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Birth name: Jean Struven
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Headmistress of an exclusive girls' school
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 10, 1980
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: April 27, 1923
Victim profile: Her ex-lover Dr. Herman Tarnower, 69 (the well-known cardiologist and author of the best-selling book The Scarsdale Diet)
Method of murder: Shooting (.32 revolver)
Location: Scarsdale, Westchester County, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 15 years to life on February 24, 1981. Governor Mario Cuomo commuted the remainder of her sentence on December 29, 1992. Released on January 23, 1993
photo gallery 1 photo gallery 2

The Scarsdale Shooting

Who'd have thought it? Jean Harris, headmistress of an exclusive girls' school, is found guilty of shooting her lover, the author of the best-selling Scarsdale Diet.


Jean S. Harris was born Jean Struven in 1923 in Cleveland, USA. Her mother Mildred was a Christian Scientist and her father Albert a civil engineer. Albert was an intelligent but humorless man who was known for his terrible temper. He was hospitalised for a manic-depressive disorder at least once and received electro-shock treatment.

Harris got good grades at school and went on to attend the prestigious Smith College majoring in economics. Soon after graduation she married a handsome Navy veteran, Jim Harris, and they settled in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Their first son David was born in 1950 and Jimmie quickly followed in 1952. Realising she had a gift with children Harris set up a kindergarten from home.

A Brooklyn Jew, Tarnower set himself up as a cardiologist in the Scarsdale and White Plains areas of New York. During World War II he joined the US Military Corps and was promoted to major. When the war was over he founded the Scarsdale Medical Center and was highly regarded amongst his colleagues and patients. He was a relentless social climber who held elaborate dinner parties and cultivated a circle of wealthy friends and patients.

Tarnower was also a renowned playboy, but seemed smitten with Harris and to everyone’s surprise, especially hers, he proposed in 1967. Harris refused claiming that she was concerned at having to move her two sons from their schools, but by the time the boys had finished their school year Tarnower had changed his mind. He also told her that she should see other men because he wouldn’t be able to commit to her.

Harris didn’t take his advice and the couple carried on seeing each other for 14 years and during that time Tarnower continued dating other women. Harris became particularly jealous of Lynne Tryforos, a young and attractive secretary/medical assistant of Tarnowers who, many of the doctor’s friends believed, was a good influence on him and put him at ease.

The women embarked on a competition for the doctor’s affections. Harris received mysterious and obscene phone calls and she suspected they were from Tryforos. One night at Tarnower’s she found her favorite dress smeared with excrement. She returned the gesture by telephoning Tryforos every night for a month.

Harris became the Director of the Middle School at Springside, a female academy in a posh Philadelphia suburb and in 1977, she became head of the extremely prestigious Madeira School for Girls in Washington D.C. When Harris took the role the school was suffering a decline and during the next two years she failed to improve the school’s academic reputation. When a performance report came out in May 1979 it recommended her dismissal.

Fearing the safety of her job Harris’ depression grew deeper. Tarnower was already prescribing her Desoxy, a methamphetamine better known as speed, for her persistent depressive bouts and it was at this time that she bought a .32 revolver.

Friends from the publishing world suggested to Tarnower that he write a book documenting the diet he recommended to his patients. The basic nutritional philosophy of cutting down on carbohydrates, eating plenty of oily fish, lean meat, fruit and vegetables and have a low intake of fats, salt and sweets was quite revolutionary at the time and when Tarnower wrote The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet it became an immediate bestseller.

The Crimes

On Friday 7th March 1980, the Dean of Students at Madeira found marijuana stems and seeds in the rooms of four of the school’s most outstanding students. Harris expelled all four teenagers and angry parents descended upon the school while the students started a demonstration in protest.

Harris received a letter from one of her favourite students condemning her for expelling the four marijuana smoking pupils. In her fragile emotional state this criticism was the final straw and she decided to kill herself.

She wrote a letter to Tarnower chronicling the many wrongs she felt he had dealt her and begged him to treat her differently. She also pointed out that Tryforos would persistently ruin her clothes and that some of her jewellery had gone missing. She confessed to making harassing phone calls to Tryforos and destroying anything her younger rival had touched that belonged to Tarnower.

On Saturday 8th she wrote a will, but over the weekend she had second thoughts about the letter and decided she didn’t want Tarnower to read it. She called him on Monday 10th and asked him to throw it away as soon as it arrived. After much pleading Tarnower eventually agreed to see her.

