‘I’ve been having murder on my brain’: Dad allegedly strangled wife to death, left body for daughter to find after school

Matthew Harrison (Lancaster County DA’s Office) and the hotel where he was arrested following a standoff with police (WBRE screenshot)

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A 48-year-old man in Pennsylvania is accused of killing his wife, allegedly sexually assaulting the 49-year-old woman in their home before strangling her to death and confessing to the crime in a series of text messages to family and co-workers. Matthew Harrison was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with one count each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and strangulation, as well as two counts of aggravated indecent assault in the slaying of Jami Harrison, authorities announced.

According to a news release from the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, officers with the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department at about 4:14 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 5 responded to a call regarding a deceased woman at a residence in the 2200 block of E. Mount Hope Road in Hanheim.

The caller who reported finding the body was Matthew and Jami Harrison’s 11-year-old daughter. The daughter told the emergency dispatcher that her dad was “really mean and hurts” her mother, police said.

Upon arriving at the scene, first responders found Jami Harrison lying in her bed and pronounced her dead on the scene. Authorities noted that she had “red marks on her neck and possible bruising on her forehead.”

A subsequent autopsy conducted by the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office ruled the manner of death homicide with the cause being asphyxia due to strangulation. The autopsy also showed signs of sexual assault on the victim’s body.

Investigators soon learned that Matthew Harrison had been staying at a hotel in the area, but had checked out at about 1:40 p.m. on Feb. 5, just hours before his wife’s body was discovered.

Police conducted a forensic search of Matthew Harrison’s phone on Feb. 7, which showed that he sent his wife more than 100 text messages from Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 in which he insulted and harassed her. In at least one message from Feb. 5, Matthew Harrison allegedly stated that he needed to come back to the house and “grab things from home.”

According to a report from Lancaster NBC affiliate WGAL, some of the harassing messages from Matthew Harrison to his wife read:

“Your not getting away with this,” “If I’m going down your coming with me,” “How’s that for your marriage,” and “It’s till death do us apart.”

Other troubling messages from Matthew Harrison’s phone included on Feb. 7, when he sent a co-worker texts stating, “Dude I’m in a world of s—,” “I won’t be back,” and “the demon in me broke free.”

Additionally, on Feb. 3, Matthew Harrison allegedly messaged his son about killing Jami Harrison.

“Matthew Harrison messages, ‘If I kill her by now I’m cool son.’ (The son) replies, ‘Come on now ol head lol’ and Matthew responds, ‘S— you think kidding,’” police wrote in a probable cause affidavit obtained by WGAL. “After being told to ‘be cool,’ Matthew Harrison replies, ‘Ever since what happened to you…I’ve been having murder on my brain.’”

Authorities on Feb. 8 located Matthew Harrison at a hotel in Pittston, Pennsylvania, which is about 100 miles northeast of the house where Jami Harrison’s body was discovered. He was taken into custody following a brief standoff with police, prosecutors said

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