including an arrest in January 2011 for disorderly conduct in a standoff after fighting with his wife. He had just been put under a restraining order after slashing one of her tires at Azana – an immature act of retaliation carried out in front of her co-workers, two of whom made witness statements against him to police.
“This is something we look for in crisis management,” Barton said. “I think it would be key whether the workplace was specified in the temporary restraining order – it should have been.”
It was not. The TRO petition specifies only that Radcliffe Haughton should “avoid my residence and/or any location temporarily occupied by me.” Even though the tire-slashing incident occurred at Azana, there was no specific prohibition against Haughton going there.
An ex-Marine, Haughton was used to handling firearms, and the Brown Deer police knew from contacts with him that he owned weapons. The restraining order did specify that he was to turn over any firearms he possessed for its duration – four years. That would be another element of loss for him, taking away another piece of his identity.
No intention of coming out alive
Haughton also owned a car. But on Sunday morning, he chose to take a cab to Azana. It was a quiet morning, and he would arrive just as the spa was opening, staffed for a day of weekend relaxation for its clients.
To Barton, the timing, the mode of transportation, suggest that Haughton had fully meditated what he was about to do. He had no intention of getting away.
“About 31 percent of those who commit workplace homicides – and this is only those who survive to be interviewed – say that they were going to commit suicide, or suicide by cop.”
As to what leads a person to that, and Haughton in particular, there is despondency and desperation over his wife leaving him – but something deeper, darker and uglier still that drives him to the ultimate coward’s act, the killing of women.
“There is a sense among some men to look at women as chattel,” Barton said. “And they become obsessive about it. They become a bully in a relationship.”
When that relationship ends, leaving, for the woman, becomes the most dangerous part. The basis of even the single killing of a spouse or lover is that obsession, which comes down to a simple, crude expression: “If I can’t have you, no one can.”