Sometimes victims aren’t very nice people. They aren’t people it’s easy to pity, no matter what they’ve suffered. In fact, Clara Harris (32:28), a Columbian woman, was a “wonderful human being” who “lost it” only once and paid with her life behind bars. Pretty, educated, a dentist and married to a wealthy dentist named David Lynn Harris, Clara seemed to enjoy the American dream
in, of all places, Friendsville, Texas. The Harris’ dental practice was very successful. They had a ski chalet in Colorado. The couple was raising three children, twins, Brian and Bradley and David’s daughter from a previous marriage. It was Clara who had rekindled David’s relationship with Lindsay. David hadn’t spent much time with the little girl since his divorce and Clara helped him to forge a relationship with her. David doted on his pretty wife and became a good father to all of his children.
Of course, dreams are just that – dreams. When Clara was only six, her father died. Her mother had struggled to put her daughter through school. Clara became very perfectionist and placed great stress upon herself. It didn’t help that David was abusive. He was arrogant, self-indulgent and a cheat. His image was very important to him. He drove an expensive car and owned two a massive, beautiful houses, but that wasn’t enough for the dastardly dentist. Soon after the birth of his boys, he began an affair with his pretty receptionist, Gail Bridges. David didn’t bother covering his tracks. He didn’t care if Clara found out about the affair which she did after one of David’s employees simply told her about it.
When Clara found out, she was utterly devastated. She was faithful and devoted to David. She couldn’t understand his betrayal. She couldn’t accept that her status in the community had been belittled. To be fair to her husband, Clara had often ignored David’s needs. She was exhausted with keeping up to the many professional and personal demands of being Clara Harris. David felt neglected and spent more hours at the office where a flirty, attractive Bridges was happy to keep him preoccupied. It had taken months for Bridges to break down David’s defenses and she finally succeeded. Bridges became determined to convince David to divorce Clara and marry her. Clara hadn’t realized how far the affair had gone.
She’d already lost her father years earlier. She was determined to keep her husband. Now obsessed with her husband’s love life, Clara couldn’t stop wondering about Bridges. She demanded information about her and David was happy to comply. He listed several attributes about Bridges that he felt were superior to his wife: breast implants, petite, small feet, slim, all things David declared Clara wasn’t. Nice guy. Poor Clara went on a crash diet and started running on the treadmill daily, losing 15 pounds in order to compete with the mysterious Bridges. She had sex with the loathsome David up to three times a day. She bleached her light brunette hair blonde and got liposuction in an effort to make herself more attractive than Bridges and replace her in David’s affections but to no avail. The affair continued anyway.
Finally, Clara’s work seemed to pay off and David seemed to take notice of his wife. He told her he would break off the affair with Bridges. He promised Clara he would take Bridges out for dinner and tell her the affair was over. Suspicious about his plan, Clara hired a
private investigator who informed Clara that David had continued the affair with Bridges. He photographed David at a hotel with his mistress. In one sense, this was a smart business move. In Texas, all assets in a divorce are shared 50/50 unless a spouse can prove infidelity. Then, assets rise to 90% for the offended spouse. However, Clara preferred to keep David. One night, Clara herself tailed her husband and his mistress to the Nassau Bay Hilton Hotel.
Initially, Clara planned to confront her husband, but instead she lost control and viciously attacked Bridges. Hotel employees broke up the fight momentarily until Clara twisted away from their grasp and returned to bite Bridges. Well, she was a dentist. Finally she was escorted to her Mercedes-Benz. In the parking lot, David held the enraged Clara’s head to the ground in an effort to stop his wife from attacking his mistress. Meanwhile his daughter looked on at the terrible spectacle. When David and Gail turned to leave, Clara got into her car and struck down her husband as her teenage stepdaughter, Lindsay, sat in the passenger seat, screaming vainly at Clara to stop. Then Clara reversed the car and ran over her dead husband again. Most of David’s ribs were fractured. The left side of his chest collapsed, puncturing his left lung and heart. It was a horrific moment Lindsay Harris would never forget. Worse, the entire, brutal attack had been captured on tape.
Clara Harris went on trial on January 22, 2003. Weeks later, she was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. This wasn’t surprising, considering how brutal the video of Clara running down her husband must have looked. Clara went before a parole board in 2013. Her appeal for early release after serving 10 years was denied. She is eligible for parole again in April 2015. A made-for-tv movie about the Harris case called Suburban Madness was aired in 2004. Many women have advocated on Clara’s behalf, stating David Harris got what he deserved. I strongly disagree. Clara Harris did not have the right to enact vigilante justice. She should have divorced the louse and taken 90% of their mutual assets. That would have served as justice.