Calvin Harris

It seems that everyone who is into true crime have those cases that they are obsessed with and cases they could scream if they heard one more word about them. For me this case falls into the latter category. The problem is though, I am unsure why I feel this way. This case is similar to two other cases, those of Tom Foley and David Camm. In all of these cases the men were accused of murdering their wives and would receive multiple trials. Like the Tom Foley case, a witness would come forward in this case after a conviction and the courts found that it warranted a new trial. Like the David Camm case, Calvin Harris would be convicted twice by two juries but the courts would overturn the convictions. David Camm would be acquitted after his third trial while Calvin Harris' third trial would end with the jury unable to make a decision and it would be a forth trial before Harris would be acquitted. Camm's case is another that I have not blogged about and I believe it is for the same reason as I have not done Calvin Harris'. In my opinion Camm and Harris got away with murder. For reasons that I cannot explain, both of these men just rub me the wrong way in interviews that I have seen with them. So, now that I have shown my hand as far as my feelings in this case I suppose it is time to tell the story.

The night of September 11, 2001 is the last time that Michele Harris was seen. She was in the middle of a divorce from her husband, Calvin “Cal”, but they still lived in their home in Spencer New York together with their four children. In essence they lived separate lives. Depending on who you spoke to depends on your perception of how the divorce was going. According to Calvin's defense team the divorce was on friendly terms and leaning in Calvin's direction but others claim that Calvin had recently offered a $700,000 settlement and Michele had rejected it.

At any rate on the morning of September 12, 2001 Calvin would get up to go to work (he co-owned two car dealerships, as well as his family owned several) and Michele was not home. He would call the family nanny to come stay with the kids but it was said he never tried to contact Michele. Calvin would claim this would be due to the fact that this was not the first time this had happened, although there seemed to be no evidence of this, and she had a boyfriend. This would be a testament of the fact that although living together the couple were living separate lives. When Calvin discovered that Michele was not home he called the family nanny to come stay with the kids.

According to the nanny, when she got to the home she pulled in the long family driveway and spotted Michele's vehicle, with it's keys inside but Michele was not around. She claimed that she informed Calvin of this when she got to the home but he seemed unconcerned and went to work.

It was unclear just who reported Michele missing but what is not unclear is that the region, as well as the country, were reeling over the 9/11 attacks. Some believe that this either prevented or preoccupied law enforcement enough that their investigation was not as intense as it would have normally been in the beginning. Others claim that the fact it happened on the night of 9/11 may have been a calculated move, knowing law enforcement would be preoccupied.

It would be almost another four years before Calvin Harris would be charged with the murder of his wife. Michele's body had not been found, nor has it been found today. Prosecutors had spent those four years building a case and gathering evidence.

Prosecutors believed that Michele had come home on that night and that she had entered the door leading to the home from the garage when she was attacked. They cited drops of blood found in this area as evidence. Michele's hairdresser would claim that she had heard the two on the telephone in July of 2001 in an argument and heard him state “I will fucking kill you. I will make you disappear.” They would have witnesses claiming that Calvin had said he had no intention of giving Michele half of his worth which was stated to be $5.4 million.

In contrast the defense would argue that the blood supposedly found just inside the garage door could have been there for years as there is no way to put a timeline on when it happened. It was in fact her home. The defense also argued, more and more throughout his trials it seems that there were other suspects, that they would name that they believe were responsible. The main person was a man by the name of Stacey Stewart. The defense claims that not only was he a frequent visitor to the restaurant that Michele was a waitress at but that the two were dating. In fairness the prosecution claims the dating part was untrue. Apparently at the time of her disappearance Stewart lived about 5-7 miles from the Harris home. They, the defense, claims that a bra strap and pieces of fabric were found in a fire pit on the property that Stewart owned in New York. The prosecution claims that while the defense called this corroborative evidence that no DNA testing on the items they claim were ever linked to Michele Harris. Apparently Stewart and another suspect, again, according to the defense, Christopher Thomason, are now residents of Texas.

Calvin's first trial, in 2007 ended with a conviction for second degree murder (which was all the prosecution could prove without a body) and he was sentenced to life in prison. However five months after the conviction a man by the name of Kevin Tubbs came forward. He would claim that late on the night of her disappearance that he saw two people, who according to him resembled Michele and Stacey Stewart, at the end of the Harris driveway seemingly having an argument. Against the prosecution objections the appeals court found this to be “new” evidence and overturned Calvin's conviction.

Once again Calvin would face trial in 2009 and once again he would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison. However the courts would eventually overturn this conviction based on the fact that a jury member had apparently failed to make public that they had a criminal conviction on their record as well as what the court called “insufficient instructions to the jury regarding hearsay testimony allowed in the trial.”

Calvin's third trial was held in May of 2015 in Schoharie New York. In this trial the judge allowed Tubbs' testimony but it was said that due to circumstantial evidence and hearsay the defense was not allowed to present evidence related to possibly new suspects. In the end the jury was unable to make a determination and a mistrial was declared.

