“Bye, baby Bunting,
Daddy’s gone a-hunting,
Gone to get a rabbit skin
To wrap the baby Bunting in.”
~ Nursery rhyme (1805)
On the morning of September 12, 2004 in the small town of Kittitas, Washington, four little girls woke up to a note commanding them to stay away from their brother Cody’s room. He was being punished, it read. Chairs were strangely placed in the hallway. They were treated to movies in the living room the entire day.
Little did they know, their brother was not in his room, nor was he checked on until 5:00 p.m. that evening. His parents would report him as a runaway about an hour later, although 14 years later and a slew of evidence would prove otherwise.
“Stay a child while you can be a child.”
~ Stephen Sondheim
Richard Lee Haynes, Jr., known as Cody, was born April 16, 1993 in Littleton, Colorado. He was a beautiful baby with brown hair and green eyes. He grew to be a rambunctious, creative child who made his own candy, loved camping, Legos, swimming, and being outside.
“Cody wanted to be a police officer when he grew up,” Cody’s cousin, Jamey Owens, says. “With his determination, it could have been a reality.”
However, Cody’s tumultuous childhood prevented his dreams from coming to fruition. The children were allegedly abused by their father, and Child Protective Services had been contacted two different times in regards to the children’s wellbeing. (Ironically, Richard Haynes Sr.’s’ girlfriend had formerly worked for CPS.) Cody and his four sisters were homeschooled and extremely sheltered as well, but according to family members, Cody was treated differently.
“A neighbor would see the girls outside, but never Cody,” Jamey recalls. “In fact, the neighbor had no idea a boy lived in the home until he went missing.”
On the night of September 11, 2004, police report that Cody got into an argument with his father’s live-in girlfriend, Marla, about doing the dishes. He was forced to remain in the kitchen until almost midnight as a punishment, then sent to his room.
Eighteen hours later, Richard Haynes would report his son as a runaway. He alluded to this theory as stating there was a missing backpack filled with clothes, but the police would later find that bag and Cody’s bicycle in a shed behind the house.
After building up trust with the police department, Cody’s oldest sister would later tell officials that her brother had been beaten mercilessly by their father that night.
“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed,
and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out to the open.”
~ Luke 8:17
In the early morning hours of September 12, 2004, Richard Haynes took the family van and decided to drive to “look for car parts.”
It was 2:30 in the morning. He drove two hundred and fifty miles throughout the state of Washington, returning home at 4:00 that afternoon.
He didn’t contact police about his missing son until two hours later.
Within days, a community-wide search team set out to look for the eleven-year-old boy. Curiously, Richard Haynes and his girlfriend did not participate. No traces of the boy were found. Marla allegedly did not allow Cody’s sisters to be questioned by police; a week later, the four girls would be removed from the home and placed into foster care.
The next month, police requested a formal interview with Richard Haynes, but they refused to speak without their lawyer present.
Valentine’s Day of the following year, the police served a search warrant to scour for blood stains and other evidence in the kitchen of the apartment. According to police reports, the kitchen floor had been replaced – something the apartment landlord did not know about nor give consent to.
The van that Cody’s father had taken the evening of Cody’s disappearance had been sold, but police later recovered it to search for evidence. Bones were eventually found in the area, but were not a match. A computer was also seized from the apartment. A “significant discovery” was found inside the home at one point, but the police have refused to reveal what this clue might be or how it might affect the investigation.
“Bye, baby Cody,
Daddy’s on the roady,
Gone to get ‘car parts’
To destroy your life and break our hearts.”
Each year, residents of Kittitas come together for a vigil to keep Cody’s voice alive.
Richard Haynes and Marla do not attend. They wrote a note for Cody and posted it on the back door of their apartment, but it is unknown what it says – or if it remains there.
Where could Cody be? With all the evidence stacked up, it is unlikely he ran away. He did not take his bicycle nor any other belongings, and there have been no sightings of him. Allegations of a brutal beating, ripped up floorboards, and a mysterious fourteen-hour trip in the dead of night by Cody’s father are all too suspicious. Richard Haynes and his now-wife have kept a low profile and refuse to speak about Cody’s disappearance.
Is it possible the “significant discovery” is waiting for one more piece of evidence in order to convict someone in Cody’s likely homicide? Are the police waiting for a body to turn up? Where is justice for Cody Haynes?
Many people, including Cody’s cousins, have a grim outlook as to the theory behind Cody’s disappearance.
“We believe Cody died as the result of the beating he suffered that night. His trip to ‘look for car parts’ was not a coincidence. He was gone for fourteen hours and then waited another two hours to report him to police after returning home,” Jamey Owens states.
Regardless of the lack of progress in the case, Cody’s loved ones remain determined to find answers. A $5,000 reward remains posted by the City of Kittitas. The small town refuses to forget the green-eyed boy that captured their attention and their hearts in autumn of 2004 – no matter how many years have passed.
Jamey Owens also refuses to forget Cody Haynes, and has a message for the person responsible for his disappearance.
“I will spend the rest of my life getting the truth for Cody,” she assures. “I will never go away or give up. Somebody knows something about his disappearance and they can’t keep quiet forever. Set yourself free and do the right thing!”
She ends with a vow to her baby cousin: “I love you with all my heart, Cody. Never forget that. I’ll see you in my dreams…pinky promise.”