Calvin Harris and his children seek new evidence in disappearance of Michele Harris
In another twist in the case surrounding the disappearance of Michele Harris on Sept. 12, 2001, her husband, who was twice convicted of murder in connection with her disappearance, along with their children - Cayla, Janna, Taylor and Tanner, have announced the launch of a confidential tip line seeking the truth about their mother's disappearance.
A press conference will be held at noon on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at the Owego Treadway located at 1100 State Route 17C in Owego, N.Y. to appeal to the public. Calvin Harris and the children will be joined by Attorney Bruce Barket, former New York Police Department Homicide Detective Jay Salpeter, Investigator Peter Smith, and friends and family to make the announcement.
Cayla Harris appealed to the public, "We want the truth about what happened to our mother. We know there are people out there who have information about mom's disappearance and we know that our father had nothing to do with it. We are asking that these people come forward now."
In a press release received by Soury Communications, Inc. on Monday, Cayla Harris stated, "Some have been contacted by our dad's investigators, but have refused to cooperate. Others, and you know who you are, have remained hidden. To anyone with information about our mom's disappearance, we are begging that you cooperate with the lawyers and investigators."
The family is asking anyone with information to contact the confidential tip line by calling (607) 215-5166.
Michele Harris disappeared on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the 9/11 attacks. She never returned to her home after spending the evening at the bar Lefties, in Waverly, N.Y., where she worked.
According to the release, "She [Michele Harris] was seen there by several employees, at least one of whom she was dating, before her disappearance. Later that same night, she went to the home of a boyfriend, Brian Earley, who lived nearby. She stayed there late into the evening. It was the last known location where she was seen. Michele Harris was also known to associate with men from a nearby steel factory."
In the release, it was explained, "Despite a lack of evidence of his involvement, police and prosecutors immediately targeted Michele's husband, Cal Harris, and ignored credible leads that others were responsible for Michele's disappearance."
In 2005, four years after Michele Harris's disappearance, prosecutors charged Calvin Harris with second-degree murder. Three Judges who have since examined the prosecution's evidence, including one Appellate Division Justice and one Judge from New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, have offered separate opinions that the prosecution's case against Calvin Harris was legally insufficient.
Calvin Harris has been convicted twice for the murder of his wife, Michele Harris. Michele Harris disappeared on Sept. 12, 2001, and neither her body nor a murder weapon has ever been found.
During both trials, held in Tioga County, N.Y., the prosecutor Gerald Keene, who is now serving as Tioga County's Justice, maintained that Calvin Harris murdered his wife as she entered their residence on Hagadorn Hill Road in Spencer, N.Y. - a residence they shared while going through a divorce proceeding.
Keene surrounded his prosecution on circumstantial evidence relating to Calvin Harris' behavior following Michele Harris' disappearance, and witness testimony of alleged threats made to Michele Harris by Calvin Harris.
Keene argued that small amounts of blood spatter found in the garage and inside the door to the residence was that of Michele Harris.
Keene also prosecuted on the argument that Calvin Harris had a financial motive. Calvin Harris' net worth was estimated at $5.4 million during the divorce, and the divorce proceedings were putting his wealth in jeopardy.
The defense, on the other hand, argued that the investigation was too focused on Calvin Harris, and later ignored other leads to include testimony by local farmer Kevin Tubbs - who claimed he witnessed Michele Harris in the early morning hours of Sept. 12, 2001 arguing with a man who was not Calvin Harris at the end of the family's Hagadorn Hill residence.
A statement by a man named John Steele was introduced that paralleled that of Kevin Tubbs. This statement, however, was never introduced as evidence as Steele passed away and was unable to be cross examined.
And the defense claimed there were others who were not looked at close enough like Michele Harris' 23-year old boyfriend, Brian Earley.
Calvin Harris, during the initial investigation, also claimed that his wife [Michele Harris] was using drugs, and was "hanging with a bad crowd."
In spite of these claims, investigators focused on the Hagadorn Hill Road residence, and began a series of coordinated ground and aerial searches of a 200-acre wooded area surrounding the home. Divers and sonar equipment checked the lake bordering the Harris property, and nearby ponds and streams.
State police also stationed troopers with night vision gear around the Harris home. In October 2001, a tracking device was placed on Calvin's truck to secretly monitor his movements for six months, with investigators hoping it would lead them to Michele Harris' body.
In spite of the search efforts, neither a body nor weapon was ever found. The district attorney pursued the case and Calvin Harris was charged with murder in the disappearance of his wife, Michele Harris.
The first trial's verdict was overturned following testimony by Kevin Tubbs that he saw Michele Harris at the end of the driveway in the early morning hours on Sept. 12, 2001, hours after the prosecutor claimed that Calvin Harris had killed her.
Following the second trial held in 2009 in Tioga County, N.Y., in which Calvin Harris was found guilty, he was sent to the Auburn Correctional Facility where he spent approximately three years.
In the fall of 2012, the State Court of Appeals overturned the second-degree murder conviction of Harris, setting the stage for a third trial.
Calvin Harris, when he returned to the Tioga County Courthouse after his conviction was overturned, was subsequently released on a previously set bond.
The two trials held for Calvin Harris following his initial indictment in 2005 gained widespread local and national media coverage, to include an airing on 48-Hours and NBC's Dateline. It was the local reaction to the media attention surrounding this case that led to the defense attorney's position that a change in venue was needed to provide a fair trial for Calvin Harris; a motion that has been granted.
A third trial is now set to begin Sept. 3 before Schoharie County Judge George R. Bartlett III.