In Harris’s version of events she made the five-hour drive to his home planning to spend her final moments with him before putting a bullet through her head at one of her favourite places – a tiny island in the middle of a pond in his grounds.

When she arrived Tarnower ignored her and she became angry when she saw Tryforos’s negligee and slippers and a box of pink curlers in his bathroom. She flew into a rage, throwing the garments around and Tarnower slapped her hard in the mouth.

She slumped down defeated, took out the gun and pointed it at her head. A struggle between the two ensued and Harris ended up shooting Tarnower five times. Turning the gun on herself proved fruitless because it was empty.

The Trial

The trial at the Westchester County Court in New York lasted three months and became a national melodrama. Harris pleaded temporary insanity and accidental death insisting that she had only wanted to kill herself.

The question of intent was the main issue. Defence and prosecution lawyers produced witnesses who argued fiercely over forensics, where Tarnower was when he was shot and the trajectory of the bullets. George Bolen, the prosecution lawyer, argued that Harris descended upon Tarnower in his sleep and shot him. He awoke and put his hand up in a futile attempt to ward off a bullet and then Harris pumped the gun twice more and ran into the bathroom where she threw Tryforos’ things around.

Harris’ defence lawyer, Joel Aurnou, was heavily criticised for not sufficiently preparing his client for the trial. The jury wasn’t offered the option of first-degree manslaughter – the mercy option – and the mental health professionals who tested and treated Harris weren’t called to testify.

But the most damning piece of evidence against Harris was the 10-page letter she had written to Tarnower. In it she repeatedly called Tryforos vulgar names and it included passages that showed her complete lack of self-worth. Bolen read the letter to the jury who were shocked by its contents and after deliberating for eight days found Harris guilty of second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 15 years to life at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York.

The Aftermath

In prison Harris wrote an autobiography and two other books. She spent much of her time working in the prison’s children’s center and during her term she suffered two heart attacks. After serving 12 years of her sentence in 1992 Governor Mario Cuomo granted her clemency on grounds of ill health.

Rachel Scott
The Crime & Investigation Network


Jean Harris (b. Jean Struven in Cleveland on April 27, 1923) was the headmistress of The Madeira School for girls in McLean, Virginia who made national news in 1980 as the defendant in a high-profile murder case of her ex-lover Dr. Herman Tarnower, the well-known cardiologist and author of the best-selling book The Scarsdale Diet.

Jean Harris attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she graduated magna cum laude in May 1945 as an economics major. She subsequently married and had two sons.

Life with Tarnower

Harris met Tarnower about two years after her divorce in 1965 and started a relationship. He showered her with gifts and took her on exotic vacations during their 14-year relationship. Tarnower was a lifelong bachelor and had several affairs in addition to his trysts with Jean Harris. Tarnower was a very respected cardiologist who was as much a ladies' man as he was a doctor.

He hired a younger woman named Lynne Tryforos to work as a secretary-receptionist at the Scarsdale Medical Center. Within a short period, Tryforos and Tarnower began an affair lasting several years. It became clear that Jean Harris was in the process of being displaced by the younger woman; the two women were 20 years apart in age.

Harris had been prescribed multiple medications by Tarnower over the years as she attempted to cope with her demanding role as headmistress of the Madeira School, as well as Tarnower's ongoing relationship with his secretary.

Events of March 10, 1980

The mounting tensions of the Harris/Tarnower affair came to a boiling point on March 10, 1980, when Jean drove from the Madeira School in McLean, Virginia to Tarnower's home in Purchase, New York, with an unused handgun in her possession, with which she said she had planned to commit suicide after talking in person with Tarnower one last time. When she arrived at the house, however, she noticed Lynne Tryforos' lingerie in the bedroom.

An argument ensued, and Herman Tarnower allegedly said to her, "Jesus, Jean, you're crazy! Get out of here!" Harris shot Tarnower four times at close range, wounding him mortally. She was arrested and booked for second-degree murder. She pled not guilty, insisting that the shooting was an accident and that the gun had gone off accidentally while he tried to wrestle it away from her.

Legal defense and trial

Harris was released on $40,000 bail raised by her brother and sisters and signed into the United Hospital of Port Chester for psychiatric evaluation and therapy. She then contracted the services of attorney Joel Aurnou to plan her defense.

