|So when 35-year-old
Michele Harris disappeared, it mystified State Police
Captain Mark Lester. "Normally you would expect at some
point along this way we're gonna find her," he says.
"And we still haven't been able to find her remains."
As correspondent Erin Moriarty reports, in the early
morning hours of Sept. 12, 2001, Michele's van was found
at the end of her driveway.
But getting a search under way wouldn't be easy. "It's
the day after 9/11. We had just sent five or 600
troopers to New York City the night before. Most of our
canines had been sent to New York City. Most of our
aircraft was working with New York City. So, trying to
gear this thing up quickly wasn't happening as easy as
it normally would," Lester explains.
Adding to the pressure was that Michele was the wife of
Cal Harris, a prominent businessman from a wealthy and
influential Tioga County family.
The patriarch, Dwight Harris, bought a string of car
dealerships for his three sons to help him run.
Michele, fresh out of college, was working as a
secretary at one of the dealerships when she caught the
eye of Dwight's youngest son Cal.
"Michele was just like a magnet. She was beautiful. She
was full of life. And she smiled all the time. And she
was a happy person. And she was young, I think that that
was something that thoroughly attracted Cal," remembers
Barbara Thayer, Cal and Michele's nanny housekeeper.
And Cal was a catch -- an outstanding athlete in high
school, an all-American lacrosse player in college, and
by the age of 27 a successful businessman.
Michele, the older of two children from a working class
family, had never met anyone like Cal. "Michelle came
from a small town, not a wealthy family or anything like
that," Barb says. "And then here's this man that kinda
sweeps ya off your feet. And you know, you travel and
you go to Hawaii and you do fun things. Life could be
pretty rosy, you know?"
It was a fairytale romance and no one was happier than
Michele when she married Cal and became pregnant.
By the time she was 33, she had four children under the
age of six. And Cal provided well: the couple lived on a
252-acre estate, complete with a private lake.
Cindy and Tom Turner spent most weekends with the
couple. "You could tell they loved each other very
much," Tom says. "I mean, they always wanted to be
around each other."
If there were any marital problems, Michele kept them
hidden from friends and family, including her
sister-in-law Shannon Taylor. "I thought that her life
was absolutely perfect. You never saw her when she
wasn't smiling or laughing," Shannon remembers.
That is, until Michele's fourth child was born. That's
when Shannon would learn that life at the Harris house
was no longer quite so perfect.
Michele began talking about Calís temper and his
controlling behavior. "Everything just had to be
absolutely perfect," Shannon says.
Asked what would happen if things weren't perfect,
Shannon tells Moriarty, "He'd scream. He'd yell. He
wanted her to dress a certain way."
"He wanted her thin. He wanted her to look good. And she
would lose weight for him," recalls Cindy Turner.
But nothing she did, Michele told friends, seemed to
please Cal. "Cal had told her that she was born in Tioga
Center, raised in Tioga Center, and she'd die in Tioga
Center, like 'You're small town. You're beneath me.
Youíre never going to be up to my level,'" Barb says.
And then Michele discovered Cal was having an affair.
Cal and Michele tried to save the marriage, but in
January 2001, after 10 years, Michele filed for divorce.
But according to Shannon and Michele's brother Greg, Cal
did not want the divorce.
Greg says it was a bitter split, as Michele fought with
Cal over money, demanding a full accounting of his
The situation was made even worse because the couple,
forced by the courts, continued sharing the house.
But on Sept. 9, 2001, while horseback riding, Barb
remembers Michele seemed happier. "And we were coming
back down towards the barn and she said 'I'm so happy. I
can't believe it.' She says, 'I'm finally getting my
life back. I canít believe how I feel,'" Barb recalls.
Michele had not told her husband yet, but she had
decided to accept Calís financial offer and finalize the
divorce. Three days later, just hours before she was
supposed to meet her lawyer, Michele disappeared.
(CBS) On Sept. 12, 2001, the world was focused on the
thousands missing in Manhattan.
In Owego, N.Y., 196 miles away, there was another
disappearance that might have been overlooked, if it
hadn't been for a call to state police investigator Sue
Mulvey from Michele's divorce lawyer. "And he said that
she hadn't come home, which was totally out of character
for her," Mulvey remembers. "And he was concerned for
So was Michele's family. Shannon Taylor immediately
feared the worst. "I said to the secretary when I walked
out of my office, I said, 'I'm going. I don't know when
I'll be back. I am pretty sure that my brother-in-law
killed my sister-in-law,'" Shannon remembers.
