BALTIMORE SUN, August 22, 1994


The Harrison marriage is well chronicled by official records.  Beginning at least as far back as October 1989 and continuing to within five days of Mrs. Harrison’s disappearance, Baltimore County police received no fewer than 20 calls about domestic battery involving the Harrisons.  In a number of cases, one or both of them appeared to have been drinking.  Sometimes there were accusations of infidelity.


Mrs. Harrison accused her husband of hitting slapping or throwing her to the ground.  Her reports to the officers had a numbing repetitiveness:


11/28/91: Mrs. Harrison stated that her husband pulled her hair and struck her in back with his hands.  Mrs. Harrison showed this officer a red mark on her back on right side.


4/26.92: Susan Harrison, wife of defendant, stated that defendant threw her down the steps from second floor, causing an abrasion to her left knee.


2/16.93: I met with Mrs. Susan Harrison who stated … that suspect held her against her will … During the time she was locked in the room, he periodically entered and threw water, urine and soda on victim Harrison.


Last Christmas, she unsuccessfully appealed to a Baltimore county judge for a restraining order against Mr. Harrison, claiming he “through me into the Christmas tree – broke my ribs, gave me several lacerations and bruises to my body.  He held me captive for 10 hour and finally got naked to rape me and I escaped to a friend’s house.”


On four occasions, Mr. Harrison was charged with battery.  In three of those cases the charges were dropped.  In the fourth, he was acquitted.  On most occasions, Mrs. Harrison refused to press charges, according to friends….



Friends express little doubt that Mr. Harrison frequently had struck his wife.


“I’ve seen her with her face a mess, blackened eye and so forth,” said Mr. Hurley, her brother.


“Her face once, it was black and blue under her eyes,” said Mary Jo Gordon, a friend.  “He broke her wrist once, her ribs another time.”





In December 1988, Jim and Susan married.  By that time, she already had suffered a broken arm – she said at the time she’d fallen off a bike, but years later told her family that Jim had broken it.  She had also called police numerous times, claiming Jim punched her in the eye, Jim punched her in the mouth, Jim threw water on her, Jim raped her.  He routinely denied the charges; she usually dropped them.  Shortly before their wedding, Jim was acquitted of two counts of battery against Susan.  After their wedding, this pattern of injuries and calls for help continued….


Harrison took early retirement and stopped going to work two years before his pension kicked in.  Jim began spending days at home, and the couple’s calls to the police became more frequent.  Often both had been drinking.  Each claimed the other was the attacker, though Susan is the only one whose bones were ever broken