The case went to trial on November 21, 1980 and lasted 14 weeks, becoming one of the longest in state history. The New York press sensationalized the trial and made Harris a household name from coast to coast. The jury was ultimately unable to believe her testimony and convicted her of second degree murder.

With the guilty verdict, Harris was not legally eligible to inherit $220,000 Tarnower had left her in his will.

Harris has consistently maintained that she did not intentionally kill Tarnower. Joel Aurnou would later state that he encouraged his client to plead guilty to a lesser charge, but she refused. Judge Russell R. Leggett ordered her confined to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, New York, for the minimum of 15 years to life. Numerous appeals followed the conviction, but the higher courts determined that she had received a fair trial.

Because the defense had hoped for a complete acquittal, the jury was not offered the option of finding Harris guilty of first-degree manslaughter — the mercy option — and the mental health professionals who tested and treated Harris were not called to testify.

While serving her sentence, Harris made it her mission to improve the education of female inmates in her facility. She began programs in which women could work toward obtaining their GEDs or college degrees while imprisoned. She also taught a parenting class to inmates and developed the in-prison nursery for babies born to inmates.

Eleven years after Harris's conviction, Governor Mario Cuomo commuted the remainder of her sentence on December 29, 1992, as she was being prepped for quadruple bypass heart surgery. She was released from prison by the parole board and initially planned to live in a cabin in New Hampshire, but later moved to the Whitney Center, a retirement home in Hamden, Connecticut, where she currently resides.

After her release, Harris visited Tarnower's grave at Mount Hope Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson on multiple occasions.

Literary and cinematic treatments

Harris' story was told by Diana Trilling in Mrs Harris and by the journalist Shana Alexander in Very Much a Lady: The Untold Story of Jean Harris and Dr. Herman Tarnower.

Harris' murder trial was depicted in the 1981 made-for-television movie, The People vs. Jean Harris. She was portrayed by Ellen Burstyn, who was nominated for an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for the performance. Burstyn would later be nominated for another Emmy Award for a cameo in Mrs. Harris as one of Tarnower's former lovers.

In 2006, a made-for-TV movie depicting Jean Harris's story called Mrs. Harris starred Annette Bening, with Ben Kingsley opposite her as Herman Tarnower. Both Bening and Kingsley received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for the film.

The 'Scarsdale diet doctor murder' is referred to on the sitcom Seinfeld as the basis for the fictional musical 'Scarsdale Surprise'.

Further reading

  • Trilling, Diana . Mrs Harris. New York: Viking, December 1982. ISBN 0-14-006363-3

  • Alexander, Shana. Very Much a Lady: The Untold Story of Jean Harris and Dr. Herman Tarnower. New York: Little Brown & Co, 1983. ISBN 0-316-03125-9

  • Harris, Jean. Stranger in Two Worlds. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1986.


The Jean Harris Case

By Denise Noe

The Disovery of Bongs

Jean Harris was the headmistress of the Madeira Girls School, an exclusive all-female boarding high school. She had recently been informed that pot parties were going on in South Dorm and the student housemother was believed involved. Harris sent her dean of students to check things out.

As she waited for the woman to report back, Harris took care of a bit of personal business. Pale and slim, with dark blonde hair that had just a slight wave at the ends, Jean Harris was a woman in her late fifties who looked her age and was still quite attractive. She telephoned Herman Tarnower, her boyfriend of many years who was also her doctor. The sixty-nine-year-old bespectacled Tarnower was a lifelong bachelor with a reputation as a Casanova despite his balding head, beak nose, and generally unprepossessing appearance. When he answered the phone, Jean informed him that she was out of the medicine he had long prescribed to lift her chronic depression. Tarnower promised to send more of the medication, then asked her about some books of his that were missing. Harris interpreted the inquiry as an accusation of stealing but she bottled up a response while he told her that she would not be sitting beside him at an upcoming banquet in his honor. Rather, she would be at a table with some of his friends. The woman who was the major rival for his affections, Lynne Tryforos, would sit at another table with another group of friends. Harris hung up the phone feeling both badly disappointed and rejected.

She soon picked the phone up again. The Dean of Students had discovered "bongs," items to enhance the pleasure of smoking marijuana, along with seeds and stems of the outlawed weed.� The rooms in which the damning items were found were those of four of the schools most outstanding students.

It was Friday, March 7, 1980. Spring Break began next week. An emergency meeting of faculty, Student Council members, and the suspected girls was held. The four girls said that they had not smoked marijuana on campus. Rather, they only kept the legal paraphernalia there while enjoying the illegal activity at the home of one of their grandmothers.