Less than an hour after Michele's divorce lawyer made
the call, investigators Mike Myers and Mike Young
arrived at Cal's dealership to question him.
"He was very calm, and unemotional," Young remembers.
"He didn't seem to us that he was trying to hide
anything or stop us from doing anything," Myers adds.
If Cal had something to hide, he sure didn't act like
it. He even took the investigators back to his house so
they could look around for themselves.
The investigators say Cal granted them full access to
the entire home, and Young says they didn't spot
anything unusual as they went through the house.
When Cal returned to his office, he left Young and Myers
alone on his property. "He wasn't concerned at all about
us being in his house or at the end of his driveway.
There was no problem," Myers says.
But to Myers, Cal seemed almost too unconcerned: "He
comes across as personable and cooperative. But to me,
it seems like there's a little something missing,
everything was almost programmed, is what I felt when we
were talkin' to him."
Cal denied he had anything to do with Michele's
disappearance. Instead, he told investigators to take a
closer look at Michele herself.
She was still sharing a house with her husband, but
Michele was living the life of a single woman. After Cal
cut off much of her allowance, she began to work nights
at a restaurant. Suddenly, Michele had freedom, money of
her own and new men in her life.
"All these other people keep popping up with things in
their backgrounds or relationships they had with Michele
that we're goingÖthey could easily be a suspect in this
thing, also," Capt. Lester says.
On top of the list: 23-year-old Brian Earley. Not only
was Michele dating the much younger man, she was with
him the night she disappeared.
"You were one of the last people to see her alive,
Brian," Moriarty remarks.
"Last person who is admitting to it," Brian replies.
On the evening of Sept. 11, Brian admits Michele had
stopped by his apartment after work. He says she left to
drive home just after 11 p.m. "I walked her to her van,
closed the door. I leaned in the window. Gave her a kiss
goodnight, told her I loved her, see her tomorrow. That
was it. She backed out of my parking spot, drove away,"
Brian, a land surveyor living in Philadelphia, started
dating Michele after he met her at a local bar in the
fall of 2000. "Said she was married. Said she had four
children. Said she was not happy with her marriage,"
That Michele was married and still living with her
husband didn't worry Brian.
And in June 2001, Brian gave up his job and home to move
to Tioga County just to be near Michele. He even gave
her money to help buy a house in Owego.
Brian says he gave her a "good chunk" of his money. "But
it was alright. I wasn't doing anything with it," he
says. "I loved her."
And he hoped to marry Michele as soon as her divorce was
final. But, Barb Thayer says Michele didnít see the
relationship in quite the same way. "Michele was
certainly not gonna go from what she was just going
through and turn right around and get married," she
But Brian wasn't the only man Michele was seeing.
(CBS) Michele had also dated a co-worker Michael Kasper,
a secret she kept from even her closest friend, Nikki
Burdick. "That I did not know about. I think I was as
surprised as anybody else that found out about that,"
As it turned out, before Michele saw Brian on the night
she disappeared, she had drinks after work with Michael
Sue Mulvey says he did not have an alibi for that night.
Drinking with Michele and Kasper was another co-worker,
Michael Hakes. A routine look into his background took
investigators by surprise - he is an ex-convict with a
"He had a rape conviction in Arizona and had served ten
years in prison," Mulvey says.
A convicted rapist, two boyfriends, and police were
still looking at the estranged husband. As part of the
investigation, forensic specialist Steve Andersen was
sent to the Harris home to take a closer look.
"Thereís quite obvious to me that we had blood spatter
in the house. I could see it as soon as I walked in the
house," Andersen says.
Andersen says he found tiny specks of blood on a kitchen
doorway that investigators who had been in the home two
days earlier didn't see.
Suddenly, investigators had a possible crime scene,
which made Michele's husband look more and more like the
In the weeks following Michele's disappearance, the
mystery weighed heavily on friends like Nikki Burdick.
"I mean I look at how much I miss her. And she was just
my friend. I can't imagine what her brother, Shannon,
her dad and her kids are going through. I mean she
wouldnít want this for anybody, nobody," she says.
But Michele's husband, Cal, seemed to have no trouble
moving on. Barb Thayer says Cal took up a relationship
with an old girlfriend, less than three weeks after
Barb continued to watch the children for Cal after
Michele disappeared. "He never asked meÖ'Have you heard
from Michele? Did Michele call you? Is she wondering
where the kids are?' He never has mentioned Michele to
me. And I worked for him for a solid year afterward,"
Michele's father, Gary Taylor, says Cal never called
him. Gary is deeply troubled by Calís apparent lack of
concern. "When we'd have birthday parties for the kids,
he would drive 'em down sometimes. And he would never
look at you or look at you in the face," Gary explains.
