Convicted killer to be freed

May 18, 2010 8:58:52 PM PDT
Convicted killer Michael Hayes gunned down four people and shot nine others in Winston-Salem 22 years ago.He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Since then Hayes has been committed to Dorthea Dix Mental Hospital in Raleigh. He will soon be released and will live in Wake County.

Although Hayes technically lived at the hospital, for years he had privileges that allowed him to leave the campus and work. He lived for days at a time with his girlfriend, fathered her children, and did all the things most of people do. Now, he will do that permanently.

In 1988, not long after Hayes became famous for being a spree killer, he said God told him to do it.

Now, psychiatrists and a judge say he is well enough to enjoy complete freedom.

Randy Straughan is the only person in the Wendell neighborhood where Hayes' girlfriend and the couple's children live, who agreed to talk on camera after finding out Hayes would be moving in.

"I'll just keep my doors locked and the alarm on," he said.

But neighbors have nothing to fear according to Hayes' attorney who says his client is cured of his mental illness.

"Michael has dedicated himself to ensuring that those things will never happen again," Hayes' attorney Karl Knudsen said. "He's an extremely well balanced person at this point and extremely remorseful about what happened."

The father of one of Hayes' victims, R.B. Nicholson, disagrees.

"He's the same person he was," Nicholson said.

Nicholson says he doesn't believe the monitoring requirements for Hayes are strict enough.

"I've been telling folks we've got a really good statue on motoring pedophiles, but we need the same thing for sociopaths," Nicholson said.

Some in the Wendell neighborhood where Hayes will live say they are concerned and worried, but also believe in second chances. Staughn isn't so sure.

"With all those people hurt and killed I don't know about a second chance for him," he said.

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