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She Tried to Leave: The Tracy Hayden Story

One in four women and one in nine men experience severe domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner (NCADV). Sixteen percent of murder victims are killed by an intimate partner, and two out of three of these victims are women ( When these crimes occur, 70-80% of the time it follows other incidents of physical, mental, psychological, and emotional abuse ( Theresa “Tracy” Fogarty Hayden is one of these victims, and this is her heartbreaking story.

Tracy Fogarty was born in 1960 to R. Patrick and Phyllis Fogarty of Belleville. Tracy was one of seven children. She graduated from Althoff High School in 1978. She continued her education at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, graduating in 1982. She began dating Timothy Hayden in the mid-1980s. Almost as soon as the relationship began, the abuse began. On January 26th, 1985, Timothy was arrested and charged with battery after punching Tracy in the face. When he was arrested, Timothy kicked out the window of the squad car, adding a charge of resisting a peace officer.

At this point, Timothy Hayden already had a long history of criminal behavior. In a plea agreement including other prior charges, Timothy Hayden plead guilty to two counts of resisting a peace officer and spent two weeks in jail. He was further ordered to spend thirty days in alcohol treatment. This was not nearly his first offense. In 1979, he was convicted of burglary. In 1981, he was arrested for battery after hitting a man in the face. This charge was dismissed at the victim’s request. A month later, he was arrested for trespassing after being asked to leave an establishment in Centerville, Illinois, and refusing to leave. This was later dropped when witnessed failed to show up to court.

In 1983, Timothy was arrested for pointing an ice pick at a Saint Clair County sheriff’s deputy. He was charged with aggravated assault, but this charge was later dropped. In 1984, he was arrested for throwing beer bottles inside a bar in Belleville. For this offense, he was charged with disorderly conduct. These are only a few of Timothy’s thirty-five arrests and fifty charges. Most of these charges were either dismissed or reduced as part of plea arrangements. Some of these offenses include domestic violence, driving under the influence, trespassing, criminal damage to property, and possession of marijuana.

For reasons difficult for those outside the situation to understand, Tracy continued her relationship with Timothy Hayden. Perhaps he did the classic, “I’ll never do it again” or even convinced her it was her fault. It wasn’t her fault, and he did do it again. On July 13th, 1985, Tracy pressed charges against Timothy again. This time, he punched her in the face and hit her in the leg and arm with a belt. The charges were later dropped at Tracy’s request. This is not uncommon in cases of domestic violence.

In January of 1986, Timothy Hayden and Theresa “Tracy” Fogarty were granted a marriage license in St. Clair County. The two married and had two children, a son and daughter. The relationship remained tumultuous and abusive. At the end of May 1990, Tracy made the decision to leave her husband, taking her four-year-old son and one-year-old daughter with her. She filed for divorce on June 7th, 1990.

“The reality is that the most dangerous time for a survivor is when they leave the abusive partner” (The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness). For this reason, many victims do not feel safe leaving, answering the ever so popular question, “Why doesn’t she just leave?”. According to The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, there is a seventy-five percent increase in violence when the victim tries to leave the partner. In fact, seventy-five percent of domestic homicides occur during time (The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness).

On June 7th, 1990, Tracy not only filed for divorce, but she asked for an order of protection against her now estranged husband. A temporary order of protection was granted, which was later extended until October of 1990. On June 24th, 1990, Tracy was at the St. Clair Country Club pool with her children when Timothy approached her. Not only did he violate the order of protection, but he also threatened Tracy. At some point, he told her he would kill her before he would let her destroy his family. Tracy contacted authorities and was arrested for violating the order of protection.

Despite this arrest, just six days later Timothy entered the home of Tracy’s father where she was living with her children. He harassed her and scared her. Her father said he brandished a knife, and he was scared for his daughter. Timothy was again arrested for violating the order or protection, for the second time in one week. Somehow, he was released with a court date for both charges pending in September of 1990.

On July 5th, 1990, Tracy and Timothy were in court. Timothy wanted more time with his children, a request Tracy opposed. Tracy told the judge that Timothy had threatened her with a knife, and she feared for her life and the safety of her children. “Knives. (He was) bearing knives. I mean that was done in front of Danny (their son) and he had to come between us” (Tuft, C., 1990). She explained that he had threatened to kill her and anyone who helped break up his family. Timothy’s request for extended visitation with his children was denied.

Shortly after one in the morning on July 27th, 1990, Timothy Hayden entered Dundee’s Restaurant and Pub on West Main in Belleville, Illinois. He noticed his estranged wife, who was having drinks with a few friends. Timothy left the bar and went to another bar nearby. He asked the bartender if he could borrow a knife to fix his bike. The bartender gave him a butter knife, but Timothy said he would need something sharper for the job. The bartender then gave him a butcher knife.

Timothy re-entered Dundee’s and approached his wife. He explained that he just wanted to talk to her, but she refused to talk to him. That is when he began stabbing her in front of her friends and other bar patrons. Bar patrons tackled Timothy, subduing him until police arrived. However, it was too late for Tracy. Theresa “Tracy” Fogarty Hayden was dead at age twenty-nine. She left behind her loving family and two small children.

Tracy’s autopsy showed six stab wounds to the chest, abdomen, and thigh. The bloody knife was found underneath Timothy Hayden, who was being subdued by bar patrons when police arrived. He was immediately placed under arrest and charged with the first-degree murder. Timothy Hayden plead not guilty. At one point, he claimed that Tracy fell on the knife by accident. However, the numerous witnesses to the crime left little doubt of his guilt. On April 16th, 1991, Timothy Hayden was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Tracy Hayden.

