Monday, May 15, 2023

The Disappearance and Murder of Trish Haynes


Trish Haynes was ready for a new start during early 2018. The then-25-year-old had been spending time in Stuart, Florida with her family after living in North Woodstock, New Hampshire for several years. According to family members, Trish planned to make a more permanent move to Florida at some point, but there was a court case in New Hampshire that was holding her back. In January of 2018, Trish returned to New Hampshire to attend required court dates. She was looking forward to the day she could return to Florida and have a fresh start in a new location. Unfortunately, that day never came.

Trish had spent the years of 2014 to 2017 in and off-and-on relationship with a man named Chris Hughes. Their relationship was toxic, and several people noticed signs that Chris had been abusing Trish. In 2017, Trish went to police to file a complaint against him. Chris was subsequently charged with domestic assault. However, Chris was later able to convince Trish to drop the charges against him. Detectives pleaded with Trish to continue with the case and to testify against Chris, but she ultimately ended up recanting her account. 

The North Woodstock authorities were not happy about Trish recanting her complaint, and as a result they charged her with filing a false police report. When she returned to New Hampshire for her planned court date, she arranged to stay with someone in Rumney. Rumney is a very remote area near Mountain State Park. The closest city is an hour's drive away, and the cell phone reception at Trish's host's house was not great. After Trish's court date was postponed until April 2018, she decided to look for somewhere else to stay. She had been reconnecting on Facebook with an old friend from high school named Ashley Smith. By the end of January, Trish decided to stay with Ashley and her husband Doug at their home in Grafton.

After moving in with the Smith's, Trish fell completely out-of-touch with her family members. It appears that her phone stopped functioning, and any brief communications her family had with her occurred on Ashley's phone. Trish's final confirmed conversation with her family occurred on May 16th, 2018. Trish's biological grandmother/adoptive mother Sandy had suffered a heart attack, so Trish used Ashley's phone to call her. According to Sandy, the conversation was very brief, and she could hear Ashley pressuring Trish to get off the phone. 

After that conversation, Trish's loved ones never saw or heard from her again. She was reported missing on July 6th, 2018 - but the public did not hear any reports about her disappearance until August 29th, 2018. A week after that, search teams searched Grant's Pond in Grafton and removed two large crates from the water. Inside the crates, police found a discarded washer/dryer combo with dismembered human remains inside. It took months, but by January 2019, those remains were positively linked to Trish Haynes. She had been murdered.

A girl from New Hampshire.

Trish was raised in New Hampshire by her biological grandmother, Sandy Tewksbury. She was very close with her family members, especially her great aunt Valorie Haynes-Alvarez, who lived seasonally between New Hampshire and Florida. Trish and Sandy were very close as well. At some point after Trish graduated from high school, Sandy and her husband moved full time to Florida. Trish remained in New Hampshire. 

According to Trish's loved ones, she was a kind girl but was often too trusting in relationships. Her friends believe she often overlooked red flags. Many people noticed red flags when Trish began dating Chris Hughes - but Trish continued to try and make their relationship work. 

An abusive relationship.

Trish met Chris Hughes while she was in her early 20s. They lived together in North Woodstock for a few years. During this time, Trish and Chris also worked at a restaurant. The employers and co-workers alike often noticed Trish coming to work with several bruises on her body. Many suspected that Chris was abusive towards Trish on a regular basis. Certain reports state that at one point, Chris even forced Trish to shave her head. 

Trish's loved ones were relieved when she had finally decided to go to the police about Chris. It seemed that after he was charged with domestic assault, Trish was ready to move on for good. However, Chris repeatedly apologized and begged Trish to drop the charges. She reluctantly agreed, which ended up hurting her even further - as police subsequently charged her with filing a false report. 

Family members encouraged Trish to stay in Florida and try and work out the legal matters from afar. Still, Trish insisted on returning to New Hampshire to try and get the matter over with quicker. This decision would unfortunately cost Trish her life.

The Smith's.

Doug and Ashley Ruff Smith

Most reports state that Trish and Ashley Ruff met in high school. Ashley herself said that they had known each other since childhood. In 2018, Trish and Ashley reconnected on Facebook. While staying in Rumney, Trish expressed her feelings of isolation from staying in a place so remote. It was then that Ashley offered for Trish to come stay with her and her family in Grafton. Trish accepted the offer.

It appears that Trish did not know what she was getting herself into when she moved in with the Smith's. She did not like the isolation of living in Rumney, but it turns out that Grafton is similarly remote. It's also an hour's drive away from Concord. Ashley and Doug were living there in a rented house on a plot of land.
Ashley was pregnant with her sixth child, and the other five children were also living in the house.

Both Ashley and Doug have a criminal record as well. Ashley's previous charges are mostly nonviolent in nature. Doug's charges, on the other hand, are a bit more serious. He has been a registered sex offender since 2009, after he was convicted of sexual assault at the age of 21. Doug has been convicted of several other felonies as well, including violations of restraining orders and physical assault. 

As previously stated, Trish's communication with her family members dwindled significantly after she moved in with Ashley and Doug. After that final phone call on May 16th, Trish's family members repeatedly tried to get in touch with her through Ashley. At certain points, Ashley told them that Trish wanted nothing to do with them anymore. Trish's grandmother Sandy knew this was out of character for her, so she asked Ashley if she could speak with Trish directly. Ashley told Sandy that Trish wasn't around; she had moved to Vermont with a new boyfriend. 

