Suzan Kuhnhausen is a woman who survived a brutal attack by a hitman hired by her estranged husband in 2006. She fought back and ki*lled the assailant in self-defense, using her skills as an emergency room nurse.

The Attack

Suzan Kuhnhausen got home from a long shift at Oregon’s Providence Portland Medical Center on September 6, 2006. For 30 years, she had worked as an emergency room nurse there. It was from Mike Kuhnhausen, her 18-year-husband, and it said that he was going to the beach. A man was waiting for her behind the door of their bedroom when she went upstairs. The man was 59 years old and had a long history of crime. Mike Kuhnhausen had paid him $50,000 to k*ill her.

Haffey hit Suzan on the head with a claw hammer when he attacked her. He was there to k*ill Suzan, so she fought back with everything she had.

He dropped the hammer, but she hit him in the head, bit him on the arm and thigh, and choked him until he stopped breathing. Suzan has a broken skull, a split lip, and many bruises from the fight that lasted about 15 minutes.

Suzan dashed over to her neighbor’s house and dialed 911. She informed the dispatcher that she had ki*lled an intruder who had attempted to assassinate her. She also stated that she suspected her husband was involved in the plot.

911 dispatcher: “What did she use on him? She strangled him. What else did she do?”

“She choked him,” said Anne Warnock, a neighbor.

“I’m on my way to get help. Do not leave the line.

“She has a hammer here.”

“Do not touch it.” Do not touch it. Don’t do anything else.

“She hit him several times in the head.” That’s the hammer he carried. She hit him and choked him, and now she swears he’s dead.

—A call to 911 on September 6, 2006.

The Investigation

When the police got there, they saw that Haffey was already dead. A backpack with a day planner with Mike’s name and address on it, a rental agreement signed by Mike, and a note that said “Call Mike, Get Letter” were also found.

Mick Kuhnhausen was caught by the police and charged with encouraging aggravated murder. They found out that he hired Haffey through a mutual friend who was also a convicted felon. They also found out that Mike had abused Suzan while they were married and that she had filed for divorce in June 2006.

Mike Kuhnhausen pleaded not guilty and said he had nothing to do with the plan to k*ill people for money. He said he hired Haffey to keep an eye on his wife and get proof for the divorce. He also said he went to the beach because he was sad and thought about kil*ling himself.

But the jury didn’t believe him, and in April 2007 they found him guilty. He was given a 10-year prison sentence. He tried to overturn his conviction, but lost in 2009. His death in prison in 2014 was due to natural causes.


Mike found out that Susan had taken him off of her life insurance policy. The couple’s home was worth about $300,000. He planned to get it after Susan died.

The Aftermath

People like Suzan Kuhnhausen lived through the attack, but she had PTSD, anxiety, and depression afterward. It was her last name that changed, and she moved to a new house.

She kept working as a nurse and also started speaking out for people who had been abused at home. She told her story to the media, spoke at public events, and backed laws that would protect abuse victims.

Walters told Suzan that she didn’t feel bad about kil*ling Haffey because it could have been her or him. She was proud of herself for standing up for herself and ending the danger. For other women who are in abusive relationships, she said she hoped that their story would give them courage to stand up for themselves and get help.

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