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San Jose cop found dead His revolver was near body; wife slain last week, San Francisco Examiner, Malcolm Glover. Nov 13, 1997. pg. A.1

Body of Slain Woman's Husband Is Found, Los Angeles Times, Nov 14, 1997. pg. 38

Family of San Jose cop reels from double tragedy, San Francisco Examiner., Eve Mitchell, Nov 14, 1997. pg. A.27


San Jose cop found dead His revolver was near body; wife slain last week

San Francisco Examiner

Malcolm Glover

Nov 13, 1997. pg. A.1

The body of a San Jose police officer was found Thursday in the Santa Cruz Mountains, four days after his wife's body was found in the trunk of her car with her throat slashed.

The crew of a news helicopter spotted the body of Tom Harris in a grassy field in the area of a large-scale search for him that was launched at daybreak Thursday.

Officers at the scene confirmed that the body found Thursday was that of Harris. The cause of death was not released.

A gun was found with the body but it was not immediately determined if the gun had been used or if it was Harris' service revolver.

Santa Clara County Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Arata said that no warrant had been issued and that Harris was not a suspect in his wife's murder.

"We have mounted a search because we want to find out if he's all right," Arata said before the news helicopter spotted the body.

Harris was reported missing to San Jose police about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday by his family. Arata said police did not inform the sheriff's department, which is investigating the wife's murder, until 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, after his car had been found abandoned on Hicks Road near Mount Umunhum Road.

Harris' body was spotted as more than 50 officers and search and rescue units, aided by four bloodhounds, began a search at daylight.

Harris was a 15-year member of the San Jose Police Department. His son, Scott, is also a member of the department.

The body of Judith Harris, 48, was found in the trunk of her car Sunday in the parking lot at the rear of the Los Gatos Medical Plaza in an unincorporated area of Santa Clara County. Missing since Friday, she had been gagged, beaten and had her throat cut.

Judith Harris was last seen by her husband at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 7 when she left their home in San Jose to visit relatives in Hayward.

Her husband said she later left a message on their telephone answering machine asking that he tape a soap opera.

The couple would have celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary last Sunday.

The killing of Judith Harris stunned the south San Jose neighborhood where she lived and neighbors mourned the slain homemaker.

"She was the one person it shouldn't have happened to," said Jeannie Wickerd.

Wickerd said Judith Harris was devoted to her home and family and had anticipated the holiday season and the wedding of her oldest son next year.

Investigators have steadfastly denied that Tom Harris or any other member of the family was any more of a suspect in Judith Harris' murder than anyone else.


Body of Slain Woman's Husband Is Found

Los Angeles Times

Nov 14, 1997. pg. 38

The body of a San Jose police officer was found on a grassy hillside in the Santa Cruz Mountains on Thursday, four days after his wife's body was found in the trunk of her car with her throat slashed.

Coroner's investigators would not say whether officer Tom Harris died of a self-inflicted wound or under other circumstances.

Sheriff's deputies and bloodhounds found Harris, a 15-year veteran of the force, after locating his abandoned car at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday in a remote section of the mountains, Santa Clara County sheriff's spokesman Jim Arata said.

Family members reported him missing Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators had insisted for days that the officer was not a suspect in the death of his wife, Judith Lynne Harris, as earlier reports had suggested.

"We have mounted a search because we want to find out if he's all right," Arata said before a news helicopter spotted the body lying in a field of grass with a gun nearby.

There were no keys in Harris' car, which was found on fog-shrouded Mount Umunhum Road the previous night.

Officers discovered the body of Judith Harris, 48, on Sunday in her car, which was parked at a medical complex in an unincorporated part of Santa Clara County. Her throat had been cut and she had been beaten in the head. Her mouth and neck were covered with duct tape and her head was at least partially covered with a black bag, the coroner's office said Wednesday.

That day would have been the couple's 29th wedding anniversary.

The deaths have stunned the south San Jose neighborhood where the couple lived and the San Jose Police Department, where Harris, their son Scott and Harris' brother Dale are officers.


Family of San Jose cop reels from double tragedy

San Francisco Examiner.

