A Woman's Husband Hired A Hitman To Murder Her... But She Gruesomely Strangled Him Instead

A bad breakup can be emotionally difficult without adding things like attempted murder to the mix, but Susan Kuhnhausen's breakup story is more startlingly traumatic than most. In 2006, after she kicked her husband out of the house, he sent a hitman in after her but she not only survived, she showed him who was boss and now she's using her horrifying experience as a woman who survived a murder attempt to help others who have gone through similar circumstances. 

Susan met her husband Mike Kuhnhausen in 1988 when her mother placed a classified personals ad in the local paper. It was love at first sight, and the two married within a year. But time took its toll on the relationship, and in early 2006, Mike moved out of their house.

On September 6, 2006, Susan was returning home from work at the hospital when she found a strange, bearded man lying in wait for her inside her own house. He lunged toward her with a claw hammer, but her trauma-trained, self-defense instincts revved immediately. She didn't just turn the tables on her attacker, she showed him who was really the boss by strangling him to death. She used her life-long background as an ER nurse combined with a knowledge of self defense to ward off a surprise would-be assassin in a 15-minute battle to the death until help arrived. It turns out the assailant had been hired by her own soon-to-be-ex-husband. But Mike had grossly underestimated his wife.

Since her attack, Kuhnhausen, now using her maiden name Susan Walters, has started her own organization to help fellow victims of trauma and has reportedly beefed up the security around her own home so she'll never have to fight for her life again. Here are the astonishing facts surrounding Susan Kuhnhausen‘s attempted murder, and the strength of a woman whose life is at stake.

  • Her Fight Against Her Would-Be Killer Was A Brutal 15-Minute Melee

    Her Fight Against Her Would-Be Killer Was A Brutal 15-Minute Melee
    Photo: KOIN 6 / YouTube

    Fighting is exhausting, both physically and mentally. Yet Susan Kuhnhausen and Edward Haffey — her attacker — fought for 15 minutes straight. In the world of professional boxing, that equates to five full rounds, and in the UFC, that’s three rounds of head-to-head combat. Except in Kuhnhausen’s case, there were no rules, and this was a fight to the death. 

    During the fight, they disarmed each other of the hammer multiple times, but her training and skill led her to use it far more efficiently. While he used the blunt side to hit her, she recalled advice from her father about using the claw side to do more damage — which she did. When she had the hammer, she managed to hit him three or four times in the head.

    At one point during the fight, her would-be killer had the absolute upper hand. He stood over her with the hammer in his hand, ready to land the final blow. But she persevered, pulled him to the ground, biting him all over: his arm, his sides, his thigh, and even his crotch. Her thoughts was to leave physical evidence of their fight on him in case she didn’t survive. But the adrenaline that was rushing through her made her like a “live wire” and she kept on attacking him.

    At one point she was on top of him, arm around his neck, and demanded to know who sent him in exchange for an ambulance. He only grunted in response, so she choked him until he stopped moving. She picked up the hammer and fled to her neighbor’s house who then called the police. When asked if she needed an ambulance, the response was simply, "No, she's a nurse. She says call an ambulance for the guy. He may be dead."

  • She Was Struck On The Head With A Claw Hammer But Kept On Fighting

    Photos of the crime scene show the bloody, brutal mess that resulted from their melee. In fact, Haffey landed the first blow — a hammer strike right to Kuhnhausen's left temple. She responded by trying to knock him down and while they traded blows, she simply kept shouting at him: “Who sent you here?” His only response — besides fighting back — was to say: “You’re strong.” Those words also ended up being his last.

    Perhaps what’s even more astonishing was that an autopsy of her attacker revealed that he had massive amounts of cocaine in his system. Cocaine is a stimulant known to produce violent psychosis and aggressive behavior among its users. Kuhnhausen not only fought off her juiced-up attacker, but overpowered him as well. Never mess with Susan Kuhnhausen.

  • The Hit Man Was A Violent Felon And Crack Addict

    The Hit Man Was A Violent Felon And Crack Addict
    Photo: Anderson / YouTube

    Edward Haffey was more than just a disgruntled Vietnam vet — he was also a deranged, drug-addled ex-convict. He was 59, five-foot-nine, and weighed 190 pounds on the day of the attack. Only a few years prior, in 2003, Haffey was released from the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. There, he spent nine long years as punishment for his role in the brutal death of an ex-girlfriend in 1991. According to the police, his rap sheet was extensive. He was also a known cocaine abuser, and in fact was found to have lethal amounts of cocaine in his system on the day he died. 

    Haffey was a horrible person who died in a horrible way. And even Haffey's family was sympathetic to Susan's traumatic experience.

    "Although this was a terrible thing that happened, no one in this family has any bad feelings toward you. You did what you were forced to do and in doing so, you spared many from the same trauma you experienced."

  • Her Former Husband Hired The Hitman For $50,000

    Her Former Husband Hired The Hitman For $50,000
    Video: YouTube

    One of the most shocking things that was discovered about this attempted murder was the fact that the assassin was contracted by a person Susan loved — her husband Mike Kuhnhausen. Susan and Mike met in 1988 via a classified ad, and ended up marrying less than a year later. Unfortunately, their marriage began to disintegrate not long afterwards, and led to a mutual sort of estrangement with each other.

    By the time Susan was attacked, Mike was no longer living in their home, and was out of a job. Bitter about being left out in the cold, he reached out to Edward Haffey with a vengeful proposal. Mike met Haffey through a veterans’ counseling group, and from there the two formed a sort of bond; both men had served in Vietnam. Mike even provided Haffey with a janitorial position at the adult entertainment business where he worked. It was because of this rapport that Mike asked Haffey if he would kill his wife by making it look like a burglary gone wrong. The sum they agreed on was $50,000, payable after the deed was done.

  • Kuhnhausen Practiced Self Defense With Other Nurses At Her Hospital

    Susan Kuhnhausen probably wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for her training in ER work as well as in self defense. She and her fellow nurses regularly went to self defense classes provided by the hospital they worked for - Providence Portland Hospital. 

    There, they learned what they needed to know to keep themselves alive if they were ever attacked, such as how to get out of headlocks. And although she attended, she was also skeptical about it all, and even wondered to herself if she'd ever even remember all of it.

    Perhaps to her own astonishment, she did! When she was attacked by her hammer-wielding would-be assassin, she kept close to him in order to keep his swings from being too damaging. She was also successful in disarming him multiple times during their agonizing 15-minute brawl. And perhaps most importantly, her self defense training along with years of experience as an ER nurse taught her to approach extreme situations with a clear head. Her ability to keep her composure and not panic allowed her to maintain control of the fight right from the get-go.

  • Her Ex Was Motivated To Kill Because He Was Broke And Facing Divorce

    In 2005, Susan Kuhnhausen was tired of her husband’s despondent and controlling behavior, and kicked him out of their house. In 2006, she asked him to finalize their divorce, but all that did was make him furious. Unfortunately for Mike, he had lost his job, and had nowhere to go; he was broke and alone.

    So he planned to kill his wife — not for the insurance money, however. He couldn’t claim any of it as she listed her brother as her beneficiary, not him. Instead, he wanted to kill her so he could reclaim their house, which at the time was valued at $300,000. To him, her being gone solved his problems and so reached out to Edward Haffey with a plan to get rid of her.