Susan Kuhnhausen was an average emergency room nurse until her life got turned upside down. On one fateful night in the fall of 2006, Kuhnhausen found herself grappling with an intruder for her life. This is the tale of how one woman, against all odds, turned the tables her own hitman. You won’t believe this story.
Kuhnhausen Headed To The Salon After Work
Things were business as usual when Kuhnhausen ended her shift at Providence Portland Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. She headed to the salon and read Oprah magazine in the waiting the room. After her appointment, she headed home to her quaint one-story house in Montavilla, a neighborhood in Southeast Portland.
Susan Was Home Alone
Susan had asked her estranged husband, Mike, to watch her cats for her. When she returned from her hair appointment she found that he wasn’t at her home. Susan and Mike had been married for 17 years – almost two decades. He left her a simple note near the microwave that said, “Sue, haven’t been sleeping. Had to get away – went to the beach.” He signed it, “Luv, ME.”
Susan didn’t think anything of the note, or the fact that her security alarm was beeping when she walked into the house. She simply disarmed the alarm, went back outside and flipped through her mail in the warm, September sun.
Susan Enters Her Bedroom, Only To Face Her Attacker
After reading the mail, Susan flipped off her shoes and noticed that her bedroom was unusually dark. Thinking she forgot to open the curtains, she walked to her room to let in some light. As soon as she opened the bedroom door, a man jumped out and lunged at her. The 59-year-old man was 5-foot-9, 190 pounds and hired by her husband to kill her. The man carried a red and black claw hammer. He wore rubber gloves to make sure his fingerprints didn’t end up in any unwanted places and his ponytail was tucked into a baseball hat.
Susan Used Her Emergency Room Training To Help Get Her Out
Susan was a 30-year emergency room veteran. In the course of her career as a nurse, she’s disarmed men, cracked open people’s chests, and given IVs to people thrashing around. She’s seen it all, and like the other nurses in the emergency room where she worked, Susan was trained in self-defense. She learned how to slip out of headlocks, but when the 190 lb. hitman lunged at her, she worried that she’d forget her life-saving training.
Rather than running away from her attacker, Susan remembered what she was taught.
Susan uses a myriad of defense tactics in the unbelievable fight for her life.
Susan Ran Up Close To Her Attacker, Screaming
Susan crowded her attacker, knowing his weapon would lose power if he couldn’t swing it from a distance. This is exactly how her training came in handy. The attacker did manage to get a hit in. He smacked her with the hammer on her left temple, as she screamed “Who are you? What do you want?”
Though Susan was only 5-foot-4, she was heavier than her attacker by quite a bit. In fact, her weight caused her chronic knee problems, but she knew where there was weight, there was strength. She slammed herself into her attacker, hoping to knock him over.
When Susan Slammed Into Her Hit Man, He Didn’t Budge
Susan slammed her body into the hitman, hoping her sheer weight would knock him over. Unfortunately, it didn’t do anything. Susan fell backward into the bedroom wall while her accuser muttered, “You’re strong.” Darn right!
At this point, Susan realized her situation was life or death. The attacker wasn’t there to rob her house. He wasn’t trying to escape, unnoticed. He was there solely to kill her.
“He is here to kill me,” she thought. “I don’t know why. I don’t know who he is. But his intent was clear.”
Susan Disarmed The Hit Man And Strangled Him
In a move straight out of a James Bond film, Susan screamed at her attacker “Who sent you?” She was overcome by a rush of adrenaline and was seeing red. “Who sent you here?” she screamed.
The woman stood her ground and managed to wrestle the hammer from his hands. She smacked him over the head three times with the weapon before he wrestled it back. Susan grabbed her assailant by the throat and screamed again, “Who sent you here?”
Her grip was so strong that her assailant started turning a dark-bruising purple as he struggled to breathe. But Susan’s fight was not over yet.
Susan Tried To Flee The Scene
Susan’s attacker was suffocating in her grip, but she wasn’t a natural-born killer. She got scared when he started turning blue and let go. Instead, she tried to feel and ran out of her bedroom into the hallway. Her assailant chased after her, spun her around, punched her in the face and split open her lip. He punched her again and she fell to the ground. This was her attacker’s one chance. He stood over her with his hammer looking to make his kill shot.
“He was standing over me with the hammer,” she said. “I looked at the floor and I thought, I’m going to die today.“
Susan Wrestled The Man To The Floor, And Started Biting Him
Susan’s outlook was grim, and she was convinced she was going to die, but she wasn’t ready to give up the fight. Susan somehow dragged her attacker to the ground and did everything she could to snatch away the hammer.
Susan didn’t have a weapon, she only had her teeth. She knew that if she was going to die, the teeth marks on her assailant would at least give him away as her murderer. She was fighting for justice, regardless of the outcome of her mortality. She bit him all over – his arm, his thigh, his torso.
Susan Even Bit The Man’s Genitals And Tried To Set Up Evidence For The Police To Find
At this point, Susan was doing everything she could to set up her murderer for a conviction. Assuming she wouldn’t live, she searched through his pockets while continuously biting him. She hoped to find a wallet that had an ID which she could throw underneath her bed for police to uncover. She bit through his pants and into his genitals. She was ruthless. The fight, at this point, was 14 minutes long and she refused to back down.
“I was like a downed powerline snapping on the pavement,” she said. She was fierce.