ďSo thatís when it became kinda more evident to me that
I think he might have had more to do with it than I was
"You knew something had happened to Michele. But who did
you think was responsible for her disappearance?"
Moriarty asks Michele's friend Nikki.
"Her husband. There was never a question. Never, ever a
question," she says.
But weeks turned into months, and no arrest.
"Investigators would call and say 'Don't worry,'" Gary
recalls. "I was thinking, you know, is the money gonna
buy him out of this?"
Micheleís family and friends werenít the only ones who
suspected Cal Harris killed his wife. So did the police,
but there simply wasnít much of a case. Without a body
or a murder weapon, there is no cause of death. In fact,
there's no proof Michelle is dead at all. What the
police did have were tiny drops of blood in the kitchen
and the garage. And there was Cal Harris himself -- what
he did after his wife disappeared and what he didn't do.
"He never made a phone call that morning to find out
where she was," says Capt. Lester.
Lester wondered why Cal didn't try to track his wife
down. "If the mother of your children who takes care of
them every morning suddenly doesnít show up, I think
your first reaction is gonna be to pick up the phone and
make a call and say 'Hey, where the hell are ya?'" the
state police captain says,
Nikki says Cal's demeanor was completely out of
character. "That is not in his personality to be calm,
cool and collected about anything," she says.
"Cal is a very explosive person. He has a temper," Barb
But that morning, Barb says Cal was unusually calm about
Michele's disappearance, and after looking through
Micheleís van made a strange request: "He said 'Oh my
gosh this car is a mess.' He said 'I want you to drop it
off at the dealership and I'm gonna clean it from top to
bottom,'" she tells Moriarty.
And just days later, according to Barb, Cal began
packing away all of his wifeís belongings and told Barb
to sell them in a garage sale.
And thereís the strange story Michele told her
sister-in-law and brother.
Shannon says a few months before she disappeared,
Michele, in a kind of "laughing way," said that Cal had
threatened her. "Hahaha, I got the perfect place to put
your body, theyíll never find you," Shannon recalls.
But Cal's friends Kevin O'Hara and his wife Tracy see
Cal's behavior in a different light. "Itís interesting
that people who havenít gone through a certain situation
are very quick to say that someone else should have
reacted or acted in a certain fashion. To me, the way he
acted was Cal," Kevin says.
(CBS) The local state police, now back to full strength
and convinced Cal had buried Michele's body, focused the
search in and around the Harris property. They used
helicopters in the air, dogs on the ground, and at one
point, investigators even secretly placed a GPS device
on Cal's car, hoping he'd lead them to Michelleís body.
He didnít. But as they were searching abandoned wells,
there was suddenly a discovery.
Capt. Lester says a black plastic bag of bones was
found. But they turned out to be animal bones.
The search went on for a year, then two. After four
years and no sign of Michele, investigators felt it was
now or never. "The case wasnít getting any better,"
Lester explains. "There were really no new significant
leads or evidence coming in. But win, lose or draw, this
case had to go to trial."
On Sept. 30, 2005, Cal was arrested and charged with
Michele's murder. But how much of a case is there?
Defense attorney Joe Cawley is confident Cal will never
"Because you can't find a murder weapon. You can't just
say, 'Well, he must have disposed of it,'" Cawley says.
"And because you can't find sufficient quantities of
blood, he must have cleaned it up. He must have just
done a really good job. And we can't find the body.
Well, he must have done a good job of that, too. A lack
of evidence is reasonable doubt."
Nothing has quite shaken the calm of Owego, N.Y., like
the murder trial of Calvin Harris. It took nearly six
years, but Cal's trial finally began on May 21, 2007.
Harris, out on a half a million dollar bail, came to
court from the house where authorities believe he
murdered his wife almost six years earlier.
"Have you ever had a case where there was no body and
youíve prosecuted someone for murder? No body? No
witness. No murder weapon. Nothing?" Moriarty asks
District Attorney Gerald Keene.
"No. This was the most difficult case that I've ever
done," Keene says.
Defense attorney Bill Easton says Cal is on trial
because of who he is, not because of anything he did.
"In most cases we have admissions, or we have eye
witnesses. Thatís not this case. This case is 'Sheís
missing. He was divorcing from her. His behavior was
odd, thereís very small amounts of blood that might
suggest something.' And thatís it," he says.
