Credit: Utah County Jail
Police: Man Released Because of COVID-19 Broke Into Woman’s Home, Threatened to Cut Off Her Head

Police: Man Released Because of COVID-19 Broke Into Woman’s Home, Threatened to Cut Off Her Head

A Utah man released early from a halfway house due to fears of spreading the coronavirus has been re-arrested for breaking into a home on Thursday, tying up the homeowner and threatening to kill her, according to authorities.

Joshua Haskell, 42, was arrested at gunpoint after police say he broke into a home in American Fork, his town of residence, two days after being released from a halfway house.

The incident comes as prisons across the country have begun discharging prisoners following pressure from left-leaning organizations.

Some civil rights advocacy groups have called for governments to respond to the outbreak of the flu-like coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, by mass releasing prisoners, reducing arrests and limiting immigration enforcement.

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Haskell, has a lengthy criminal history, is charged with first-degree felonies of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery and third-degree felonies of aggravated kidnapping, possession of a weapon by a restricted person and drug possession.

“He was suddenly released”

According to a police affidavit, Haskell was previously convicted of drug-related crimes at least four other times.

“It is of note that Haskell had recently been incarcerated at the Utah State Prison after previously being released on parole and committing a parole violation. Within in the last few days, Haskell was released from the Utah State Prison to a halfway house. … However due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, he was suddenly released on [March 17],” police said in their affidavit.

Charging documents say Haskell “forcibly entered a home … (and) using a large, serrated knife, he threatened the homeowner and tied her up with shoelaces.”

The unidentified homeowner told police she awoke to a creaking floor board and discovered a man in her room holding a knife.

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“The victim began screaming and yelling, at which point the male told her to be quiet or he was going to cut her head off,” the affidavit states.

Haskell bound the woman’s wrists and ankles. He said that he was taking her bank cards, cash and car, and if she gave him the wrong PIN numbers, he would return to kill her, police said.

The woman’s son heard his mother’s screams and called police. When they arrived, Haskell was still in the bedroom.

In an apparent attempt to fool officers, he climbed into bed and told the victim to tell police he was her “lover,” according to authorities.

As he moved into the bed, the woman fled downstairs. Police then arrested Haskell.

The victim told police “she was sure she was going to die and that she was just waiting for the suspect to stab her.”

Cover image: Joshua Haskell. (Utah County Jail)

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