Printer friendly version |
E-mail to a friend |
Updated Wednesday, July 29, 2009 2:46 PM
Missing evidence found in Jennifer Harris case
BY JERRIE WHITELEY
BONHAM - A father's seven year search for answers might have come one step closer to fulfillment this week with a discovery made at the Fannin County Sheriff's Office.
Fannin County Sheriff Kenneth Moore told WFAA television (Dallas) on Wednesday that his office had located the clothing found near the Red River where Jennifer Harris' body was found in May 2002.
The clothing, a pair of jeans, a bra and a shirt, were found months after Ms. Harris' body was discovered floating in the river.
In an interview earlier this year, Ms. Harris' father, Jerry Harris, said he thought the clothing might help lead authorities to the person or persons who killed his daughter. He said he couldn't understand what had happened to it and hoped its loss didn't mean the case would languish forever as a so-called "cold case."
Harris said he learned of the clothing being found when a reporter called and left a message on his phone.
His brother-in-law, Jeff Schneider, also learned from a reporter.
"That is great. That is wonderful news," Schneider said. Harris agreed, but stopped short of saying it was the kind of news he had been praying for all of these years.
Schneider said the clothing had been tested for DNA earlier in the investigation but the DNA was degraded to the point that the lab couldn't say if it were Mrs. Harris' clothing or not. However, DNA testing has progressed to the point now where that might be possible.
Harris said he saw the clothes when they were taken from the river and he can say they fit the description of the clothing his daughter was wearing the last time anyone saw her. He can also say that they appeared to be her size.
On May 12, 2002, Ms. Harris left a friend's house promising to return in a few hours, but she didn't get to keep that promise.
Police found her green 2000 Jeep Wrangler a few hours later near Lake Bonham. Twenty-four hours later, police declared Ms. Harris missing, and six days later officials told her father, his daughter had died.
On Wednesday, Moore told media outlets that his staff found the clothes in a bag that was labeled with the case number. He said it even had the date it was checked into the Fannin County Sheriff's Office, and it showed when the evidence was opened by Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science technicians for testing years ago.
Harris said he knew that Moore had ordered his staff to start looking for the evidence a month ago. Harris also said he understands that the bag was found in an area of a storage unit that had already been searched a number of times.
"If they hadn't noticed it before then I would have to say that these must be some very unobservant people," Harris said.
He said he really hopes that Moore will call him in to identify the clothing and that the find is finally the break that law enforcement needs to move the case forward.
The story on WFAA talked about the fact that Mrs. Harris' uterus was missing when her body was pulled from the water. Jerry Harris said he can't say for sure what happened to his daughter's body or when or why.
"But I can say that she thought she was pregnant." He said she had been taking pregnancy tests in the weeks before her death and had even visited pre-natal sites on the Internet.
"She wouldn't have done those things if she hadn't thought she was pregnant."
Just what his daughter's state of pregnancy might have had to do with her death, Harris can only guess.
At this point, Harris said, guessing is all he can do and it is providing no comfort for the people who want to know why someone would kill his daughter.
Moore could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Comments ... 26 found!
1969 Sherman Murders : 2/1/2011
I was 7 in 1969 and we lived on Houston St. near a greasy spoon and the high school. Across the street was a Sun gas station. Close to Christmas that station was robbed, the attendent murdered and a police officer who walked in on the robbery was murdered, too. My Mom quietly moved my little sister and I from the front bedroom into the bathroom with my step-dad and grandparents. We lived in the only house on that street for blocks and the adults were afraid the robbers would invade the house. They, I think there were three robbers, did hijack a car around Dallas, I think, and tried to run for it. They were caught as I recall. I also remember that two little girls had been murdered in the fall. We looked at a house in the area where they had been kidnapped and I remember being quite afraid of living in that area. We didn't. I went to Wakefield Elementary School and I walked with two boys who lived on Houston to the west of 75. The teachers taught us to run screaming if approached by strangers. So much innocense lost that year around the country.
Does anyone have more information about the gas station robbery? The attendent that was murdered was someone I had spoken with many times. I would often go there to get a Coke. I didn't go back after the murder.
Kent in AR
sad : 5/11/2010
I was asking my grandmother about some sad stories and she told me this story and once i read it broke my heart :( ( keep you in prayers )!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SORRY !!!!
