How Vail police turned focus toward Linnea Hayda in dumpster case |

How Vail police turned focus toward Linnea Hayda in dumpster case

Closing arguments are set for Friday morning, then the jury will begin deliberating

Defense attorney Tyler Smith with the Public Defenders Office, left, leads defendant Linnea Hayda up the hall during a break in her trial for false reporting.
Randy Wyrick |
The charges
  • False Reporting to Authorities: Class 3 Misdemeanor
  • Violation of a Protection Order: Class 1 Misdemeanor
  • Tampering With Physical Evidence: Class 6 Felony
  • Attempt to Influence a Public Servant: Class 4 Felony

EAGLE — When Vail police launched their investigation, they believed what Linnea Hayda told them — that someone kidnapped her and threw her in a dumpster.

“We try to treat our victims with dignity and respect. We also try to take them at their word,” Vail Police Sergeant Luke Causey said in court Thursday on the ninth day of Hayda’s felony trial for charges related to false reporting. Causey led the investigation, which police initially viewed as an attempted homicide.

It didn’t take long for that to change.

“You’re lying to me”

After a series of interviews over the next weeks following the March 27, 2018 incident, Vail police didn’t find anything of evidentiary value indicating Hayda’s story was true. So officers decided to confront Hayda with the information they had, Causey said.

“You’re lying to me. I know you’re lying to me. You know you’re lying to me. You have lied to me consecutively for weeks at a time.” Vail Police Sergeant Luke Causey

Causey called Hayda saying he had new information about the case and asked her to come to the Vail Police Department on April 12, 2018. He confronted Hayda in an interview room.

“I’m going to give you the chance to tell me anything else you might know,” Causey said.

“I don’t remember anything else,” Hayda replied. “I don’t even know if the memories are real … I’m not sure when I left the parking lot … I don’t remember being in the hospital.”

After a few moments, Causey leaned toward Hayda and accused her of lying.

“You’re lying to me. I know you’re lying to me. You know you’re lying to me. You have lied to me consecutively for weeks at a time,” Causey told Hayda.

“I’m telling you I don’t remember!” Hayda said.

“Stop. Drop the BS story and tell me the truth … You have said everything about this but the truth,” Causey said. “How do you get from Avon to Vail?”

“I don’t know. I teleported? I don’t know,” Hayda said.

“That’s a lie,” Causey said.

Exasperated, Causey stood at the interview room table and told Hayda to stand up.

“Stand up. You’re under arrest,” Causey said.

“What? What am I under arrest for?” Hayda said as she stood.

“Multiple things,” Causey replied as he put the handcuffs on her.

Hayda was arrested that afternoon, with police charging her with false reporting, tampering with evidence and attempting to influence a public official.

During her cross-examination Thursday afternoon, Stacey Shobe, one of Hayda’s defense attorneys, pointed out that even after her arrest Hayda did not elicit the response Causey was looking for. Shobe’s cross-examination of Causey focused on the police investigation, questioning several aspects of the investigation, and how quickly it focused only on Hayda.

Forensic phone search

As part of their investigation, Vail police requested a forensic search of Hayda’s phone, according to Officer Craig Westering’s report of April 12, 2018. Among the internet searches from Hayda’s phone were one for false reporting laws in Colorado, another for the criminal penalties, and a news story under the headline, “Man sentenced to life for kidnapping.”

During their investigation, detectives found no one who could corroborate Hayda’s story — that her ex-husband abducted her and threw her in the dumpster the night of March 26, 2018. However, numerous people confirmed that her ex-husband was right where he said he was during the time Hayda said she was abducted. Detectives soon ruled out Hayda’s ex-husband as the suspect who threw her in the dumpster.

However, a 12-hour gap appeared in the timeline of Hayda’s story that the investigation could not close, Causey said.

Jittery public

Along with the criminal investigation, Vail police also had to deal with a jittery public.

Vail Police Commander Ryan Kenney testified Thursday that Vail police were deluged with calls from people who were scared that “someone was grabbing women off the street and throwing them in dumpsters.”

A press release issued March 28 saying there was “no credible threat” seemed to put the public’s mind at ease, Causey said.

“I didn’t get any calls after that,” Causey said.

Jury deliberations begin Friday

The prosecution concluded its case at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, seven days after opening statements.

District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman advised Hayda that she had the right to testify, telling her it was her right and her decision to testify or remain silent.

“I wish to remain silent,” Hayda told Dunkelman.

With that, the defense also rested. Defense Attorney Thea Reiff asked that Dunkelman dismiss the case, insisting that the evidence was tainted and prosecutors did not prove Hayda’s guilt.

Deputy District Attorney Johnny Lombardi argued that’s not true, and that the jury should make decision.

Judge Dunkelman sided with prosecutors, scheduling closing arguments and jury instructions for 9 a.m. Friday.

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