Michael Kuhnhausen's evil plan to kill his wife Susan went horribly wrong when she fought back and killed the man he'd paid to bludgeon her to death with a hammer.
Covered in blood that was pouring from a huge wound on the side of her head, middle aged nurse Susan grappled with the bearded intruder on her bedroom floor.
As he wildly swung at her with a hammer, she remembered something her late dad had once told her: "If you’re using a hammer to hurt someone, use the claw end."
Taking an opportunity to snatch the tool, and with her father's advice ringing in her ears, she managed to climb on top of the stinking stranger and began smashing him back.
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Susan later told the Mirror that he goaded her as she fought to survive during the incident in 2006.
She said: “He looked at me with these evil eyes and said: ‘You’re strong.’
"I managed to get on top of him and hit him three or four times with the claw in the back of the head. But he was like a wild animal. The most terrifying thing were his eyes, I thought: he’s here to kill me.
“But before he killed me, I needed to know something. ‘Who sent you?’ I asked. This was definitely no robbery.”
The assailant, later identified as Edward Dalton Haffey, 59, never did reveal who had paid him to eliminate her.
“Maybe I grabbed his leg, maybe he tripped,” she said, “but suddenly, I rolled on top of him, made myself the weapon, and pushed him face down.
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“I grabbed his throat and squeezed for my life, yelling, ‘Tell me who sent you! Do it or die.’” But the killer never said a word – instead he turned blue. Susan had crushed his windpipe.
Although this sounds like the plot of a Hollywood thriller, it very much happened in real life, the violent crescendo of a loveless marriage which had turned poisonous.
Susan and Michael had first met through a personal ad in 1986 and married two years later.
But over time, Vietnam war veteran Michael changed from the charming and attentive man she thought was "Mr Right" in to a selfish, controlling bully who refused to socialise with her.
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After trying counselling they separated in 2005, with Susan telling Michael she wanted to make their split permanent the following year.
He took the news badly, and called upon the services of Haffey – who he had met at a veterans counselling group – to bump her off.
At his trial he was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for solicitation to commit aggravated murder.
Susan, who was terrified that he would kill her when he was released, bravely spoke to him in front of the court.
She said: “If I ever believed that you deserved to be dead, I’d have at least had the guts totold kill you myself.”
The couple subsequently divorced once he was jailed, and to her relief, Michael died while behind bars just months before he was due for release.
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