Small Town?? : 8/7/2009
I don't think it's a small town thing. The BIG cities have the same problem. We live here and we REMEMBER these cases. What we need to know is the ratio of solved to unsolved cases. As far as misplacing evidence it can be as easy as transposing numbers/letters. Honestly now how many of you have misplaced your keys (and you use these every day) or overlooked something you were looking for. Sometimes it takes a second set of eyes to see what you're missing. If you have children you know how hard it can be to punish the correct child for 'crimes' even when you're sure you know which one is guilty. So you punish them all - hoping that one will squeal. Law Enforcement CAN NOT use this parent tatic because they would be sued. Please don't judge them until you've walked a mile in their shoes. IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION ON UNSOLVED CRIMES REPORT IT TO YOUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT.
Just a Small Town citizen
Sad : 8/6/2009
the story of the Golish/ Stevens murders are chronicled in the book: In the line of duty By Judyth Wagner Rigler The investigator never got over that case. She was 7 and walking home through Fairview park from Fairview school.
Disappearance : 8/6/2009
Was the elderly lady who walked away from the nursing home south of Sherman several years ago (maybe 10-12 yrs) every found? As I recall, she had not been located several years after that.
Cold Cases : 8/5/2009
Mary Jane don't forget about in 1999 Francine Carr went missing behind a convienence store and no more than whats being done now was being done to try and solve her case as well. Grayson County has toooo many cold cases which means Grayson County has toooo many cold investigators! Lets just stop paying taxes and maybe the local law enforcement will decide to "investigate" then!
Scared for our communities
To: Nikki : 8/4/2009
Nikki, I seriously doubt that the Bonham PD was "in on it" as you say. In fact, was Bonham PD even the main law enforcement agency handling this case? I don't think so. Regardless, there could be an effort to protect someone whoever it is. It does make you wonder how this could happen in a county the size of Fannin county and no one knows anything. Strange indeed. Something is definitely not right over there!
unsolved case : 8/4/2009
I think that something is up in fannin county,seems that there are alot of bad cops there.I dont understand how this poor girl can just be found murdered and noone know anything.Keep pushing them til they find who done this to her.Push the truth out of someone.To fishy to me.
Golish : 8/3/2009
Donna Golish disappeared on September 10, and her body was found on September 11, 1969. Easley was arrested on April 8, 1970. On April 16, 1970, he was indicted for the murder of Donna Golish, and on the same day also was indicted for the murder of Laurie Stevens, who had been killed on April 1, 1970. On May 25, 1970, Easley was granted a change of venue to Wichita County in the Stevens case; trial commenced on July 6, 1970, and he was convicted. On September 2, 1970, Easley was granted a change of venue to Collin County in the Golish case; trial commenced in March, 1971, and he was convicted. The conviction for the murder of Laurie Stevens was reversed on March 14, 1973. On September 12, 1973, a new trial was granted in the Golish case. On March 18, 1974, the second trial of Easley for the murder of Laurie Stevens commenced in Wichita County, and he again was convicted. On April 8, 1975, Easley was granted a change of venue to Victoria County for his second trial for the murder of Donna Golish; trial commenced on April 21, 1975, and he again was convicted. [*745] On July 6, 1970, appellant filed a motion for a continuance in the first trial of the Stevens case, and the motion was overruled. On December 31, 1970, appellant filed a motion for a continuance in the first trial of the Golish case; the record does not reflect that the motion was ruled on by the court. On September 17, 1973, appellant filed a motion for a continuance in the second trial of the Stevens case, and the motion was granted.
Cover-up : 8/3/2009
Seems to me that the Bonham PD was in on the murder of this young lady. They may have been hiding the clothes, something funny they found them YEARS later! I dont know but something is up in fannin county.
More To Texas in ND : 8/1/2009
Texas in ND, you are supporting what I am saying: forensics and DNA testing have indeed advanced and come a long ways in recent years just as you said. This is all the more reason that these cold cases should not continue to go unsolved, especially the more recent ones. I would imagine there is plenty of evidence if the officers knew how to go about collecting and preserving it. A man shoots a woman in the back of the head in a trailer house (Crossroads) and she walks out and goes down the street and dies and NOBODY knows anything? Please! Gimme a break! I highly doubt that some total out-of-town stranger randomly walked into a trailer house, shot a woman in the head, and then rode off into the sunset. Geez! How hard can this be to find out who lives there, who hangs out there, and who was in there???
To Texas in ND : 8/1/2009
The issue here is that this evidence was LOST while in the custody of law enforcement....and yes it seems that they do an excellent job of that....almost the same as the Lester Bower evidence..... you betcha, way to go law enforcement!
*Small Town Officers* : 7/31/2009
I don't think that *small town* officers not able to do what *big city* officers can do is the issue. There are sometimes when there just isn't enough evidence. Also....look at how far we have come in forensics and most importantly DNA testing. I think the police do an excellent job. If you don't maybe you should go into forensics or law enforcement.