That blood is the main focus at the trial -- the small
amounts police found inside the Harris home two days
after Michele disappeared. Six drops of her blood on the
doorway between the kitchen and the garage, more drops
on a kitchen throw rug and on the garage floor.
"These are sub-millimeter spots," says defense attorney
Joe Cawley. "It's such a small amount you know, itís
just not indicative of criminal conduct."
But D.A. Gerald Keene says, "It wasn't really the amount
of blood that was incriminating here. It was the size of
the blood specks and the manner in which the blood was
With so much riding on the blood evidence in the case,
the prosecution recruited world renowned criminologist
Henry Lee, who testified on videotape.
Lee, best known for the work in the O.J. Simpson trial
more than a decade ago, says the small amounts of blood
in the Harris home tell the story of what happened to
The pattern of blood spots in the doorway, says Lee, was
caused when Michele was hit, twice. The first punch
knocked her down. The second hit caused her blood to
Using red dye to demonstrate, senior forensic
investigator Steve Andersen showed Moriarty how spatter
similar to what was found in the Harris home is created.
Andersen says the spatter was approximately a millimeter
in size and some smaller than that.
Asked if this was enough to tell him that that was a
crime scene, Andersen tells Moriarty, "The very
potential of a crime scene was there. Yes."
Andersen, who also testified at trial, believes Michele
was hit with medium velocity by some kind of blunt
instrument, like a hammer or even a fist. "To get that
size you have to apply a force to break that up into
smaller droplets and propel it through the air," he
"Isnít it normal in a familyís home to find blood? I
mean, people bleed. Thereís kids," Moriarty points out.
"Yes. But normally, not medium velocity impact spatter,"
"It was blood spatter, so that it wouldnít come from a
bloody nose dripping or a cut finger," D.A. Keene says.
(CBS) Henry Lee testified that the tiny drops of blood
found on the kitchen rug, more than 40 of them, are more
evidence of an assault. And he testified they are more
consistent with spatter than dripped blood.
Lee also told the jury that the blood, that looked
bright red in photographs, had to be fresh. But Cal's
defense attorney Bill Easton disputes that. "Dr. Henry
Lee never examined that blood. He bases his opinion
solely on his examination of photographs," Easton points
Asked what's wrong with that, Easton says, "There was no
evidence that they accurately depicted the exact shade
The defense says the blood could have been there for
years, and that it's scientifically impossible to
determine the age of blood. "So Dr. Lee saying itís
within a few days we think is simply incredible. That
may be his opinion, based on hunches, based on his
experience. It's not based on science," Easton says.
And beyond the blood, say defense attorneys, there is no
other physical evidence to tie their client to Micheleís
disappearance or death. There's no body and no murder
"The lack of physical evidence canít become evidence.
'We canít find the body, so gee, he must have been
really good at hiding the body.' They didnít find it
because itís not there," Cawley says.
"Isnít it possible that Cal, if in fact he killed his
wife, just had a very secure place to put her body? He
knows that property better than anyone does," Moriarty
"I just think thatís the power of magical thinking --
thereís a special place that he could put it where no
one could find it," says Easton.
If he did hide her body, how did he do it? None of
Micheleís blood was found in any of Cal's vehicles, nor
was blood found in the kitchen sink traps.
"How did he clean up? Where is the blood? Where is the
body? How did he do it?" wonders Bill Easton.
The answer, say Cal's attorneys, is simple: they say
police are looking at the wrong man. "I think law
enforcement went to Herculean extent to try to prove Cal
guilty. And their focus was entirely on Cal almost to
the exclusion of everyone else," Cawley says.
But D.A. Gerald Keene thinks that's "baloney."
But just how thoroughly did police investigate Brian
Earley, Micheleís young boyfriend, who was the last
known person to see her alive?
Keene says police never searched Earley's car or
apartment to see if Michele's blood was present.
Police also didnít search the apartment of Michael
Kasper, the co-worker with whom Michele had a secret
affair, or Michael Hakes', the man with a criminal
history for rape, who worked with Michele the night she
Sue Mulvey of the state police says Hakes' body was not
searched to see if there were any injuries.
"We couldn't find where Michele ever had a problem with
him, where she ever evinced any fear of him, where he
had ever done anything out of line, or untoward to her
or any other member of the community," Mulvey says.
Police say all three men fully cooperated and were
eliminated as suspects after they took and passed
polygraphs, something Cal refused to do.
"He had cooperated with them. He had given them numerous
statements, allowed them to search his house," Easton
says. "Once you assert your right to counsel, not
participating in a polygraph test, I donít think, is
evidence of any guilt at all."
