Her only peace was death.
How the Minnesota mom Jessica Haban survived 11 years of physical and mental hell is incomprehensible. Besides having her head allegedly smacked, punched, and thrown into a washing machine by her husband, she was dogged by 1,000 text messages and phone calls in the last three months of her life.
Traumatized and fearing she’d lose custody of her son and daughter—7 and 8-years-old—Haban checked out of a mental hospital where she was being treated for severe depression on Dec. 13, 2015 and “committed suicide three days later,” a criminal complaint states.
On Friday, six months after his wife was laid to rest, Long Vang, a 34-year-old Hmong man, was booked on murder, manslaughter, and stalking charges for pushing his late wife to take her own life.
The arrest has Haban’s grieving mother forced to face her daughter’s torturer and also figure out how to comfort the two lives who Haban lived for: her children.
A year ago posted on Facebook that it was her babies that drove her to live. “My babies smiles means the world to me… idk what I would do if I didn’t them I love them so much.”
Now that the law has reeled in their father it’s plausible the kids will grow up parentless.
“They miss their mother terribly and they’ve lost both parents,” Haban’s mother Rita Prinzing told us. “It’s very sad. Nobody wins.”
Living with the loss of her oldest of three children has taken a toll on the 46-year-old woman, who works as a housekeeper at a local hospital.
It happens to be the the same hospital where her daughter was admitted many times to treat injuries inflicted by Vang.
“Just the fact that he’s been charged is a small amount of justice that they are going to hold him accountable on some level,” Prinzing said.
The selfless mother, who collected a check as a dedicated Walmart cashier for years, ended her life on Dec. 16—less than a week before Christmas.
“It was pretty gruesome,” Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem told The Daily Beast, referring to Haban’s younger sister discovering the bloody scene. “It was a self-inflicted wound.”
There was a note that Ostrem described as “some sense of a message” before Haban took her life.
The clues were there in black and blue.
Haban essentially kept suffering beating after beating in private, and then in the open she was helpless.
“At first she kept it from me,” her mother said. “But that was harder to do as years went by.
“What could I do but try to be there for her and empathize for her and encourage her to report him and to get away from him.”
The family only in recent years realized the degree of Vang’s cruelty. “We were aware of incidents but not to this extent.
“She reached out all the time to us and others to help her in her situation,” her mother said through tears. “Emotionally and physically you try to save them but in the end, with Jessica, she received a traumatic brain injury last May.”
It was May 23, 2015, and Haban had visiting friends in Austin, Minnesota, when Vang apparently held a “black, tactical knife” to Haban’s throat before he allegedly struck her so hard with a closed fist “she lost consciousness as a result of the blow,” according to the criminal complaint.
Haban only recalled “waking up the following day feeling nauseous and experiencing a headache,” the complaint states.
She was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, usually associated with concussions in football or explosions in war.
But Haban refused to punish her husband, as is all too common for victims of domestic abuse.
“The prosecution in that particular case, the assault was dismissed,” Ostrem said. “She did not want to cooperate with the prosecution and that’s not unusual in a domestic violence case.”
That blow is a critical incident that the prosecutor believes seals their case against Vang.
“We know we have 11 years of abuse and we’ve got the traumatic brain injury,” Ostrem said. “We got what is a direct link to her death.” Attempts to speak with Vang’s public defender or family members were unsuccessful.
But that devastating blow was only the latest in a series of alleged assaults.
According to the complaint, Haban had been trying to pacify her husband’s eruptions where he would “get into a rage and throw things” and “usually broke things in the house when he was angry” including bust walls, cabinets, and a microwave amongst other household targets.
Then he would turn his fury on Haban one time “slapping her in the face because he was jealous” and as far back as 2008 the woman was punished beyond belief for having a nightmare.
“Vang poured vegetable oil all over [Haban] because” Vang told authorities “she had bad in her.”
When she attempted to take a shower and rinse off her smothered skin Vang “kicked in the shower door… the shower door fell on [Haban’s] foot, injuring it,” the complaint suggests. Vang decided the shower wouldn’t suffice, and dismissed her painful screams by “throwing her head into a washing machine.”
