Five years after a Michigan mother died of what was deemed an accidental overdose at the time, police have charged her husband with murder—with investigators alleging he spiked her cereal with a lethal dose of heroin.
Jason Harris, 44, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with first-degree murder, solicitation of murder and delivery of a controlled substance causing death. His wife, 36-year-old Christina Ann-Thompson Harris, was found dead in her home in September 2014 in a case that, at the time, was seen as a tragic accident.
According to MLive, neighbors found Christina in her bed and were unable to wake her on the morning of Sept. 29. At the time, Jason told police his wife had a cold and he asked a neighbor to check in on her after he left for work.
The Genesee County Medical Examiner ruled Christina’s death an accidental overdose, though her family never knew her to be a drug user. Now, prosecutors say Christina’s family members long had their suspicions about the shocking death.
In October 2014, Jason Harris’ siblings approached local police and said Jason had previously made remarks about “getting rid of Christina” and alleged he had been seeing other women before his wife’s death, police said. Christina’s mother also told authorities that her daughter “seemed fine” one day before her death, contradicting Jason’s story.
Jason’s co-workers recalled him saying he had spiked his wife’s water with Xanax pills, and asked what pills were odorless and tasteless. He was also accused of offering a hit man and his fellow co-worker $5,000 to kill Christina.
“We believe Jason Harris murdered his wife,” Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton told reporters Tuesday. “We believe he put heroin into her cereal and milk the night that she died after getting it from someone, thinking it would be tasteless and odorless much like he had asked his coworkers multiple times.”
Leyton also said Christina’s previous blood work before her death showed no sign of heroin use. At the time of her death, Christina had also recently given birth, and tests of the breast milk she had produced and stored for her baby in the days before her death showed no traces of heroin or any other drug.
Jason allegedly told a co-worker that he “just needed to get rid” of his wife so he wouldn’t have to deal with a divorce, child support payments, or a custody battle. He also allegedly offered a man $5,000 to kill his wife but the man was caught while performing surveillance, Leyton said.
Investigators later confirmed the family’s allegations, and determined that Jason had been communicating with several other women before Christina’s death—including one woman from Rhode Island. He allegedly traveled to the state just days after his wife’s death to visit the woman, and police say Christina found text messages on his phone with the woman prior to her death. The woman and a child moved in with Jason less than two months after Christina died, ABC12 reports. The woman was reportedly still living with Jason at the time of his arrest.
While he was fired from his job after testing positive for methamphetamine use, Jason was able to get a $100,000 life insurance check from Christina’s employer and $20,000 life insurance check from his job after Christina died. A Legacy.com obituary for Christina also directs memorial contributions to be made out to Jason “in lieu of flowers.”
Jason could face life in prison if convicted. According to the Associated Press, he was denied bond at his Tuesday court appearance. His attorney, Nicholas Robinson, told MLive that his client “pled not guilty” and will contest the charges.
“Mr. Harris has been completely cooperative throughout this five year investigation and is eager to have all of the facts revealed when this case is presented,” Robinson said. Jason is due back in court on Sept. 5.