In early April, a young man returning home from work discovered a horrifying scene. Clinton Flowers's front yard was full of law enforcement and emergency vehicles. Sheriff's deputies on patrol had noticed a vehicle with both doors open, and when investigating, they detected a strong odor of propane gas coming from the house.
Inside the home was the body of Flowers's 24-year-old wife Rachelle, who had been murdered by an unknown assailant.
Now, several months later, police have linked DNA evidence found at the scene to registered sex offender Michael B. Hair, 46. According to McClain County Sheriff Don Hewett, Hair's DNA was "all over the crime scene." It is believed that Hair, a convicted burglar, was attempting to burglarize the house when Rachelle Flowers interrupted him. He killed her and attempted to blow up the house with propane.
Unfortunately for a grieving husband, this discovery will do little to help him find justice. Hair is dead, having committed suicide roughly two weeks after Rachelle Flowers's murder.
Hair's Oklahoma Department of Corrections record dates back to 1989 with convictions for grand larceny, obtaining property by false pretense, second degree burglary, attempted first degree rape, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and indecent exposure. His criminal history causes Clinton Flowers to question why the man who murdered his wife was out of prison at all. Now, to compound that frustration, he learns that there will be no criminal justice for his wife's death.
Investigators say that Rachelle Flowers was not sexually assaulted, and there is no indication that she and Hair knew each other prior to the murder. Instead, the young woman was killed in a random act of violence when she stumbled upon a man trying to burglarize her home.
This is the second highly publicized case this summer in which the suspect of a crime was identified but died before being brought to justice. In Tulsa, a series of rapes had areas of the city almost on lockdown until the suspect was identified through DNA evidence after being critically injured in a car wreck only 10 minutes after the most recent rape. Desmond Campbell, 30, was injured on June 29 in a single-car accident police attributed to driver fatigue. By the time Campbell was identified as the Tulsa serial rape suspect, he was brain dead. Roughly a week later, he died of his injuries.
For crime victims, obtaining justice is part of the healing process that allows closure and helps them to move forward. When criminal justice is denied through the death of the person who hurt them, finding peace must come through other avenues.