Haban didn’t call 911. She called Vang’s relative who, according to the papers, “discouraged her from contacting law enforcement.”
So on what would be one of her many trips to the Mayo Clinic and other hospitals, Haban tried to discount the nightmare punishment she took by telling doctors and nurses “that she simply fell.”
The nightmare torture came after cops were called to the family’s home in Stewartville, Minnesota, after Vang had allegedly thrown objects at Haban before ducking out the backdoor. It was this incident on May 11 that Vang had flipped a coffee table to pin Haban “and came charging at her.”
Haban admitted she struck Vang in the face “as she believed he was going to hit her and feared for her safety,” the complaint states.
Not to be tested, Vang allegedly “took the coffee table and used it to restrain her on the couch: and when she tried to reach authorities Vang “seized the phone from [Haban] and broke it on his thigh.”
Further investigation led an Olmsted County detective to speak to other witnesses in Haban’s life. One of them described Vang as being a demon of sorts who was “always in her head” and as a result Haban “never had a moment of peace.”
Eventually, enduring the abuse at the hands of her husband became impossible to hide. Bruises on Haban’s arms, legs, and hands were no longer concealable and there was a time when one witness described Vang as tossing a lamp “above [Haban’s] head while she was pregnant with one of their children, causing the lamp to shatter on her.”
She hid her horror to spare others, her mother said.
“She was extremely kindhearted and she didn’t show people how much pain she was suffering,” Prinzing said of her daughter who lived for her children and holidays. “She usually had a smile on her face and went out of her way to help others. She was an amazing, amazing girl.”
When Vang was quizzed he “would discredit Haban” and give a story that “she pushed his buttons.” Cops pressed and while he copped to being aware of Haban’s multiple attempts on her life and mental health struggles he simply misremembered KO-ing his wife.
The complaint suggests Vang “stated he could not remember the assault” in Austin, Minnesota.
The most recent incident took place at around 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 where Haban feared for her life.
Haban told responding deputies “Vang had been calling her and corresponding via text message on a nearly daily basis” which was a direct violation of the order of protection she had filed in the court on Aug. 7, 2015. Vang had apparently been crashing at the home “off and on” as well.
Soon after friends and family of Haban had noticed her fall deeper into depression. It was beginning December and, according to the complaint, deputies learned that “Vang was pressuring [Haban] to leave treatment for her mental health… pressuring her to return home and go back to work.”
Already manipulating her mind he then allegedly toyed with her heart. “Vang told her that she would be institutionalized and lose custody of their children if she remained in treatment,” the complaint states.
Her bout with the emotional pains and the physical trauma she suffered were undisputed. A social worker spelled out that Haban was suicidal and “struggling within a cycle of domestic violence” and presented “TBI symptoms shortly before her death.”
Her mom seconded that saying her daughter “was caught in this horrible vicious cycle.”
Right now the family wants to see the criminal justice system play out, and to not let Haban’s untimely death be in vain.
“These cases of domestic abuse take weeks or months,” Prinzing said. “And he is getting a slap on the hand. He’s still out there and the victim is still held prisoner in her mind.”
Indeed, Haban was described by her mother as “a truly beautiful person.”
“I’m not saying that because she’s my daughter,” Prinzing noted. “It’s pretty accurate to say Jessica was the type of person that when she came into a room she lit it up.”
The mother whose career as a beautician and model was beginning to manifest just graduated from Nova Academy of Cosmology.
“I was so proud of her,” Prinzing beamed.
The determined mother believes Vang is “sick” and that she can’t comprehend why he was so malicious to her daughter.
“I can’t answer for anything that is in that man’s head.”
As for what happens now, Prinzing is hopeful that her daughter’s death can maybe strengthen laws against abusers everywhere and for her son-in-law she hopes somewhere he pays for the hurt he allegedly inflicted.
“I will say that regardless of what happens to him—whether he receives judgement here or in god’s throne room for final judgment—I hope he has some form of accounting for all he’s done to Jessica, the kids, and the family.”
The mother is quick to point out she doesn’t want payback.
“This isn’t about revenge, it’s about justice for Jessica.”