A Man And His Adult Son Were Found Murdered 35 Years Ago. A Longtime Suspect Was Just Convicted.

A Connecticut man and his adult son were found dead and bound with their throats slashed on August 27, 1987. The man long thought responsible for the crimes was just found guilty on Tuesday.

Police had gone to check on Fred Harris, 59, and his son, Greg Harris, 23, after a relative reported they hadn’t heard from them for around a week, The New York Times reported in 2019. Officers found the two men in a bedroom upstairs, their throats slashed and stab wounds in their chests. Their hands were tied behind their backs, and Fred’s feet were bound with his pants unbuttoned. Greg’s pants and underwear had been pulled down to his ankles.

“Any murder is horrific,” Hamden Police Captain Ronald Smith said in 2019. “But this was over the top.”

The men had already been dead for several days before police found their bodies. Police determined that Greg had been able to free himself from the attacker in an attempt to escape, but had been caught, tied up again, and then sexually assaulted.

Law enforcement quickly zeroed in on a suspect: Willie McFarland, now 55. McFarland even confessed to the crime in August 1996, saying he had “found religion and was dying of H.I.V.” He told police over the next several months that he had gone to Harris’ condo to steal money or a gun and forced his way into the home when Greg answered the door. He said he forced them upstairs and used a phone cord to tie them up.

After killing them, McFarland said he looked through Fred’s pockets for money and then ransacked the apartment, stealing a total of $31.

Despite McFarland’s confession, police couldn’t find any physical evidence to connect him to the crime, CBS News reported.

In 2018, police used the latest DNA technology to test a glove found at the scene of the murders, and found that it was “at least 1.5 million times more likely” than not that McFarland had worn the glove.

Police arrested McFarland in 2019, and he was convicted in November 2022.

“In utilizing innovative investigative techniques, advances in forensic science, and the determination to hold perpetrators of horrendous crimes accountable, today’s jury verdict is the result of a 35-year quest by dedicated investigators and prosecutors who never gave up their search for justice for the victims of these horrendous crimes,” State’s Attorney John P. Doyle, Jr. said in a press release following the verdict.

McFarland is scheduled to be sentenced on January 31, 2023.

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