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Advances in DNA testing helps in charging Connecticut man, 52, in 1987 ‘heinous’ double murder cold case – Willie McFarland admitted decapitating a father and son 20 years ago, but had left no linking physical evidence

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Convicted sex offender Willie McFarland, has been charged with a 32-year-old cold case double homicide
McFarland, 52, of New Haven, Connecticut was charged more than two decades after he confessed to nearly decapitating a man and his son
He allegedly killed is Fred Harris, 59, and his 23-year-old son, Greg Harris in August 1987 
The father and son were found dead in their Hamden home with their throats deeply slit after being tied up with telephone cords
HIV positive McFarland, claiming to have found religion, admitted to killing the men in 1996 while imprisoned for sexual assault
Investigators were unable to charge him because no physical evidence linked him to the crime
Advances in DNA testing recently confirmed McFarland’s confession
He was arrested at his home Wednesday morning and charged with two counts of murder and held in lieu of $2 million bond

A convicted sex offender in Connecticut has been charged with a 32-year-old double homicide – more than two decades after he confessed to nearly decapitating a man and his son, authorities said.
Willie McFarland, 52, of New Haven, was arrested Wednesday in the August 1987 slayings of Fred Harris and his son, Greg Harris.
59-year-old Fred Harris, then 59, and his son Greg, then 23, were violently murdered late in the night of Aug. 21, 1987.
The details, never before released to the public, paint a shocking scene and a deliberate assailant who wore two yellow gloves and attempted to clean the knife and some parts of the home, according to a detailed arrest warrant affidavit released Wednesday.
The men were found dead in their Hamden home with their throats deeply slit, and nearly decapitated, after being tied up with telephone cords, according to the Hartford Courant.

Greg Harris also was violently sexually assaulted. Just hours after the murders, McFarland had been arrested in New Haven on charges of sexually assaulting a person with a knife.
A week later, McFarland was interviewed in connection to the Harris slayings. He insisted however, he wasn’t involved and only knew Greg Harris from the car wash business where they worked.
McFarland actually admitted to killing the men in 1996 while imprisoned for sexual assault. McFarland, who said he found religion while locked up and infected with HIV, told police he wanted to confess to the slayings, ultimately giving several interviews over several months.
McFarland who had a criminal history and had just been released from jail the day before the crime, said he did it because he was looking for money and a gun he believed to be in the home.,
Investigators however, were unable to charge him because no physical evidence linked him to the crime. – Without physical evidence, prosecutors ultimately refused several applications for an arrest warrant.
A decade later, police in Hamden again thought they had the evidence they needed in 2006. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the suspect refused to cooperate with investigators and had to be restrained to obtain a DNA sample.
At a press conference Wednesday police said McFarland and the two Harris men knew each other. On the day of the murders Harris showed up at the home and asked to borrow a knife. When one of the victims handed the knife over, he forced his way into the home.
Those DNA tests didn’t link McFarland to the scene, but new methods conducted on a yellow glove found inside the Harris’ home tied him to the slayings late last year.
In recent developments, advances in DNA testing recently confirmed what Hamden cops had suspected all along, according to the detective who took McFarland’s confession.
The suspect was arrested at his home without incident Wednesday morning and charged with two counts of murder. He was arraigned in Superior Court in Meriden later in the morning and held in lieu of $2 million bond.
“It’s a crime that none of us will ever forget,” Capt. Ronald Smith noted. “We’ve been living with that case for many, many years and to have it finally end with an arrest, it’s just an incredible feeling.”
Acting Hamden Police Chief John Cappiello said the arrest should serve as a warning for other suspects who may have eluded capture for decades.
“There are a lot more cold cases being solved because of DNA advancement and scientific technology,” Cappiello said

 

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