That same month, Trish's great aunt Valorie Haynes-Alvarez returned to Concord, New Hampshire after spending the winter in Florida. Valorie had learned that Trish had not shown up for her April court date, which was a huge red flag. She decided to go to Grafton to try and track her or Ashley down, but she didn't have any luck. At that point, Valorie thought that Trish had possibly gotten back together with Chris Hughes and was too embarrassed to tell her family. Valorie then decided to contact Chris, who said he actually had not heard from her in months. 

The worries for Trish continued to build throughout all of May and June 2018. Sandy continued to push Ashley and Doug for answers, but they continued to be vague. At the end of June, Ashley checked into a psychiatric ward. Once she returned, she had one final conversation with Sandy, during which she said, "if you file a missing person's report, you’ll never see your granddaughter again." When pressed for more information, Ashley said "I can’t handle this – I just got out of a psychiatric ward." Sandy, who was extremely concerned at this point, contacted the New Hampshire police. 

After Trish was reported missing, multiple people came forward saying that they had seen her being abused in the Smith household. Some said that they witnessed Doug slapping Trish. Others claimed they witnessed both Ashley and Doug manipulating Trish. One particular witness said that "Ashley and Doug had manipulated and taken control over Trish, beating her and forcing her to clean and take care of the kids. They apparently used her social security money and “pimped her out” to their friends to 'earn her keep'."

Suspicions inevitably fell upon Ashley and Doug once the public was made aware of Trish's disappearance. Both denied involvement in her disappearance. In August 2018, Ashley spoke to reporters from WMUR and expressed concern for Trish. During the interview, she said that she and Trish had been best friends since childhood, and she was worried sick about her. Ashley also said that she had not seen Trish since "June or July". In reality, it was a well before that. 

The discovery of remains.

In early September 2018, investigators received a tip that sent them to Grant's Pond in Grafton. During this search, investigators found the crates containing dismembered human remains. Detectives immediately believed that the remains belonged to Trish, but they did not announce this to the public - nor did they mention finding any remains whatsoever.

That same month, investigators asked Trish's grandmother Sandy to submit a DNA sample. Sandy provided said sample, unbeknownst that investigators would be comparing it to the human remains found in Grant's Pond. It was Sandy's DNA that helped positively link the remains to Trish. 

Three months later, in January 2019, investigators broke the devastating news to Sandy that Trish's remains had been found. However, as the investigation was still ongoing, detectives asked Sandy to not disclose this news to anyone. Sandy asked if she could share the new with Valorie, which was allowed - as long as they both kept the secret. 

Over the following months, both Sandy and Valorie had to pretend that Trish was still missing. Instead of grieving the loss, they had to act as if they were still searching. By summer of 2019, Valorie had grown tired of waiting. On July 10th, 2019, she contacted local news media and arranged to do an interview regarding Trish's case. Police must've caught wind of this, as that very same day, they announced that they had found Trish's remains. They stated that her date of death is believed to be May 18th, 2018.

The prevailing theories.

By the time it was announced that Trish's remains had been found, many people speculated that Ashley and Doug were responsible for her death. In fact, there is a widespread belief that Trish died inside the Smith home. 

It is now well-known that both Ashley and Doug were abusive towards Trish. However, many stated that Ashley was a bit crueler than Doug. Trish was claustrophobic, and as a joke Ashley liked to lock her inside an unused freezer that was stored in the basement. The freezer was kept shut with a padlock, and at times, Ashley would lock Trish inside.

Many believe that on May 18th, 2018, Ashley locked Trish in the freezer yet again. This time, she left Trish there while she and Doug went out for the day. When the couple returned home, they found Trish dead inside the freezer. She had suffocated to death. Upon returning home and discovering that Trish was dead, it is believed that Ashley and Doug dismembered Trish before hiding her remains in a washer/dryer combo piece. Then, they disposed of the machine in Grant's Pond.

Another theory is that Trish was accidentally shot with a bow-and-arrow, by someone associated with Ashley and Doug during a drug-fueled bonfire. The other partygoers reportedly witnessed the event, and some might have even helped with the dismemberment and disposal of Trish's remains.

Neither theory has been confirmed, but both point fingers and Ashley and Doug. Despite these theories, Ashley and Doug have yet to be charged with anything related to Trish's murder.

Continuing legal troubles.

In August 2019, Doug Smith allegedly fired a gun at a moving vehicle. After this, a warrant was obtained for his arrest for both brandishing/firing a weapon and possessing a weapon as a convicted felon. Doug turned himself in on September 5th, 2019. He was then charged with "
reckless conduct, possessing a weapon as a felon, and several misdemeanors of criminal threatening, mischief and theft." Doug posted bail after his arraignment and went home.

While awaiting court proceedings for those charges, Doug continued to get into trouble with the law. He failed to re-register as a sex offender, and he also was given voter fraud charges after he registered to vote in two different counties. Doug was once again taken behind bars, and once again he posted bail.

In January 2020, Doug reportedly violently raped a woman in Croydon. After the warrant for those charges became active, he went on the run. Doug remained missing until June of 2020, when police discovered he'd been staying with friends in Vermont, using the name Robert as an alias. When police apprehended him, he was accompanied by a woman who claimed to be his sister - but the woman was very obviously Ashley.

Doug is currently serving concurrent sentences for his various charges and will be in prison until, at the earliest, 2030. Ashley lost custody of 5 out of her 6 children. Still, neither of them has been charged with anything related to Trish's murder. 

Where the case stands today.

As of today, no arrests have been made for the murder of Trish Haynes. Most have all but concluded that Ashley and Doug are responsible. Trish's loved ones are hoping that one day justice will be served. They have vowed to continue the fight until they can see Trish's killer(s) convicted.

If you have any information that could help solve the murder of Trish Haynes, please contact the New Hampshire State Police at 603-223-4381.

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