COLE — A homeless sex offender who spent much of the last decade behind bars has been linked to a bizarre McClain County death that had stumped investigators for months.
Michael B. Hair committed suicide just two weeks after authorities believe he took the life of 24-year-old Rachelle Lyn Flowers at her home near Cole in April. He is now linked to the young mother’s death by DNA, according to multiple sources.
Hair was 46 when he killed himself near a Goldsby mobile home park. He was a registered sex offender and burglar who served nearly a decade behind bars for assault, attempted rape and indecent exposure, court records show. His past convictions include burglary, grand larceny and obtaining merchandise under false pretenses.
Clinton Flowers, the victim’s husband, said Tuesday evening that he is upset that somebody like Hair was free and walking around.
“Why is this guy even free out here ...and what is wrong with us as a society?” he said.
“I mean, the guy’s been arrested 11 times. What happened to three strikes?”
McClain County Sheriff Don Hewett said Hair left his DNA “all over the crime scene” when he tried to burn down the farmhouse where the victim lived with her husband.
“There were some items around the house ... that we knew he had touched ... and that’s how we got the DNA,” Hewett told The Oklahoman on Tuesday.
“Once the DNA came back with a hit, that’s what we’ve been trying to do ...go back and see if these two knew each other or what.”
“And, as of this time, it does not appear that they knew each other.”
Rachelle Flowers was found April 9 by her husband, who had arrived home from a carpentry job on the north side of Oklahoma County. Clinton Flowers said he’d been trying to reach his wife by phone and text throughout that day.
By the time he reached his home near Cole, he said there were sheriff’s deputies and other first responders all over his front yard.
Two deputies on patrol had seen the woman’s vehicle with its doors open, went to investigate and smelled a strong odor of propane coming from inside the home.
He and his wife had only one key to the house, Flowers said, so he said he had to remove a window-mounted air conditioner and break the window to gain access to his home.
Flowers later discovered the back door had been kicked in. He thinks his wife interrupted a burglary. Like Hewett, Flowers also does not think there is a connection between his wife and Hair.
Inside the home, Flowers found his wife in one of the bedrooms. An autopsy report prepared by the state medical examiner described the scene in detail.
“(Rachelle Flowers) was in (the) prone position with ropes and a belt around the neck, tying both hands and ankles around the back,” the report states. “There was no obvious evidence of a struggle.” Investigators told the family she had not been sexually assaulted.
The autopsy report would go on to state that Rachelle Flowers was tied up with a “black leather woven whip” and that there were “no injuries of the wrist, ankles and neck.”
Chai S. Choi, the medical doctor who performed the autopsy, concluded the “death is regarded to be asphyxiation.”
McClain County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said Hair will not be charged with murder because he is deceased. He said there is no known motive in the killing.
Stan Florence, director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said agents working the case still are searching for answers.
“We’re hoping this will allow anyone with information about the case to come forward and help us figure out if a correlation exists between these two,” Florence said.
“We just want to know if there’s any additional information about this case. If there is, we’d like to know about it.”
Man’s checkered past
State Corrections Department records show Hair was in Oklahoma prisons from 2001 to 2009.
In the early morning hours of April 23 — exactly two weeks after Rachelle Flowers was found dead — Hair stepped out of his pickup, walked into the middle of the road and shot himself in the head with a handgun, Hewett said.
Hewett said Hair did not leave a note or give any reasons for the suicide.
“He had a history of substance abuse. ... He was a registered sex offender, registered with the Blanchard Police Department,” the sheriff said Tuesday.
“We heard he may have been depressed at the time, and that he was on drugs, but we’re not sure right now.”
Hair had been arrested eight times since the late 1990s, mostly for “petty stuff,” Hewett said. He was not a suspect in the death of Rachelle Flowers until his DNA profile matched evidence collected at the crime scene.
“We did have a witness who described seeing someone who matched Mr. Hair’s general description, but we didn’t have no name, didn’t know where he went or where he come from and we searched that whole area,” Hewett said.
“But Michael Hair is our primary suspect. Because of the positive DNA. Until any other information comes in, we believe he was the perpetrator.”