In June of 1991, Hayden was sentenced to fifty-five years in prison for the murder. In an emotional response, Tracy’s sister said, “I truly believe that those two innocent children will eventually have to bear the burden if and when their biological father is paroled” (Aubuchon, 1991). Tracy’s family further expressed their sorrow and pain. Above all, the hearts of everyone who knew Tracy broke for her two beautiful children who would never know their mother.

Timothy Hayden’s family members also had an emotional response. His father claimed that his son did not receive a fair trial. He based this opinion on an alleged bias jury pool and judge as well as second degree murder not being offered as an option to the jury. Allegations were raised including that the judge had discussed the case with a defense witness beforehand and that the judge’s wife as a friend of the Fogarty family. Petitions to replace the judge were denied by the court after the judge denied the allegations. His father stated that the testimony of doctors proved his son needed mental healthcare and a conviction of second-degree murder would have been more appropriate.

Following a failed appeal for a new trial, Timothy Hayden’s parental rights were terminated in 1992. Both Tracy and Timothy’s siblings wanted to adopt the children, who had been in their grandfather’s custody since their mother’s death. The families came together to agree on an adoption plan for the kids in which Tracy’s sister would adopt them. However, the agreement was contingent on Timothy agreeing to the terms. When Timothy expressed that he did not agree, the Hayden side of the family pulled out of the arrangement. After another failed attempt to reverse the termination of his parental rights and overturn his conviction, Tracy’s sister was able to adopt the children in 1994.

In March of 1996, a judge ruled that Hayden should get a new trial because he claimed that panic attacks made him incapable of making decisions about his defense. This was a devastating blow to the family of Tracy Hayden. Just a year later, this ruling was reversed by the appellate court. That didn’t stop Hayden from continuing to fight for a new trial, alleging evidence was concealed and unfair bias at this first trial.

The attention this case brought to domestic violence as important. The community understood that domestic violence can escalate to a devastatingly violent level, tearing families apart and leaving children without parents. “In 2011, the domestic violence center operated by the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office was named after Tracy Fogarty, using her maiden name” (Koziatek, 2020).

On January 26th, 2018, Timothy Hayden was released from Menard State Prison after serving twenty-eight years of his fifty-five-year sentence. He relocated to Bond County, but trouble soon followed. Just fifty-three days later, in March of 2018, Timothy Hayden was served with an order of protection from a woman he had met after his release. According to the order, Hayden was harassing her, buying her gifts, leaving excessive tips, and asking her out despite her denying his advances.

In May of 2018, police were informed that Timothy Hayden was working out at the gym and telling people that he had been in prison for running over three black people, killing them. He said that he later stabbed someone, returning to prison a second time. This scared patrons and resulted in Hayden being banned from the gym. In August of 2018, marijuana was found in Timothy’s home, another parole violation.

In December of 2018, a second woman was granted an order of protection against Timothy Hayden after he allegedly harassed her and her daughter on Facebook. When he was served and police explained that violating the order would result in him being sent back to prison, Hayden told police that they would have to kill him before he would return to jail. He then threw his phone, flexed his muscles, and expressed that his nearly twenty-eight years in prison were spent working out. He said no officer would be able to subdue him. Later that month, Hayden told police that if the woman accused him of domestic battery, he would kill her.

On January 6th, 2019, police responded to Hayden’s home on a domestic disturbance call. A glass door was shattered and the same woman who filed an order of protection in December was present and bleeding from her hand. The two had been drinking at a bar in Litchfield and began to fight upon returning to Hayden’s home. Less than a year after being released from prison, Timothy Hayden was arrested and charged with violating the order of protection.

In March of 2019, Timothy Hayden’s parole was revoked and he returned to prison. On January 17th, 2020, Timothy Hayden was once again released from prison. According to the Illinois murderer and violent offender against youth registry, Timothy Hayden remains a free man as of February 2023 and resides in Greenville, Illinois. He has multiple Facebook accounts. One of these accounts shows a cover photo of Timothy flipping of the camera with both hands while in handcuffs during his murder trial. His intro reads “AT LEAST I WONT FUCK YOU OVER AT FIRST LIKE MOST MFER’S DO. I’LL FUCK YOU OVER IN THE END, BE NICE!” ( (1) Timmy Hayden | Facebook).



Obituary (1990) Theresa Fogarty Hayden. The Belleville-News Democrat. 28 Jul 1990

Marriage licenses (1986) Marriage licenses issued in St. Clair County. The Belleville-News Democrat. 20 Jan 1986

Aubuchon, J. (1991). With trials finished, both families react. Belleville-News Democrat. 23 Jun 1991

Bowen, J. (2002). Hayden petitions for retrial. The Belleville-News Democrat. 04 April 2002

Tuft, C. (1990). Man charged in wife’s death. The Belleville-News Democrat. 28 Jul 1990

Bowen, J. (2000). Classic case of domestic violence. The Belleville-News Democrat. 28 Jul 2000

Koziatek, M. (2020). Hayden’s record includes murder, parole violations. The Belleville-News Democrat. 19 Jan 2020

Tuft, C. & Aubuchon, J. (1990). Prior charges against Hayden were dropped. The Belleville News-Democrat. 01 Aug 1990.

Aubuchon, J. (1992) Hayden refuses to allow adoption. The Belleville News-Democrat. 18 Jun 1992

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