Calvin would face yet another trial only this time he decided on a bench trial where only a judge, not a jury, would decide his fate. After an eight week trial the judge ruled on May 24, 2016 that Calvin would be found not guilty of the crime. He was subsequently released.

Throughout the years Calvin has maintained his innocence and his four children have stood by him. Many of them were very young when their mother disappeared. It is said that due to the fact that Michele's family believed Calvin to be guilty and their belief that Michele's family had pushed the prosecutors to continue pursing their father they have little to no contact with their mother's family.

The last thing I found on Calvin stated that he was in the process of selling the large estate that he owned due to the legal fees he had incurred over the years. In October of 2016 Calvin would sue a man by the name of Joseph Reagan. Reagan had been a co-owner with Calvin and his brother in the two dealerships prior to Calvin's arrest. Initially Calvin and his brother each owned 45% of the business while Reagan owned 10%. Paperwork was drawn up prior to this first conviction apparently laying out what would happen with the businesses were he to be convicted. His 2016 lawsuit stated he wanted his 45% back as well as was asking for a minimum of $12.5 M in damages fro Reagan claiming that he had fraudulently gained full ownership. According to Reagan's lawyer this was a near carbon copy of a suit Calvin had filed in 2014 in a different court that had been dismissed and Calvin had not appealed. Reagan's lawyer seemed to believe the same would come of this case.

As I said in the very beginning of this blog, I feel that he likely got away with murder. Some will argue that Kevin Tubbs' testimony was unreliable and possibly even a lie and will point to all the time it took for him to come forward. I would agree with that, and this was also an issue made in the Tom Foley case also, but even with Tubbs' testimony the jury did not seem to believe the defense.

The bad thing about multiple trials is that the defense always has a leg up after the first trial. In most cases, unless new evidence comes to light between trials, the prosecution has laid their cards on the table and the defense knows it. The defense also knows that a jury did not buy their theories so they have the opportunity to change them or tweek them in any way they feel the need. This was done here in my opinion. The defense had four tries to get it right and more and more bring in evidence or what they called evidence against other people that they believe were suspects. According to the prosecution those suspects were looked at and the things the defense called evidence were tested and there was no link to Michele Harris.

One can hardly say that guilty people are sometimes found not guilty. I would gander to guess that most people would cite the case of Casey Anthony as the number one case they have experienced this in. But, I am sure others, especially those involved in looking into true crimes, can name more than just a few high profile cases in which the defendant was found not guilty for one reason or another. Of course what I, or anyone else thinks does not matter because a court of law has spoken their final word.

It is unlikely that Michele Harris' body will ever be found and even if it is a cause of death after this length of time would likely not be possible. If her body were to be recovered and there were more links to Calvin Harris it would not likely matter much because he has been acquitted. The most that could be done is possibly perjury charges but even that is unlikely. If her remains are found on property not linked to Calvin in any way a conviction would be difficult to obtain at this late time after four trials against her husband.


  1. Although it is quite logical that the police would first look at those closest to a murder victim as possible suspects, in this case, as in many others, they never considered the alternatives. For instance, the police never even considered that the wife might have been kidnapped at the end of her driveway and immediately taken from the local area. Having grown up not far from where this all happened, I can tell you that the area is densely populated enough that the wife's body should have been found by now, if only accidentally.

    The FBI has a database of “unidentified persons” which has the DNA profiles and/or the dental records of unidentified corpses that have been found around the USA. Nowhere in my study of this case did I find that the wife's DNA and dental records were checked against this database. For all we now know, Michele Harris' body may have been buried in a “Jane Doe” pauper's grave shortly after her disappearance and hundreds of miles from where she lived.

    Jack Levin is a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, and is recognized as one of the foremost experts in the world on serial killers. Professor Levin believes that there are as many as twenty “traveling serial killers” roaming the USA at any time. He suggests that few of them are ever caught because they commit their crimes in far flung police jurisdictions that do not communicate with one another. I would also suggest that they are rarely caught because, as in this case, the local police almost always believe that the murderer is a local person. I suspect that people like Cal Harris often end up in prison for such deeds simply because police rarely look beyond their own jurisdiction for criminal suspects.

    Whether or not the wife here might have been kidnapped by someone passing through the area, it is also possible that she was kidnapped by a stranger from the local area. Of course, the police never even considered that possibility because their “tunnel vision” immediately focused on the husband.

    I can tell you that as a juror in this case there is no way that I would have voted “guilty” against Cal Harris, simply because of the lack of physical/forensic evidence against him. As the judge in the fourth trial noted, the amount of blood actually found in the house wasn't of a sufficient quantity to determine that the wife was seriously injured, much less murdered there. And the blood evidence was the bulk of the forensic evidence that did exist against the husband. Cal Harris may have very well murdered his wife, but, ultimately, the prosecution was unable to prove it. Had the police looked beyond the end of their own noses to consider, investigate, and rule out other theories of the crime, their case against the husband might have been stronger.


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