Chad Haufler, 45, is charged with murder after a shooting inside a home on Lake Oconee.
Photo: Greene County Sheriff's Office
Photo: Greene County Sheriff's Office

Theories, contradictions abound in Lake Oconee murder mystery

Murder or self-defense? Accident or ambush?

For every theory about the shooting death of an Ohio man by his friend inside the exclusive Reynolds Lake Oconee community, significant holes remain.

And despite some new revelations Tuesday at a bond hearing for suspect Chad Haufler, the prosecution is keeping tight-lipped about why they believe the retired firefighter intended to kill a man in the basement of the $1.9 million home purchased just one month earlier.

Because he lacks any ties to the area, Haufler was denied bond and returned to the Greene County jail.

Haufler’s attorney, Manny Arora, has been equally circumspect, floating possible explanations for the fatal shooting of 51-year-old Marc Dimos but not yet settling on a fixed defense. He suggests inebriation might’ve played a role, noting the two men had purchased $130 worth of adult beverages the day before Haufler called 911, 30 minutes before sunrise on August 28.

"There’s about three persons in my house trying to kill me," he told the dispatcher. "I’m going to defend myself.”

The new details came as the alleged killer, Chad Haufler was denied bond in Greene County, where he’s been incarcerated since last Tuesday. The judge cited the 45-year-old ex-firefighter’s lack of ties to the community. 

The home where the killing took place in the Reynolds Lake Oconee community.

The new details came as the alleged killer, Chad Haufler was denied bond in Greene County, where he’s been incarcerated since last Tuesday. The judge cited the 45-year-old ex-firefighter’s lack of ties to the community.

CHANGING STORIES

Greene County deputies spotted Haufler, gun in hand, walking away from his home on Jones Bluff Court when they responded to the emergency call.

Arora does not know what compelled his client to lie. There were no intruders, and after initially telling investigators he didn’t know Dimos, Haufler eventually came clean.

Naturally, the shifting narratives aroused suspicions. But prosecutor Allison Mauldin said Tuesday that the physical evidence was also damning. She described two “bloodlettings” — Dimos was bludgeoned, sustaining multiple lacerations to his face, before Haufler, 45, allegedly shot his friend in the face.

Arora suggested the two men tussled before the violence escalated. Haufler had bruises on his back and elbows, according to his attorney.


PREVIOUSLY: Inside exclusive Lake Oconee community, another confounding mystery

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But what led the two men to fight in the first place? Haufler and Dimos were, by all accounts, close friends, even though they just met last fall, on a hunting trip.

Earlier this summer, Haufler invited Dimos to his home in Ocala, Florida. He fit right in with Haufler’s large circle of friends, joining them on a deep-sea fishing excursion 120 miles off the Atlantic coast.

“They had a great relationship,” said Monica Haufler, Chad Haufler’s wife of 25 years. Her husband was impressed with the handmade knife Dimos had given him while visiting in June.

Marc Dimos
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Dimos also confided in his new friend about his poor health. Monica Haufler testified Dimos suffered from Lewy Body Dementia, a diagnosis that, ironically, may figure into Haufler’s defense.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 80 percent of people stricken with the disease suffer from visual hallucinations that are “typically realistic and detailed.” Sometimes, they can be “frightening or dangerous,” states the NIH, citing, as an example, a person attempting to fight a perceived intruder.

UNWAVERING SUPPORT

Two dozen of Haufler’s friends, most of them firefighters, made the drive up from central Florida to testify on his behalf Tuesday. Among this self-described band of brothers, there is no doubt about Haufler’s innocence.

“He’s probably the nicest person I met in my entire life,” said neighbor Mark O’Connell, calling Haufler “an honorable man.”

O’Connell told the judge he’d be willing to put up his home to cover Haufler’s bond. Other friends testified they’d be willing to do the same.

“He’d do the same thing for anyone sitting in this room,” said Matt Luttermoser, a friend since childhood. “Chad has not changed since he was a kid. He’s always taken care of people.”

He was determined not to let his money ruin him or his two sons, each of whom joined the Marines after high school. Oldest son Chad is now a sheriff’s deputy in Florida. Youngest son Blake is set to follow in his dad’s footsteps as a firefighter in Marion County.

Confident as they are in their father’s innocence, Chad Haufler ‘s namesake admitted to “unknowns that are still present.”

“Despite that, I’m confident in our case,” he said.

Chad Hauffler, a former firefighter, was friends with the victim, who had been spending time at his home.  Photo: Provided by the Hauffler Family.
Photo: Courtesy of the Hauffler Family

No one has more questions than Dimos’ family.

The victim’s younger brother, Jeff Dimos, watched the proceedings Tuesday in silence, declining an interview request but offering a brief statement to the media mourning the passing of the father of six.

Marc Dimos’ will be laid to rest Thursday in Ohio.

Haufler will return to court in two weeks for a preliminary hearing.

Mauldin, the prosecutor, said the state’s case against him will be much clearer then.

Arora isn’t so sure.

“They don’t know the case they’re making,” the defense lawyer said. “Manslaughter should’ve been the highest charge they came up with.”

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