Forty-seven-year-old Jason Harris will have the rest of his life to think about how two women brought his life plans to a crashing halt. His thirty-six-year-old wife, Christina Ann Thompson Harris, died suddenly on September 29, 2014, just eight months after giving birth. Her death was initially ruled an accidental overdose after a lethal dose of heroin was found in her body.
None of this made sense to Christina’s sisters, Katrina Sharon and Patricia Hutchinson. Their sister didn’t use drugs. She was breastfeeding, for God’s sake; even if she had developed a secret opioid habit that no one in the world knew about, she would never endanger her baby girl.
There was frozen breastmilk in the freezer, they told police. Test it. If our sister was a closet junkie, there should be chemical evidence of it. For some still-inexplicable reason, their urgings fell on deaf ears.
Jason’s Side of the Story
Here’s how Jason explained the situation. “Christy” had been hungry the night (September 28, 2014) before she died, so he had fixed her a bowl of cereal. He noticed that she was having trouble holding the spoon about halfway through it and said she eventually dropped the bowl and passed out on the living room floor. He chalked all this up to fatigue; after all, she was taking care of a new baby and a five-year old. He helped his wife to bed.
Jason said that the next morning, his wife was still asleep when he went to work. He knew she was exhausted, so he didn’t disturb her. He also mentioned that she had recently had a cold and was being treated for asthma.
But after calling and texting his wife several times with no response, Jason said he started to get worried. So, he called a neighbor (who happened to be a nurse) and asked her to check in on her. Coincidentally (we both know better), the front door was unlocked. The neighbor discovered a cold and clearly deceased Christina still laying in the bed.
Now, here poor Jason was, a single dad left to raise his two daughters alone.
Justice is Coming
From the moment Christina’s death was ruled an accidental overdose, Christina’s sisters pitched a fit. And rightfully so. We know our loved ones in a way law enforcement never will, and while, that can sometimes blind us to the truth, it more often lights the way.
In his early thirties, my dad was traumatized during a near-fatal ride in a small airplane during a thunderstorm. He never set foot in a plane again. I don’t anything could have gotten him back in the air; not a multi-million-dollar lottery check, the birth of his first grandchild, or anything else. I’d be suspicious of anyone who told me that they’d had a positive conversation with my dad about the aviation industry. I knew my dad.
And Christina’s sisters knew her. They begged police to dig further. When that failed, they began their own investigation. They talked to everyone they could think of – friends, coworkers, relatives. And uncovered some unexpected allies.
Jason’s brother and sister said he’d often talked about “getting rid” of Christina; they had assumed at the time he meant divorce. Now they were wondering. They were also pretty sure he was seeing other women.
Several of his coworkers recalled similar conversations. One of his coworkers even said that Jason had offered him $5,000 to murder Christina; he had, of course turned the offer down. He hadn’t even taken it that seriously.
One of the initial pushbacks to Katrina and Patricia’s call for further investigation was the lack of connection between Jason and heroin; police saw no evidence Jason had access to it. So, thought our sister sleuths, what was the evidence that Christina did? Was it possible that Christina was using drugs and they didn’t know it?
To their credit, Christina’s sisters were willing to ask the hard questions and face some potentially devastating answers. If their sister had been leading a secret life, they were going to find out. But no one – not Christina’s closest friends or any of her Subway coworkers – had ever known Christina to use heroin or any other drug. They could find no evidence that she had ever purchased it.
With each new piece of evidence, Christina’s family went back to police. Then they went to the district attorney’s office. Then they filed a civil suit.
Do Murderers Think They’re Invisible After a Murder?
I am amazed at how often a murderer who has spent weeks or months plotting someone’s demise acts like a damn fool afterward. They laugh and joke at their loved one’s funeral. They call the insurance company while the body is still warm. They replace a dead spouse like they’re replacing an old pair of shoes.
This was Jason. Nine days after Christina died, Harris flew to Providence, Rhode Island to visit see another woman. Shortly after that, he moved a new woman and her daughter into his house. These are things neighbors notice and police pay attention to.
Finally, after a few years of investigating leads and hounding law enforcement, Katrina and Patricia had their attention. Investigators agreed to test Christina’s frozen breast milk, which had been carefully stored in three plastic packages at her parents’ house all this time. They also got a search warrant.
Not a single drop of any drug was found. Clearly, Christina was not a drug user. In 2019, the medical examiner formally changed the manner of death from accident to suicide.
The search warrant yielded a treasure trove of information. Police discovered that Jason Harris had received $120,000 in life insurance after his wife’s death. He had also been texting, emailing and trading pictures with numerous other women before and after his wife’s death. They found nearly 5,900 text messages to just one of these women.
The Bottom Line
On November 17th, 2021, Jason Harris was convicted of poisoning his wife by lacing her cereal with a lethal dose of heroin. On December 10th, he was sentenced to life in prison.
It took a village to bring Jason Harris to justice. Friends testified, coworkers told the truth, neighbors paid attention, and family members investigated. Even her new baby, one could argue, lent a helping hand; it was the first time in Michigan’s history that breast milk was used as evidence in a criminal trial.
Stay safe, my friends, and Happy Holidays!
The image came from Christina’s Facebook page and was shown in several media posts.