Having welcomed their second child just four months earlier, it should have been a happy time for Christina Ann Thompson and husband Jason Harris. But in September 2014, Christina confided in a friend that her 11-year marriage was in trouble.
The 36-year-old loved domestic life and was creative, enjoying scrapbooking, crafting and family game nights.
But Harris worked in a plastics factory and spent as much time away from his wife and children as he could. Behind closed doors at their home in Davison, Michigan, tensions had been rising.
On 29 September, Harris called a neighbour at around 10am and asked them if they could check on Christina because she wasn’t answering his calls or replying to his messages.
It was an unusual request.
Harris told them Christina hadn’t been feeling very well the night before, so he had taken the children to work with him in the morning and left her in bed.
Christina had recently given birth to their second child
The neighbour went round and noticed the door was unlocked. Inside, they found Christina unresponsive in bed and cold to the touch. Another neighbour, a registered nurse, confirmed that she had no pulse.
They called 911 but when the emergency services arrived there was sadly nothing they could do. Christina was dead.
How had the mother died so suddenly in her home?
There was no sign of an attack or a break-in. Harris told police that Christina had been feeling weak, sick and hungry the night before, so he’d got her a bowl of cereal with milk.
He said she had been struggling with a cold that was aggravating her asthma. Harris said that while eating the cereal, she struggled to hold the spoon and had then dropped the bowl, fallen from her chair and passed out on the floor.
But instead of calling an ambulance, he’d helped her into bed, cleared up the mess and gone to sleep too. Harris claimed Christina had been coughing and had a restless night.
He said that in the morning, Christina was still sleeping when he went to work and he had grown concerned when she failed to reply to his messages.
Had Christina been ill and in worse shape than they thought?
A neighbour found Christina dead in bed
The thing was that Christina’s mum had spent time with her daughter the day before she died and said she hadn’t seemed unwell at all – and was actually in good spirits. Then, the autopsy revealed something truly shocking.
There was heroin in Christina’s system and the medical examiner determined that the cause of death was an accidental overdose. Everyone who knew Christina was stunned. Did she have a secret addiction none of them knew about?
Loved ones refused to believe it for one second. Christina didn’t do drugs of any kind. So how did she have heroin in her system? While her death was on record as being accidental, the police weren’t so certain and continued to investigate.
Within days, many witnesses came forward with distressing allegations about Harris. His own brother told police that he was unfaithful to Christina and accused him of murdering her.
Some of Harris’s colleagues from the factory contacted the police and said they’d heard him complaining about Christina ahead of her death.
He had even asked one co-worker for drugs so his wife “would go to sleep and quit nagging”.
The colleague had given Harris Xanax pills, a tranquiliser usually taken for anxiety. Harris admitted he had put them in her glass of water but said she’d refused to drink it as it tasted funny. He then asked another workmate for pills that couldn’t be smelt or tasted. Christina doted on her family while Harris stayed away from them
Drugging his wife was a serious enough allegation – but investigators were convinced that Harris had wanted her dead.
Another colleague came forward to say Harris had said he’d tried to hire a hitman to kill Christina – but the assassin was arrested for something else before he could carry out the contract.
Harris then said he could pay the colleague $10,000 if he’d do it for him. The man refused and didn’t report the conversation, believing it was just talk.
One co-worker who asked Harris why he didn’t just get a divorce if he was so unhappy said he replied that he needed to get rid of Christina, but he didn’t want to lose the kids or have to pay child support or alimony.
Investigators also discovered that Harris had been talking to another woman, with whom he had shared 5,900 messages, and she wasn’t the only one he was in contact with.
Had Christina found out and confronted him? Within weeks of her death, neighbours had seen a woman at the house with Harris.
And one of Christina’s friends revealed the tragic mum had told her that if anything happened to her, she should, “Look at Jason.” Now, everyone was.
But police still had no proof that Harris had been involved in the death. As the probe ground on, he collected $120,000 in life insurance and carried on as normal – which was devastating for Christina’s loved ones.
Determined to prove Christina wasn’t a drug user and that her death had been foul play, her family had an idea.
She had been breast-feeding her four-month-old when she had died and there were three packages of frozen breast milk at her parents’ home.
In 2016, that breast milk was tested to see if Christina had been taking drugs. It was the first time in the history of Michigan that a prosecutor had asked a crime lab to test breast milk. And when the results came back, there was no trace of drugs in the milk. It was a crucial piece of evidence.
By now, Harris had been fired from the factory for constantly failing drug tests. The jury found Jason Harris, 47, guilty on all charges
Police believed he had spiked his wife’s bowl of cereal with heroin, hoping she wouldn’t be able to taste or smell it, and then did nothing to save her as she lay dying.
In August 2019, nearly five years after Christina died, investigators finally arrested Harris. He was charged with first-degree murder, solicitation of murder and delivery of a controlled substance causing death.
“We believe Jason Harris murdered his wife,” police told reporters at a press conference. The medical examiner also changed Christina’s death certificate to state that the cause was homicide.
The trial was held in November last year. The prosecution said Harris had poisoned his wife with heroin because he wanted to leave her and avoid losing custody of his children or paying Christina any money.
Harris was also involved with a woman from Providence, Rhode Island, and there were emails and photos he sent to other women, too.
Just nine days after Christina died, Harris had bought a plane ticket to see the woman in Providence – and shortly afterwards she’d moved into his house with her daughter.
The conversations he’d had leading up to Christina’s death were also damning. While he’d pleaded not guilty to killing her, he’d told so many people that he wanted her gone. Jason Harris still denied his guilt at sentencing
The jury found Harris, 47, guilty on all charges. In December, Genesee Circuit Court Judge David Newblatt said at the sentencing that he agreed with the verdict – and he didn’t hold back when speaking to Harris.
“You are guilty. You did this. You are a murderer. You are a liar,” he said. “I want to make this very clear. The jury saw through your lies and I see through your lies. You wanted to get rid of your wife, not to have to pay support, you wanted all the property for yourself, you wanted the money.”
When Harris was given the chance to speak, he showed no remorse and continued to claim that he was innocent. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
The shocking and callous nature of Christina’s murder at what should have been such a joyful time for the new mother had made headlines around the world.
With Harris now behind bars, Christina has finally got justice. But nothing will heal the pain of those grieving her loss – and her two children will never get their mum back.