ruth hautOctober 7, 2019 | By Nathan Dean

This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class. The student credited above wrote this story as a class project.

Dr. Ruth Haut was beloved throughout her community. She helped countless people as a chiropractor. Her family claims she would do anything to help a loved one.

Ruth had the ability to fill the room with laughter. “Her sense of humor always cracks you up,” Jean Wagner said of her partner. “One year, Ruth had me pick out the funniest looking dress for her sister, Barbara. The dress had turkeys on it and that’s how I met her sister.”

“That’s how funny she was. She always liked to make people laugh,” Wagner recalled. “So last Thanksgiving, I wore a turkey hat in her honor.”

Not only did Ruth enjoy making people laugh, she had a very strong relationship with her family. Especially her sisters. The Haut family was incredibly close.

“Ruth loved talking to her sisters,” Wagner said. “She would call them almost every day.”

A caring, humorous lady was taken from her community, friends, and family in early 1992.

With a soft tone, Wagner shares her memory of February 26, the day Ruth didn’t come home from work.

“I was going to work, and she was going to make pork chops for dinner that night. I left during the afternoon of the incident. The chiropractor she worked at was only a block or two away. I called the office and it went to a robotic voice message. When I got home, her car was not there. That’s when I knew something wasn’t right.”

Dr. Haut worked at the Robinson Chiropractic Clinic in the southern portion of Kissimmee, Florida. It was there that she was kidnapped by her assailant.

The following day, a child riding on a school bus reportedly spotted something in an orange grove near St. Cloud, a neighboring city across Lake Tohopekaliga.

Dr. Ruth Haut was 41.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office website has Haut’s case listed and shares a bit more information of what happened that night. Ruth Haut’s ATM card was used at an ATM in Vero Beach, roughly 100 miles away.

The ATM cameras captured the suspect wearing a “green short-sleeved shirt with two buttoned pockets on each side and a hooded sweatshirt” covering their face.

It is believed that the ATM was used before Haut’s body was dumped back in St. Cloud. The round-trip from Kissimmee to Vero Beach and back to St. Cloud is roughly 3 hours.

Wagner and Haut lived together for four years prior to the incident. The nearly three decades since her partner and friend was taken have been difficult. Wagner remembers the good times they had. She keeps a positive outlook on life, much like Ruth was known for.

Stephen Madonna was only 4 years old when his aunt was murdered. Madonna has spent much of his life questioning what happened in the unsolved murder of his Aunt Ruth.

“In 2012, the case was reopened,” Madonna said. “I got in touch with law enforcement to see more things that they could do. I even contacted governors and FBI agents. Just not a whole lot has come out of it.”

Madonna continues to stay in contact with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in order to keep Ruth’s name on people’s minds and to make sure her story is never forgotten.

“I keep bothering them,” Madonna said. “One of the lieutenants told me that he wants to solve her case by the time he retires from the Sheriff’s Office. That gives me some hope.”

On the 27th anniversary of Ruth’s passing, her family gathered in her honor. Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson gathered alongside the mourning family. He told the News-Gazette that “this case is very much active. We’re trying to generate new leads. Somebody must have seen something.”

Since the passing of Dr. Haut, family members have been running a Facebook page, Justice For Ruth Haut – 1992 Unsolved Cold Case in Osceola County, Florida, and offering a reward for information leading to bringing justice to the case.

“The Facebook page has been somewhat successful so far,” Madonna said. “People have reached out.”

The time without Ruth has been long and disappointing for her friends and loved ones. Although her physical presence is no longer here, Ruth’s family believes that she is still with them spiritually and they refuse to give up.

“We will never stop fighting back,” Wagner said. “I know she is with me every day and I will not stop until I find the person that did this.”

If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Ruth Haut, please contact the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office (407) 348-2222. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a reward upwards of $10,000, call Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.

Research and Impact

Cold cases aren’t simply a pop culture trend meant for entertainment. While the multitude of unsolved murder-centered television and podcast shows continue to pop up at every turn, it’s important to understand that these are real cases, with real victims, and real survivors still suffering years later.

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