Eve Mitchell

Nov 14, 1997. pg. A.27

SAN JOSE - When police Officer Tom Harris failed to show for a meeting with relatives to discuss funeral plans for his slain wife, family members became worried.

"They felt this wasn't the normal, reliable behavior of Tom Harris," Assistant Police Chief Walt Adkins said.

Relatives indicated he was despondent.

When Harris' body was discovered Thursday morning in the foothills outside Los Gatos, in a grassy field several miles from his home, their worst fears were realized.

Harris, 49, had apparently taken his own life.

Sgt. Jim Arata of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department said at a news conference Thursday that a handgun was found next to Harris' body. It was not known if the weapon was a police-issued firearm, he said.

A KGO-TV helicopter camera image showed Harris' body on the ground with a gun in his hand.

An autopsy was performed Thursday and on Friday, a coroner's department official reported Harris died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Investigators "have indicated a strong likelihood that Mr. Harris took his own life by his own hand," Arata said.

Harris' apparent suicide does not close the books on the slaying of his wife, Judith Harris, 48, whose body was found in the trunk of her car in the parking lot of the Los Gatos Medical Plaza on Sunday, a day that was to mark the couple's 29th wedding anniversary.

"It is still an open investigation," Arata said.

Judith Harris, a homemaker, had been gagged and beaten, her throat cut. Her husband reported her missing last Friday when she failed to return home after purportedly leaving to visit relatives in the East Bay.

Arata stressed that Harris was no more of a suspect in his wife's murder than anybody else. "Investigation of a victim's family is a normal (investigative) process."

15-year veteran

Tom Harris was questioned by sheriff's investigators Sunday, Arata said.

Several police officers attended Thursday's news conference. "We all feel the pain that (Harris family members) are feeling," said Adkins, who visited the family after Tom Harris' body was found. "Naturally, they are grieving."

Adkins described Harris, a 15-year veteran of the force, as a "well-respected officer. He was a very friendly, outgoing person."

While acknowledging the existence of rumors about an extramarital affair by Tom Harris, Arata said he could not confirm or deny their veracity.

The two deaths have shaken the police department, where one of Harris' two sons and a brother are on the force. Several officers gathered at the Harris home.

"It hits the whole department," Lt. Walt Tibbet said outside the one-story wood-and-brick residence. "We're used to having tragedy all the time. Now it hits home."

Before joining the San Jose Police Department in 1982, Harris worked for the Campbell police from 1972 to 1980. His tenure there was marked by an unusual incident involving an account Harris gave of being attacked after a robbery.

Harris had said he was tied to a cyclone fence after he tried to stop some suspects from robbing a furniture upholstery shop, former Campbell Police Chief James Cost said Friday. In a 1979 report, investigators questioned Harris' account of the incident, Cost said.

"I noted the investigators were skeptical of it. They said there were inconsistencies," said Cost, who came across the report while going through old files. "They thought that whatever was used to bind him, that with some effort he could have broken out of it.

Cost was chief of the Campbell force from 1988 to 1995 before he left to take a job as a commander with the San Carlos Police Department.

No suicide note

Tom Harris' vehicle was found about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday by San Jose police on a remote stretch of Mount Umunhum Road just past Hicks Road in an unincorporated area of Santa Clara County. A news helicopter spotted his body about a mile away from his car shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday.

No suicide note was found on Harris' body or in the car, Arata said.

Family members had called San Jose police at about 5 p.m. Wednesday after Harris failed to show up at his home to meet relatives and discuss funeral arrangements for his wife.

"Tom was a no-show," Adkins said.

Adkins said sheriff's investigators were notified within two hours that Harris was missing, contrary to earlier reports that said they were not informed until Harris' vehicle was found.

Funeral arrangements for Judith and Tom Harris are pending.

[Illustration]

PHOTO 1; Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS / 1997; Caption: Judith Harris's body was found Sunday in the trunk of her car.; PHOTO 2; Credit: KGO-TV VIA AP; Caption: A deputy checks for a pulse on the body of San Jose police Officer Tom Harris, 49, found dead in the Los Gatos hills Thursday.

Credit: SPECIAL TO THE EXAMINER


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