Ex-husband of Vail Valley woman: ‘Didn’t stash her in a dumpster’
Linnea Hayda’s felony trial on charges of false reporting continues in Eagle
- False reporting: Police and prosecutors claim she concocted a story that she was abducted and dropped in a dumpster in Vail.
- Attempting to influence a public official: Police and prosecutors say she lied to them about it.
- Tampering with evidence: Police and prosecutors say she concocted evidence to support her story, which they say she also concocted.
EAGLE — Police arrested Linnea Hayda three times on misdemeanor domestic violence charges before she was found in a Vail dumpster, according to testimony Monday in her felony trial.
After she was found, Hayda attempted suicide twice in two weeks, she was found unconscious and hospitalized for a drug overdose and was involuntarily placed under a psychiatric hold, according to testimony.
Hayda’s most recent ex-husband, with whom she has two children, was back on the stand Monday in District Court. Hayda claimed that on March 26, 2018, her ex-husband abducted her from an Avon parking lot when she was leaving work, put a bag over her head, threw her in the back of her car, zip-tied her wrists and ankles and dropped her in a dumpster near the Vail apartment complex where they once lived together.
Vail Police and prosecutors with the District Attorney’s Office claim none of that is true. They say Hayda put herself in that dumpster, concocted her story to implicate her ex-husband in an effort to manipulate a custody battle and then lied to police about it.
‘Didn’t stash her in a dumpster’
Her ex-husband, who took the stand just before noon Friday, testified for the rest of the day Friday between starts and stops by both legal teams and wrapped up his testimony at 10:15 a.m. Monday.
Defense attorney Thea Reiff and Deputy District Attorney Johnny Lombardi sparred over questions, with Reiff digging at the Vail Police Department’s investigation and Lombardi drilling holes in Hayda’s version of events.
“Did you stash Ms. Hayda in a dumpster?” Lombardi asked Hayda’s ex-husband.
“No,” he responded.
“Did you have zip ties with you on March 26, 2018?” Lombardi asked.
“No,” he said.
During his testimony, Hayda’s ex-husband said Hayda was arrested three times for domestic violence, pushing him in front of their children.
He said all three times he was scared for his children’s safety, as well as his own.
“After her third arrest for domestic violence in front of my children, I wanted this relationship to be over,” he said.
On the day Hayda claims she was abducted, March 26, 2018, she was under protection orders to keep her away from her ex-husband and the Vail apartment where he lived with the children. He was under one restraining order to keep him away from her. He had custody of their two children.
In custody hearings before the dumpster incident, Hayda asked for unsupervised visitation with their children. Her ex-husband and his attorney cited her mental instability in objecting to that request.
Ann Parmalee is an attorney and child guardian in dependency and neglect cases, representing the “best interests of the children,” she said. She was appointed to oversee the case between Hayda and her ex-husband in 2017.
She testified she was in a hearing on March 20, 2018, with Hayda and her ex-husband regarding Hayda’s visitation rights. She met with Hayda’s ex-husband in his apartment on March 26, 2018, at 6 p.m. — after he picked up the children from their West Vail daycare.
If Hayda’s ex-husband had been arrested and charged with kidnapping and attempted murder, it would be “very relevant” in her decisions about the best interests of the children, she said.
Christopher Cox lives in Silverthorne and works with Vail Health as an emergency room nurse and supervisor. He was working on the morning of March 27, 2018, when firefighters pulled Hayda out of the dumpster and paramedics brought her to the hospital.
When she was able to speak one of the first things she said is, “Jeff did this!” Cox said.
His whereabouts accounted for
Prosecutors say witnesses have accounted for Hayda’s ex-husband’s whereabouts during the incident.
Monday morning her ex-husband testified that on that March afternoon, he clocked out from his job as a cook at the Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards around 4 p.m., drove straight home, took a shower and walked his dog. He said he did not stop in Avon, as Hayda claims.
He picked up his children from daycare in West Vail at 5:15 p.m. Director Cindy Lagace testified that he signed out the two children for the day.
Reiff took aim at the Vail Police investigation.
“The officers did not ask if you put Ms. Hayda in the dumpster to push her over the edge,” Reiff asked.
“I did not put anybody in a dumpster,” he answered.
Reiff asked if police asked him if he had any drugs that would render Hayda helpless.
“No,” he replied.
“They did not take DNA swabs of the rear compartment of your car,” Reiff asked.
“It was more than a year ago. I cannot recall every question asked,” he responded.
Meredith Mueller works at Axis Sports Medicine in Avon, where Hayda was an employee. Mueller said Hayda worked a normal shift on March 26, but did not come to work on March 27. Hayda came to the office around 6:30 p.m. that day and spoke with Mueller.
“She said she had spent the night in a dumpster,” Mueller said.
Christopher Piper also testified Monday. He said he and his family were in Vail for a spring break ski trip on March, 27, 2018 — staying in a seasonal rental apartment above Hayda’s ex-husband’s apartment. Piper was asleep when his son came into the bedroom, saying there was a police officer at the door. Piper said the Vail officer asked if they had heard any fighting or shouting from the unit below them.
Hayda’s ex-husband testified Friday that he’d found a $20 bill in the parking lot the morning of March 27, 2018, and assumed that it was something dropped by the Pipers staying in the rental above him. He said renters drop things all the time and he wanted to set a good example for his son, so he left a note and envelope with the $20 bill in it on Piper’s car, pinned by the windshield wiper.
Piper testified that the note said, “Found these items on the ground. Thought they might be yours.” It was $20 bill and a roll of garbage bags.
He pulled the $20 bill out of the envelope, unfolded it and noticed it was stained with what appeared to be red ink, Piper said.