Texan in ND
Re: SAD : 7/31/2009
Long Tall Texan, No, the Harrison street case has never been solved, one of those guys was a friend of mine from childhood. I have given it over to God.
Mary Jane's Cold Case List : 7/31/2009
Mary Jane Good idea doing a story that lists area cold case files. For the families of the victims these cases aren't cold.
old cases : 7/30/2009
The murders of the little girls in 1969 were solved. The victims were Donna Marie Golish and Laurie Stevens. Charles Denis Easley was sentenced to life in prison for these crimes. He was 18 when he did committed these murders.
James in Denton
Cold cases : 7/30/2009
I have been working to obtain a complete list of all cold cases. Both Grayson and Fannin county sheriff's offices have complied with my request (Jennifer Holman is the only one in the FCSO jurisdiction, Sheriff Moore said. Whitesboro P.D. has none, said Chief Scott Taylor. Sherman has provided 10 cases, including the 1986 murder of Bridgette Stone, Una Mae Herd's disappearance in June 2006, which they are now calling a homicide, and through the 2009 deaths of two people, including Clyde Guess. If an agency isn't listed here, it's because they have either declined to give me that information, or haven't yet dug it up. It was in May when I asked. So, in short, I'm doing what I can to bring each of those back to the public's eye.
Mary Jane Farmer, Herald Democrat
murders near AC : 7/30/2009
The murders near AC happened on Harrison Street and four people were killed. It is still one of several cold cases at the Sherman Police Department.
i remember too : 7/30/2009
to curious..i remember that case your talking about,it was around 1969 and i was also your age..i lived on elm street in sherman and played at ely park alot my mom wouldnt let me go there again for along time.it was two little girls abducted.
i wonder also
Justice : 7/30/2009
I find it so odd that on the day after WFAA ran their story about the missing evidence, it miraculously shows up. Maybe this story really pushed the investigators to kick it into high gear and find the evidence. Or maybe there's a more sinister explanation. I hope not.
We wait with you... : 7/30/2009
So many of us continue to wait with Jerry Harris for some resolution, some end to the questions. The most unnatural thing in the world is for a parent to outlive his child...and that sad loss is so compounded when some other human being murdered the child. Know you are in our thoughts Jerry, and with you we wait for the light of truth to reveal who did this and for justice to keep the perpetrator from hurting anyone else ever again!
Dianna - Red River Unitarian Universalist Church Member
Where has the clothing been all this time?
"unsolved" murders : 7/30/2009
Sometime around the fall of 1969 there were two little girls abducted and murder from the Sherman area. Does anyone know if the person was found that did this? I was the same age as those little girls at the time, around 11, and my father was scared for me to stay alone after school (my mother had recently died) because this was happening, so I would stay with a neighbor. I've always wondered what happened.
To" Long Tall Texan : 7/30/2009
Long Tall Texan, I believe that the case you are referring to was the murders over on Harrison Street back in the 80s. Someone walked in and capped 3 people in the house. The consensus was that it was a drug deal or drug related but I don't know. Then there was the one over at the Crossroads mobile home park (next to Big Lots) where the girl was shot in the head. Has that one been solved? I don't think it's that they police don't care, I just don't think that they can handle these bigger issues like the bigger city cops. As far as Jennifer Harris, where were the clothes in the first place? If Moore "found" them, I assume that they were right there somewhere all the while? Talk about scatter-brained! How can you have murder evidence like this in a small town and forget where it is for 7 years???
RE: Sad : 7/30/2009
Sad but true. Quick to convict the wrong person, slow or never for the right person. There was a cold case from Sherman that occurred near Austin College in which I believe 3-4 persons were killed in the same residence. Does anyone know if that was ever solved?
Long Tall Texan
Sad : 7/29/2009
This is such a sad story.. the killer has been out there just living his life for the last 7 years. Why are there so many unsolved murders and missing people in this area? It's like every time something like this happens around here it goes unsolved.. What's the deal? Do the authorities really care about solving these cases or what? Families need closure! I hope these new test come up with the evidence they need.
Just plan sad
Terms & Conditions
The following comments are provided by readers and are the sole responsibility of the authors. Heralddemocrat.com does not guarantee their accuracy. By publishing a comment here you agree to abide by the comment policy. If you see a comment that violates the policy, please notify the web editor.
Comments do not display immediately due to manual review. Comments are reviewed periodically throughout the day. Please do not submit a comment more than once.