But a couple of weeks ago, they went further. They took the desk where his mother had pored over court transcripts and moved it out of the office. They unpacked the stuffed gorillas he had won at county fairs and all the other things they had put away carefully after police pounded on the door in the middle of the night May 16, 2000, and told Michael Wayne Hash he was charged with murdering an elderly neighbor.
He was 15 when Thelma Scroggins was shot four times in the head at her home in Culpeper County.
He was 19 when he was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole.
Last week, a judge threw out his 2001 conviction, with a strongly worded opinion that there had been a miscarriage of justice with extensive police and prosecutorial misconduct. U.S. District Judge James Turk gave officials six months to either try Hash again or set him free.
The attorney general will not appeal the ruling, according to a spokesman, and did not have any comment on the case. The special prosecutor just appointed and beginning to review the files said it was premature to discuss the case at this point.
So the Hashes are waiting. And arranging the books in their son’s room so that everything is perfect when he comes home.
From prison last month, Hash, who is now 31, told his parents they were going to get let down again.
“We said, ‘No, Mike, we’re not jumping the gun,’ ” Jeff Hash said. “That exit sign is getting closer and closer.”
‘Never did I doubt him’
Pam and Jeff Hash started dating when they were 13, two kids playing in their Manassas neighborhood. They were married when they were 16. He worked in construction, and she was a florist. They had two sons and built a home in Lignum, a tiny crossroads east of Culpeper. “It’s a two-sided sign,” Jeff Hash joked. There’s a big, white church, barbed-wire fences, fields with black-and-white cows grazing, flowers blooming from fat farm-equipment tires.
In a span of four months in 1996, there were three murders in the area.
Several years later, they were still unsolved, and a new sheriff took office promising to find the bad guys.
Mike Hash was big for his age at 15, blond, a kid who liked go-karts, trout fishing, staying up late with his friends or his girlfriend, and racing up and down the gravel road where they lived.
Four years later, a couple of weeks after prom, Jeff Hash heard pounding on the door and watched, dazed and still half-asleep, as police cuffed his son and took him away. He and his wife pulled on clothes and drove to the police station in another county in the middle of the night to ask what had happened.