Cal also chose not to testify at trial. On June 6, 2007,
after two weeks of testimony, the case went to the jury.
Will the holes in the case against Cal add up to
reasonable doubt? His attorneys are counting on it.
With the case in the hands of the jury, Cal's friends
Tracy and Kevin O'Hara were feeling confident. "It seems
like Cal would have to be Houdini to
fulfill this crime the way the prosecution said he did,"
But what do the jurors believe? It took them less than
four hours -- spread over two days -- to reach a
verdict: guilty of second degree murder.
"When the verdict was read, you could feel the courtroom
on the left of us, all of the Harris family just
dropping. It was like dominos," remembers Michele's
friend Cindy Turner. "And crying from Cal."
"I think I had to wait a minute to digest it. This is
the man that killed my daughter with his bare hands,"
says Michele's father Gary. "He deserves everything he
No one was more shocked than Cal's attorneys Bill Easton
and Joe Cawley
Asked why he thinks the jury convicted Cal, Cawley tells
Moriarty, "I don't know. I donít. I wish I had a good
answer for that."
(CBS) Six of the jurors were willing to explain the
"To me the evidence was overwhelming, in the long run,"
a male juror told Moriarty. "There was just so many
little pieces that just come together to make the whole
They say that Cal's own actions gave him away. "Why
wouldnít you join in the search? Why wouldnít you stay
home from work that day? Why wouldnít you be questioning
those police saying, 'Hey, you know, letís look here.
Letís try this, letís do that,'" a female juror
remarked. "He never did any of that."
More proof, they say, was Cal's comment to his
girlfriend, just 18 days after Michele vanished. "When
she said, 'Oh, she was a little nervous about spending
the night 'cause she was afraid Michele was gonna be
coming home,' she said. And he just looked at her and
said, 'Oh, she wonít be coming home.' How do you know
that? I mean, how do you know that unless you know
that?" a female juror wondered.
And that little bit of blood played a big part. "If they
wouldnít have found any blood, he would have gotten away
with it, I think," a male juror remarked.
And if Michele was killed in her own home, the jurors
said that eliminated the other possible suspects,
leaving only one person: Cal Harris.
"We followed the lines of evidence and beyond a
reasonable doubt, we believe he did it," a female juror
Two months later, there were suddenly new questions
about the verdict. Did the jurors hear all the evidence?
Just days before Cal was about to be sentenced for his
wife's murder, a new witness came forward, putting the
conviction of Cal Harris in jeopardy.
"To have somebody pop out of the woodwork after a
verdict is announced - it was a little bit shocking,"
Mark Lester remarks.
A 33-year-old farmer, Kevin Tubbs, says he was hauling
hay around dawn on Sept. 12, and drove past the Harris
"He sees a man and a woman, a pickup truck, and another
vehicle at the end of the driveway. He claims it looked
like they were having an argument," Lester says.
The woman, he says, looked like Michele. As for the man,
"Dark complexion, white male. Early 20ís. And he said it
definitely was not Cal Harris," Lester says of Tubbs'
If Tubbs saw Michele when he says he did, then Cal
wouldn't have had the time to kill her.
"Is it possible that he's right?" Moriarty asks state
police Capt. Mark Lester.
"I donít think so," he replies.
Lester says it was too dark at 5:40 a.m. for Tubbs to
have seen Michele clearly.
"He had to have been mistaken as to what he saw," Lester
"Or? Or he lied," Moriarty remarks.
"Well, thatís the other possibility," Lester says.
But what matters is what Judge Martin Smith thinks. In
November 2007, friends and family members are called
back to court. In a shocking decision, Judge Smith
throws out Cal Harris' conviction for the murder of his
wife, and orders a new trial.
"He was overwhelmed. He's been in jail for five months
and to hear a judge release him was just overwhelming,"
Cal's attorney Bill Easton commented after the decision.
But if Cal Harris is relieved, Michele's family is
devastated. The prosecutor says he'll fight to keep the
conviction, but now, out on a half-million dollar bail,
Cal Harris is once again a free man.
"I was looking forward to having the case behind me
also, but itís not about me. Itís about Michele Harris.
So Iíll do whatever I have to do to make sure that we
get justice for her," D.A. Gerald Keene vows.
The state wants the conviction to stand, and is
appealing the judge's decision to grant Cal Harris a new
Harris's attorney Joe Cawley is now a Broome County
Michele Harris has been missing for 2,478 days.