Calvin Harris and his children appeal for help
On Wednesday, March 5, 2014, members from the local and national media crowded into a banquet room at the Treadway Inn and Conference Center in Owego, N.Y. for a conference with Calvin Harris and his four children, and the introduction of a Tip Line at (607) 215-5166 that was launched by the Harris children in the hopes of finding out what happened to their mother, Michele Harris.
Tioga County businessman Calvin Harris, who was tried and convicted twice in the disappearance of Michele Harris and is now out on bond following an appeal from New York's highest court, arrived with his children - 19-year old Taylor, 18-year old Cayla, 16-year old Jenna, and 15-year old Tanner to make a plea to the community to help them as they seek the truth regarding the disappearance of their mother.
Their mother, Michele Harris, was last seen on Sept. 12, 2001, and neither her body nor a murder weapon have been found. The initial investigation surrounded Calvin Harris and the family's residence in Spencer, N.Y., where Michele and Calvin Harris were residing while going through a divorce.
Among the media present for the mid-day conference was Marc Goldbaum, producer of 48 Hours; the producer of Dateline NBC; and various local media outlets. Also present at the conference was Calvin Harris' attorney, Bruce Barket of Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon, LLP; former New York homicide detective Jay Salpeter and former prosecutor Peter Smith, both acting as investigators; and several friends and family of both Calvin Harris and Michele Harris.
The atmosphere, in spite of its media presence, was quiet at noon when Calvin Harris was led into the conference room, alongside his four children. The family stood between two signs that depicted the launch of the confidential Tip Line and in front of the podium where Calvin Harris' attorney first addressed the media.
"New York State has the most wrongful convictions," said Barket. He continued, "The case was moved because of the media coverage surrounding this. A year ago Cal [Calvin Harris] asked us to solve the case, and hired a team of lawyers and a team of investigators."
Already, the team explained, a couple of witnesses have come forward and they are looking at a couple of pretty good leads.
Former New York City Detective Jay Salpeter, who has a history of helping to exonerate the wrongfully convicted, spoke about the Tip Line.
"We've been reviewing the investigation, and have started the Tip Line," said Salpeter. "We've already received calls," he added, although he would not go into the details regarding the tips received.
The team also referred to the mystery surrounding Michele Harris' disappearance as a "Cold Case", and stated that they wanted to "fill in the blanks to find out what happened to Michele."
In an emotional moment during the conference, 18-year old Cayla, who is the second oldest child of Michele and Calvin Harris, went to the podium to talk about the Tip Line.
"The Tip Line was requested by myself and the attorneys," said an emotional Cayla, "not Cal. We want to find out the truth about our mother."
Calvin Harris also addressed the media, tearfully, stating, "We have been through a lot, and now we have another trial in September."
Calvin Harris' attorney talked about the Tip Line, stating that they waited, and then were hoping it would be the one thing that would help solve this case.
"They've focused on Cal [Calvin Harris] and never moved off of it," said Barket. Barket also noted that they waited so long because Calvin Harris was hoping that law enforcement and the justice system would have discovered the truth.
"He feels law enforcement has failed the case," Barket added. "He brought us in to do what the police should be doing; and that's solving the case."
Barket also explained that there are hopes that a plea from the children will help find answers.
"They spent the last thirteen years trying to convict on a case that hasn't been solved," Barket added. "They are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole."
The former New York Police Department investigator also talked of the case, and stated that they have had seven calls to the Tip Line already in the days prior to the announcement.
Referencing an old case he worked on, Salpeter said that in that particular case, information came 17 years later.
"People didn't know they had information that was pertinent to the case," Salpeter added.
The team assured the public that all calls are confidential and may be made to (607) 215-5166.