Lies, abuse alleged in case involving woman found in Vail dumpster
EAGLE — Linnea Marlene Hayda was found in a Vail dumpster on a cold morning in late March 2018. Now a jury will determine whether Hayda, 33, put herself in there and lied to police about it to incriminate her ex-husband, or someone else put her there while she was blacked out.
The jury of nine women and five men — 12 jurors and two alternates picked after two long days of jury selection — heard opening statements and testimony from the first witnesses Wednesday morning.
“Ms. Hayda made that story up,” Heidi McCollum, assistant District Attorney said during her opening statement Wednesday. “She manufactured a story to make it look like she had been attacked by her ex-husband.”
“Linea Hayda woke up in complete darkness. She was alone and bound with a bag over her head,” Stacey Shobe, one of Hayda’s defense attorneys with the Public Defenders Office said.
Hayda claims a contentious relationship
Hayda claims that when she left work at Axis Sports Medicine in Avon around 4:30 p.m., March 26, 2018, she walked to her car and put her purse inside. She said that’s when someone put a bag over her head, punched her in the face and threw in a car. She claims she did not regain consciousness until early the next morning.
Police believed her, at first, McCollum said.
“Vail was on high alert. They were looking for someone who had kidnapped a woman and thrown her away,” McCollum said.
Hayda’s ex-husband had a restraining order against her. The two had been embroiled in a custody battle over their two children. They’d been to court a few days before the dumpster incident, and were scheduled for another court date a few days later. The two children were living with Hayda’s ex-husband in a Vail apartment.
McCollum said in court Wednsday that Hayda’s intent for putting herself in a dumpster was to have the Vail police arrest her ex-husband.
“Why? Because he has the kids,” McCollum told the jury.
The dumpster is about 200 yards from her ex-husband’s apartment, just beyond the limits set by that restraining order, according to court statements Wednesday.
Ex-husband did not do it, DA says
Hayda claims her ex-husband hit her and did this to her. No evidence supports that or anything like it, McCollum said.
“It could not have been her ex-husband who did this to her,” McCollum said.
First of all, no defensive wounds were found on her ex-husband when police spoke with him, McCollum said. His whereabouts were also well accounted for.
McCollum told the jury that witnesses saw him leave work, saw him walk his dog, saw him pick up his children, and saw him meet with a childcare worker and speak with neighbors. Investigators checked taxi records, bus video, hotel records and tested zip ties.
The morning Hayda was discovered, investigators found a $20 bill on the ground near her ex-husband’s car, McCollum said. The ex-husband put that money on a silver Volvo next to his car with a note that said it wasn’t his. He added his apartment number to the note, McCollum said.
Police found another $20 bill on Hayda that morning. Both bills carried marks indicating they had been in Hayda’s wallet.
Hayda also asked police whether they had found some of her money near her ex-husband’s apartment, McCollum said.
“She acted knowingly. She made this up. Did she receive injuries? Yes, but they did not come from her ex-husband,” McCollum said.
She banged on the side of the dumpster until she was found by a man walking his dog around 4:30 a.m., March 27, 2018. Firefighters, paramedics and police were on the scene in moments. Zip ties had been wrapped around her wrists and ankles. Zip ties were found outside the Dumpster, under a trash can. They had been cut, Vail Police Officer Nick Deering testified.
“There is no evidence that anyone put zip ties on her except her,” McCollum said.
Not one piece of physical evidence, including those zip ties, was examined for anyone else’s DNA, Shobe said.
Hayda’s shifting story
Hayda’s story shifted as police continued to interview her in the hours and days after she was discovered in the dumpster, McCollum said.
“Every lead they tracked down indicated that either it did not happen, or it was not her ex-husband,” McCollum said.
Shobe painted a different picture for the jury.
Shobe said Hayda suffers from bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, that Hayda’s relationship with her ex-husband was “volatile,” and that Hayda thought her ex-husband had been following her for the past few weeks, Shobe said.
After Hayda woke up inside the dumpster, she worked her right wrist free of the zip tie by which she was bound. She remembered she had a lighter in her pocket, Shobe said, which Hayda used it to free her hand. When she did she reached out and touched the dumpster’s metal wall. She began banging on it, Shobe said.
Shifting investigation focus
The focus of the investigation shifted quickly, from trying to determine who might have done this to Hayda, to proving that Hayda did this to herself, Shobe said.
On April 12, 2018, Vail Police asked Hayda to come to the police station to share some new information. Alone in an interview room, Shobe claimed detectives told Hayda, “You’re lying! You know you’re lying! I know you’re lying! Stop lying! Knock off the B.S. story and tell the truth!”
Shortly after that, Vail Police announced that Hayda was being arrested on felony charges including false reporting, violating a restraining order, tampering with physical evidence and attempting to influence a public servant.
The trial is scheduled to run through next Wednesday before District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman.