Jennifer Harris: Texomaland Mystery




At the time on May 12, 2002, Christie Farr, Jennifer Harris’s friend was the last person to see her alive in Bonham, Texas. The two women were hanging out at Christie’s house. Rainy weather dominated the night, and when Jennifer left Christie’s house, she did not tell Christie where she was going. Jennifer was 28 years old and drove a green jeep.

By 2001, Jennifer had married Rob Holman, who she met in high school. Rob followed Jennifer to a Dallas suburb, where she had enrolled in massage therapy school three years earlier. Rob wanted to move back to the small-town lifestyle of Bonham, and Jennifer met James Hamilton at school. James was living with the mother of his child with another baby on the way.

Rob moved back to Bonham, and Jennifer and James opened a massage therapy and wellness studio in Frisco, Texas, which failed. They also began seeing each other romantically. James wanted to marry Jennifer, but their relationship was also rocky. Looking at bankruptcy with the studio and her breakup with James, Jennifer began seeing Rob again, who had found a girlfriend. Rob was seeing both Jennifer and the girlfriend.

On Mother’s Day, May 12, 2002, Jennifer visited Christie and left around 8 p.m. Bonham resident, Rhonda Fitzwater, walked her dog nightly. Rhonda was walking down CR 2610 near Lake Bonham, a deserted road, when she spotted a green jeep left empty on the side of this road. Rhonda didn’t think much of it until she walked her dog the next night and saw the jeep still there. Rhonda alerted the Bonham police.

The police soon discovered that the jeep belonged to Jennifer Harris. The search for the missing Jennifer commenced for six days with no results. A fisherman found Jennifer’s body floating in the Red River on May 18, 2002. An investigation into Jennifer’s murder ensued. Police questioned Rob Holman and James Hamilton, and they both denied seeing Jennifer on May 12.

After their questioning, James was at a McDonalds with a friend 50 miles away and passed a lie detector test. Rob agreed to take a polygraph test, but did not take the test. The sheriffs have not charged or arrested either man in relation to Jennifer’s murder. Jennifer had told at least one friend that she might be pregnant. Her autopsy stunned the medical examiner and investigators. Jennifer’s uterus and other body parts were missing from her body. Jyl Wagner, Jennifer’s best friend, and Rob Holman reported that Jennifer had told them she was pregnant by Rob before her murder.

Rob reported that he had last seen Jennifer a month earlier near the Bonham Drive In Movie Theater. There was no evidence that Jennifer had been pregnant. Forensic examiners in Dallas concluded that her missing body parts had been destroyed by turtles and fish during her six days in the Red River. Jennifer’s death was ruled homicidal violence without an exact cause of death due to decomposition.

Jennifer’s case quickly went cold, while rumors about her murder in Fannin County fired up. Today, a cart with five storage boxes of evidence and a few files related to Jennifer’s case sits in the Fannin County sheriff’s evidence room. In 2016, Mark Johnson ran for Fannin County Sheriff and made a promise to Jennifer’s father, Jerry Harris that he would find Jennifer’s killer and renewed Jennifer’s investigation. Mark took office in 2017.

Timeline of Events and Evidence:

2002: March, Jennifer moves back to Bonham.

2002: Jennifer is last seen by Christie Farr around 8 p.m. on May 12.

2002: Rhonda Fitzwater sees Jennifer’s abandoned jeep on May 13 near the Lake Bonham Hoedown on CR 2610, and on May 14, she see the jeep still there and reports the abandoned jeep to the sheriffs.

2002: May 15, sheriffs question Rob and James.

2002: May 18, A fisherman finds Jennifer’s body floating in the Red River badly decomposed.

2002: A distinctive blue marl mud is found on Jennifer’s body only in a few places on that part of the Red River.

2002: May 12, a caretaker’s cottage 200 yards from where the fisherman discovers Jennifer’s body burns down. Investigators at the time believe Jennifer met her killer at the cottage and set the cottage on fire to destroy evidence of the murder.

2002: Jennifer’s laptop computer and possibly her clothing were booked into evidence.

2003: Deborah Lambert saw a news report about Jennifer’s unsolved murder and reports to police that she saw a girl with reddish-brown hair on the banks of the Red River with three men while driving across a bridge with her mother at 5 p.m. on Mother’s Day, Mya 12, 2002.

Two of the men had hold of Jennifer’s elbows according to Deborah. It looked like the girl was trying to get away from them, and the men were restraining her. Deborah said she made eye-contact with the girl who looked terrified. Deborah did not call the sheriffs at the time of the sighting because she was too afraid to get involved. Deborah’s account does not fit in with the investigator’s timeline.

2004: The Texas Rangers investigate Jennifer’s murder. The show Deborah a photo lineup of the men she saw with the girl. She identifies Rob Holman. Rob Holman on the advice of his attorney did not speak with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers suspended their investigation in 2005. Their official report says, “No physical evidence, specific cause of death, or credible witnesses link any particular person as a suspect.

2010: Daryl Parker began working on Jennifer’s case in 2011 as a lieutenant in the Fannin County Sheriff’s office and is now a private investigator on her case without charging a fee.

2011: Daryl Parker excavates the foundation where the cottage burned down and its well, and finds blue marl mud.

2017: Sheriff Mark Johnson reopens Jennifer’s case and reports that evidence was mishandled due to lack of experience and training of officers in 2002. Jennifer’s laptop and clothing are discovered as missing in the evidence. Evidence from Jennifer’s investigation was stored in pods on the sheriff’s property. Much of the evidence was found destroyed by water leaks in the pods. 

2017: Joe Moura, private investigator and CBS news consultant, is hired and believes the original investigation into Jennifer’s murder was extremely weak. He works with Sheriff Mark Johnson and there is no physical evidence in the case, only circumstancial evidence.

Joe believes the caretaker’s cottage was not the scene of Jennifer’s murder because a fire of that magnitude would attract too much attention on May 12, but Jennifer’s body had not been discovered when the cottage burned down. Joe believes that the photo lineup with Deborah Lambert was not conducted correctly, but the Texas Rangers will not comment on an unsolved case. Deborah and her mother are deceased.

Dane Kirby is the Fannin County Sheriff in 2021.

2002-2021

Alyssa Wernick, Jennifer’s younger sister, her husband Barry Wernick, a filmmaker, and Jerry Harris, Alyssa and Jennifer’s father, have been working with investigators for 19 years to try to solve this murder. In 2017, Barry began production on a TV miniseries documentary that is now in postproduction, Justice for Jennifer.

Jennifer Harris’s murder remains unsolved. The Harris family, City of Bonham, Fannin County, and all of the investigators past and present have theories, persons of interest, suspects, and witness testimonies, which lead to different conclusions. Jennifer’s murder is listed as an unsolved Texas Rangers Case, and her case is still open in the Fannin County sheriff’s office.

Barry and Alyssa Wernick have raised $50,000 in reward money. Jennifer’s case heated up from 2017-2019, but is now on ice again. Jennifer’s case has impacted the Texoma town and county like no other in recent history, and residents want this case to come to a close, and Jennifer’s family wants answers.

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK5BFTkBpd4

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jennifer-harris-2002-unsolved-murder-case-is-the-talk-of-small-texas-town/

https://mytruecrimestories.com/2019/10/08/corruption-or-inexperienced-the-jennifer-harris-cold-case/

https://redrabbitjustice.com/




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