Susan Grabbed Her Attacker’s Neck And Threatened Him
At this point, things were rather deadlocked. The fight was seemingly endless, with neither party willing to give in. Susan was fighting for her life, and the other man was fighting for a paycheck. They were wedged in the hallway outside of her bedroom when Susan managed to climb on top of him and hook her arm tightly around his neck.
She screamed at him again, “Tell me who sent you here and I will call you an [expletive] ambulance.”
He was silent and she tightened her grip around his neck until he stopped moving. She took the hammer and ran outside.
Susan’s Neighbor Called 9-1-1
After her attacker stopped moving, Susan ran outside to her neighbor’s. Her neighbor immediately rang up 9-1-1. At this point, Susan was already suspicious that her ex-husband had sent the man to kill her.
The 9-1-1 operator asked Susan’s neighbor if the attacker was alone. She replied, “Did he have anybody with him? No.…She expressed a concern it may have been her ex-partner who sent the person.”
So how did things go so wrong? Why would Susan ever suspect her estranged husband in the first place? How had Susan’s once-loving marriage turn into an attempted homicide?
Susan Met Her Husband In A Personal Ad That Was Placed By Her Mother
Susan moved to Oregon in the early 1980s to pursue a career in nursing. She recently became a registered nurse and settled briefly in Coos Bay before deciding on Portland. She wasn’t so lucky in love, after being so focused on her career, and in 1988, her mother placed a personal ad for Susan in the Willamette Week. The ad claimed she was “someone different” who was looking for someone who “wants more out of a relationship than just ‘slender.'” Mike reached out to Susan, and they spoke on the phone for the first time on Jan. 30, 1988. They spoke on the phone for hours before meeting in person.
Susan And Mike Got Hitched Within A Year, But Things Quickly Went South
After their first date in February of 1988, where Susan and Mike strolled along Rhododendron Garden and fed ducks, it was only a year before they were on their way to get married. They took a car to Reno and tied the knot, but things went south shortly after.
“It wasn’t very long after we got married that there was no more hiking, no more getting out,” Susan said.
Mike got a janitorial job in the years following their wedding and started telling Susan he was never happy. He started complaining about the Susan’s smallest purchases and scrutinizing her every time she left the house.
“His life philosophy was: Life is a [expletive] sandwich, and every day you take another bite until you die,” said Susan.
Susan Kicked Mike Out Of The House In September 2005
A year before Mike plotted to murder his spouse and 17 years after they got married, she kicked him out of the house. He was unbearable and rude – he’d burp in her face if she tried to kiss him and he chain-smoked all day. Susan never changed the locks or the alarm code in their home, and Mike moved in with his father.
“I cared about him, but I didn’t want to live with him anymore,” she said. “I wanted to be happy again.”
Mike Lost His Job, And Was Vying For Susan’s Money
Mike had a motive to kill his wife. He had recently lost his job and found himself with no place to live. Susan had named her brother as the beneficiary in her life insurance policy instead of her husband. It didn’t slide past Mike, who was a little sour. The only way he could get the money he wanted was to take Susan’s assets. Mike and Susan had recently paid off their $300,000 house in Montavilla. If Susan was dead, it would be his. But how did he get the courage to finally order the hit?
Police Identified Susan’s Attacker And Linked Him To Mike
Police quickly identified Susan’s attacker as Ed Haffey, a 59-year-old Vietnam Vet. He had a number of crimes under his belt including the 1991 murder of his ex-girlfriend. He arranged her hit and her decomposed body was found near the Umpqua River. He pleaded guilty and served nine years of jail time, but was hired by Mike as a janitor in 2004.
Haffey was quickly tied to Susan’s ex-husband. Officers found Haffey’s backpack which contained Hershey’s syrup, $200 in cash, diabetes pills, a daybook and a pay stub. The daybook had an entry from two days prior that read, “Call Mike.” Mike’s new phone number was found in a manila envelope inside of the backpack.
Police Found Mike And Placed Him In Involuntary Psychiatric Hold
Mike was found to have bought a gun from a pawn shop. He left a suicide note to his father that said, “All I ever wanted was to be loved and every time I had it – I [expletive] it up.” Police put out a bulletin searching for the band and found him in the morning of September 13. He was in the parking garage at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center checking himself in because he had “nothing to live for anymore.” The police put him in an involuntary psychiatric hold, and he was arrested 11 hours later.
Haffey’s Former Cellmate Revealed Mike’s Ultimate Plot To Police
Haffey’s former cellmate spoke to police and told them that Haffey had asked to be part of an insurance scam burglary. He met with Haffey and Mike at Southeast 82nd Ave and Division Street where he was offered $5,000 to help Haffey kill Susan. The cellmate declined.
Another witness saw Haffey meet Mike in an Applebee’s parking lot. It was only after seeing his picture in the news, that the man realized Mike was wanted for murder.
The evidence was overwhelming, according to a prosecutor on the case. Mike pleaded guilty to soliciting Susan’s murder on August 30, 2007.
Susan Filed For Divorce And Tried To Come To Terms With The Incident
Susan was forever changed by the incident. She admitted that she felt like “a broken plate glued back together.” She was suffering from major PTSD – in restaurants, she’d sit where she could keep her eyes on the door. She would circle the block believing she was being followed.
The day after Mike was arrested, Susan filed for divorce, but the scars are lasting. “I’m doing a life sentence for picking a bad husband,” she said.
Though Susan feared Mike returning after prison, he never saw the outside of a prison cell. He died from cancer in 2014 – 92 days before his release.