5 key details of Dawn Hacheney's murder explored

Dawn Hacheney
5 key details of Dawn Hacheney's murder explored (Image via NBC)

The cold-blooded murder of Dawn Hacheney in 1997 brought the small town of Bainbridge to a standstill as they found their pastor involved in the crime. Dawn was suffocated to death after being drugged and left in a burning apartment to stage a tragedy.

Regardless of the staged murder, the authorities found reason and information to pursue the murder case in 2001 and found Nicholas "Nick" Hacheney guilty of Dawn's death. The Dateline: Unforgettable episode titled Twisted Faith brings the horrific details of Dawn Hacheney's murder as it airs on June 20, 2024, at 8 pm EST on Oxygen. The official synopsis reads:

"A charismatic pastor's dark secrets come to light, triggering a murder investigation. Josh Mankiewicz looks back at a case that shattered a congregation and exposed the cost of their unshakable trust."

Five details of Dawn Hacheney's murder explored

1) Dawn Hacheney was found unresponsive and burnt on her bed

On December 26, 1997, the fire services and police authorities of Bremerton reached Nick and Dawn's home to find them unresponsive and burnt in the master bedroom. According to NBC News, Dawn was found lying on the bed burnt to a point where she could not be recognized.

The authorities also found propane canisters, an electric space heater, and wrapping paper from Christmas presents all over the room. Per court documents, Dawn Hacheney's death was ruled as accidental.


2) The autopsy reports mentioned a lack of toxic gases or fumes in her system

The autopsy reports of Dawn brought forth an unnatural detail for a person who had died in a fire — there was no soot in her trachea or lungs. The report dated December 29, 1997, also stated that she suffered from pulmonary edema. Dr. Emmanuel Lacsina concluded that she had asphyxiated during the fire.

The toxicology reports prepared by Egle Weiss stated that Dawn had no carbon dioxide or propane in her blood. Instead, they found a high dose of Benadryl in her system. The court documents mentioned that Weiss had passed away unexpectedly before the trial.


3) Nick Hacheney's ex-lover, Sandra Glass, came in with information that reopened the case

Nick was interrogated and he mentioned having left for duck hunting, leaving the space heater on. He justified the propane canisters saying that they were a gift for Christmas. The case turned cold thereafter but was reopened with the information from Sandra Glass in April 2001, per NBC News.

Hacheney had been involved with Sandra, the church secretary and prophetess, during the fall of 1997. Glass mentioned that Nicholas had admitted to suffocating Dawn to death with a plastic bag after drugging her with Benadryl.


4) Nick had relationships with multiple women

The investigators uncovered a string of s*xual relationships that Hacheney shared with women through the church. The Seattle Pi reported on the e-mails and extramarital affairs that began while Dawn was alive.

Nick was simultaneously involved with Lindsay Lautsbaugh, Sandra Glass, Annette Anderson, and Nicole Matheson. Of the three women, Lautsbaugh was the 19-year-old daughter of the Founding Pastor Bob Smith, per NBC News.


5) Nick's life sentence was overruled in 2008

Nicholas "Nick" Hacheney was arrested based on the information the authorities received from Sandra Glass. He was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and was sentenced to life in prison in December 2002, per Kitsap Sun.

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However, the decision was overruled by the Supreme Court as they deemed arson to not be an aggravating factor in the death of Dawn Hacheney. He was then sentenced to 26 years and eight months in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 2025.


Watch the details of Dawn Hacheney's murder as Dateline: Unforgettable airs on Oxygen on Thursday.

Edited by Meenakshi Ajith
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