NBC’s ‘Dateline: Deadly Affair’ follows how Tami Reay was murdered in a cold-blooded manner in Pierre, South Dakota, in February 2006. The episode features the slain mother’s daughter, Haylee Reay, talking about how she overcame the trauma and is now a victims’ rights activist on her own accord. So, who is Haylee, and what does she do now? Let’s find out.
Who is Haylee Reay?
Tamera “Tami” Dawnell Burns of Wyoming met her future husband, Brad Reay, through one of her sisters. She lived with him and their daughter, Haylee, in Billings, Montana, before moving to Pierre, South Dakota, in 2004. The 41-year-old mother worked part-time at a local Kmart when she was reported missing on February 8, 2006. Her mother, Bonnie Burns, got concerned when she did not make her daily call that day and phoned her workplace to learn she was not there.
However, it was not Brad or their 12-year-old daughter, Haylee, who reported Tami missing, but one of her co-workers, Brian Clark. Her naked body was discovered two days later, on February 10, in a grove of trees about 10 miles from Pierre. According to her autopsy report, Tami’s killer had stabbed her 37 times, including five times in the back, and slit her throat. The investigators were sure the perpetrator was someone the victim knew, as indicated by the evident overkilling.
The investigators turned toward Brian’s 911 call recording, where he told the dispatcher he suspected “foul play” in Tami’s disappearance. When asked to explain his apprehensions, he confessed they were having an affair behind their spouses’ backs. Nevertheless, the officers debated whether the confession was genuine or a ploy to derail the investigation. But Brian was eventually ruled out even though he met with Tami the night before the murder since he had a concrete alibi – he was at a local basketball game with his wife and daughter.
Finally, the investigators found evidence to convict Brad in his wife’s gruesome murder. He was arrested almost immediately after she was reported missing, yet the case took a wild turn when the officers received a letter that incriminated Brian in the homicide. The anonymous letter claimed Tami had been raped the night she disappeared, and a condom was still lodged inside her body. While the medical examiner did locate the condom, the evidence inside was not fresh enough for DNA analysis.
Haylee Reay is Advocating for Victims’ Rights
The investigators found that when Brad was in jail, his twin brother, Bret Reay, had written the letter to absolve him. When the latter was arrested and charged with being an accessory to murder, he agreed to testify against his sibling. However, during his January 2007 trial, Brad blamed their teenage daughter for murdering her mother. He claimed he found Haylee with a knife in her hand, standing over her mother’s dead body in her bed in the middle of the night.
Brad alleged Haylee had no memory of what she did and that his only crime was trying to cover it up. During his March 2007 sentencing, he claimed, “I gave up my life because I love her.” Regardless, the jury refused to believe his absurd story and convicted him of first-degree murder. He was handed a life sentence with no chance of parole in March 2007.
The court also barred Brad from calling or writing to his late wife’s family. Tami’s sister, Holly Givens, was surprised he blamed Haylee and asked, “What kind of a father lies and blames so viciously his flesh and blood?” Besides, Tami’s daughter testified at her father’s trial that the family cat awakened her on the night her mother disappeared. She stated she saw her father standing in the doorway of her bedroom with a bunch of clothes under an arm, and the following day he was doing laundry.
Tami’s mother, Bonnie, also shamed Brad for blaming his daughter, saying, “I’m surprised you didn’t blame the cat.” After her father’s sentencing, Haylee lived with her maternal grandparents in Lander, Wyoming. Now known as Haylee Cole, she is in her late 20s and is a proud mother. She has become a Victims’ Rights Advocate and TEDx Speaker, sharing fundraising initiatives for noble causes.
Read More: Tami Reay Murder: Where is Brad Reay Now?