When David Harris wed Columbia-born beauty queen Clara Suarez in a Valentine’s Day 1992 ceremony becoming of royalty at the Nassau Bay Hilton Hotel, no one could know the tragedy that would befall the groom and send his beautiful bride to prison, just five short months after celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary.
Dr. & Dr. Harris
Clara and husband David were both respected dental practitioners in Houston, their offices in the shadow NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Clara had a lucrative practice as a dentist, while David’s specialty was orthodontia.
In just short time, the Harrisses were exhibiting proof of success with a half million dollar home (mid 1990s pricing) and high-dollar import vehicles.
David and Clara were raising his daughter Lindsey Harris from a previous marriage. And although Clara loved the girl like her own, she was desperate to be a mother instead of just a stepmother. Clara struggled to get pregnant but, after undergoing fertility treatments, she gave birth to twin boys, Brian and Bradley in 1998.
It seemed that life was perfect and complete for the Harris couple. What more could anyone want?
David apparently wanted another woman.
Not Just The Receptionist
David Harris’ primary office was in Clear Lake, while he worked from the office shared with Clara in Lake Jackson only two days each week.
At the Clear Lake office, he employed a married woman by the name of Gail Bridges as his receptionist. Before long, however, she and David began having an affair. As a result, David began spending more time away from home and longer hours at his office, as well as spending large amounts of money as he lavished gifts on his mistress along with paying for lavish hotel rooms for their couplings.
Truth be told, it wasn’t David’s first affair. He openly flirted with women everywhere he went, even showing his wife notes scribbled by waitresses at Hooter’s. But Gail felt special nonetheless.
Although his Clear Lake staff, and even some at the Lake Jackson office, were aware of David’s infidelity, Clara seemingly had no clue.
The cluelessness came to an end sometime in June 2002, and Clara hired the services of Blue Moon Investigations. They entered into a contract for services with Clara, which outline standard provisions of any decent agency; one of those provisions being, essentially, that the client was not to interfere with the dectectives’ work. Clients were advised to let the investigators do the work and simply wait for the report upon completion.
And so Clara, heartbroken and dreading confirmation of suspicions, tried to carry with business as usual.
She Saw Red…Then She Gassed It!
Blue Moon investigators made a deadly mistake. When Clara called their offices on July 24, 2002, for an update, they told her they had a detective watching David and Gail who were currently shacked up at the Nassau Bay Hilton Hotel.
Enraged, Clara loaded her teenage stepdaughter into her Mercedes-Benz and headed for hotel; the same hotel in which she had married David just ten years earlier!
When she arrived, Clara found Gail’s Lincoln Navigator parked in the hotel’s parking garage and she set about vandalizing the car by bending windshield wipers and keying the paint. Then she went inside looking for David. Her behavior was erratic and her speech loud and angry. When she finds David with his lover, she lashes out physically at Gail but David wrestles Clara to the ground. Clara is escorted from the building by hotel security.
Clara returned to her car to wait. Sitting in her car with only a teen for company, Clara raged against the indigently as only a woman who has been on cheated on by her husband can understand. She cried. She screamed. The longer she sat in the parking lot, staring at the hotel where she knew her husband was making love to his mistress, the greater the rage became.
Finally David and Gail exited the hotel, obviously unaware of his wife’s presence or even the scene she had created in the hotel earlier. As the naughty couple approached Gail’s, the Blue Moon detective tasked with capturing the marital indiscretions of David was shocked as he witnessed, through the lens of his video camera, Clara behind the wheel of her Mercedes-Benz, sped toward the other woman’s car in a direct path toward the husband, who just minutes earlier had wrestled her to the ground during the attack on his girlfriend.
The camera continued to film as the car made contact with David’s body as he was tossed into the air and then landed about 30 feet from where he initially stood.
But the worst wasn’t over. Clara then circled around, crossing two grassy medians according to witnesses, and ran over David’s unmoving body; and circled around to run over him again. A total of three times, Clara ran the two ton car over her husband. Gail Bridges stood watching, too stunned to move.
All the while, Lindsey sat screaming at her stepmother from the Mercedes’ passenger side; begging Clara to stop.
David was declared dead at 9:48 p.m. that evening. Clara was arrested for murder.
Murder? It’s Debatable
When the story about the scorned woman who had used her Mercedes to extract revenge on her cheating husband, a nation was suddenly tossed into a debate: Was it really murder?
Some argued that, yes, it was murder, even first degree murder and warranted the death penalty. On the other side of the aisle, with a majority made up of women (especially women who’d walked in a cheated woman’s shoes), insisted it was a crime of passion and David got what he deserved – mistresses everywhere should take note, next time it could be them.
A Harris County, Texas, jury would have the official and final say. On February 14, 2003, which ironically would have been David and Clara’s eleventh anniversary, the jury found her guilty of second degree murder.
Clara Harris was sentenced to twenty years behind bars. She will first be eligible for parole in 2013.
Lindsey Harris, along with her mother (David’s first wife), quickly filed suit against Clara Harris in hopes of claiming David’s insurance proceeds and inheriting his portion of the estate. During hearings on the matter, Lindsey Harris testified that she was severely traumatized from her stepmother’s actions. The young lady, only sixteen at the time of her father’s death, stated she had since attempted suicide on at least four occasions.
Although David’s parents and brother had testified during the sentencing phase of the trial that they had forgiven Clara for murdering their son and brother, they too filed suit against the estate; including Brian and Bradley as Petitioners in their claim.
In the end, Galveston County Probate Judge Gladys Burwell ruled that David’s three children would receive almost $2 million each while Clara was allowed to retain roughly $1.2 million in assets. This was said to be the equivelant of David’s half of the estate plus a little over 50 percent of Clara’s half. Friends and family of David Harris publicly criticized the ruling.
Clara and David’s twin sons continue to live Texas with David’s parents, Gerald and Mildred Harris. It’s been reported that they regularly visit their mother at the Mountain View women’s prison in Gatesville, Texas.
The 1995 movie Suburban Madness is based on this case. Below is a short clip of the murder scene.
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