Harris had earned the nickname "Integrity Jean" due to her strong concern for morality. She found the explanations given by these girls brazen and hypocritical. The meeting was extremely tense with faculty confronting students and students confronting other students, some saying, "Everybody does it," and others asking, "If youre not expelled for this, what do you have to do to get thrown out of this place?"

When a vote was taken, it was unanimous: all four teenagers were expelled.

The Madeira Four

Out of her accustomed medication and beset by both boyfriend and job troubles, Jean Harris was unable to sleep that night. The next day distraught parents confronted the exhausted head of Madeira. Mothers and fathers who were paying $30,000 a year for a high school kids education now saw it all going down the drain and their comments to Harris were often vituperative. One mother angrily told the headmistress that, "If I had known you ran this school with your own Gestapo, I would never have sent my daughter here!"

That Friday also saw a students rally in support of the Madeira Four. "We love you, Keri! Kelly! Kathy! Nina!" the girls shouted. One of the demonstrations leaders spotted a couple of teachers and screamed, "You fucking hypocrites!" Harris demanded that the girl who yelled that insult be brought to the house of the headmistress on campus where she furiously dressed the youngster down. "How dare you speak that way to people who work for slave wages, breaking their backs to give you ingrates a decent education?" Harris asked rhetorically.

The young lady was apparently quite upset by Harriss impassioned lecture. As she left the room, the Academic Dean who accompanied her whispered, "Its the word hypocrite she cant stand. If youd called them fucking assholes, she wouldnt have minded so much."

Indeed, Jean Harris mental state was fast unraveling. She was insomniac, panicked, depressed, and confused. As she was to testify later, "I remember very distinctly Saturday morning going in and out of my bedroom several times. I wanted to clean it up, but I didnt know how. I couldnt decide where anything goes. I didnt know which pile of paper went where. Just hanging up a dress seemed to involve more decisions than I could cope with."

The Scarsdale Letter

In between meetings with angry teenagers and their parents, Jean Harris sat down to write a letter to Herman Tarnower. In it, she would chronicle the many wrongs she felt she had suffered on his behalf and plead for better treatment by the doctor. This letter was notable for its rage and pain as well as its extreme hatred for Lynne Tryforos, the forty-something blonde secretary/receptionist whom Harris believed was replacing her in Tarnowers affections. In it, Harris derided Tryforos as a "vicious, adulterous psychotic." Discussing the banquet to be held in Tarnowers honor, Harris vowed that she would be there "even if that slut comes indeed I dont care if she pops naked out of a cake with her tits frosted with chocolate." She repeatedly called Lynne a "slut" and a "whore."

In the letter, Harris also claimed that she has suffered some grotesque wrongs at the hands of the other woman. The headmistress wrote that Tryforos "took a brand new nightgown that I paid $40.00 for and covered it with bright orange stains." She also asserted that she found one of her dresses "smeared and vile with feces."

Harris told her lover that she, Harris, had found her clothes that she had left in a closet of the Tarnower residence destroyed. Later, "I called your slut to talk to her about it and see what she was going to do about it she said You cut them up yourself and blamed it on me.

"That was the first time it occurred to me they had been cut not ripped. Only someone with a thoroughly warped mind would decide that a woman with no money would ruin about one-third of her wardrobe for kicks."

Harris further claimed that some of her expensive jewelry had been stolen. She assumed that Tryforos was the thief and said, "I only hope if she hocked them you got something nice as a gift maybe I gave you some gold cuff links after all and didnt know it."

In this letter deriding Tryforos as "dishonest, ignorant and tasteless," Harris admits to certain behaviors of her own that could easily be called "tasteless" and even criminal. For example, "twice I have taken money from your wallet," the first time to pay for the stained nightgown and the second time to reimburse herself for the smeared dress. She also "ripped up or destroyed anything I saw that your slut had touched and written her cutesie name on including several books that I gave you and she had tasteless, unmitigated gall to write in." After Tryforos falsely [according to Harris] accused Harris of making harassing phone calls, Harris did just that: "The next month I called her virtually every single night only because of your rotten accusation while she sat simperingly by letting you make it."

Jean Harris sent this bizarre and disturbing missive to Herman Tarnower by registered mail because, she said, other of her mail often failed to reach him. Soon after, she decided she did not want him to read it after all and called him Monday, March 10, 1980 to ask him to discard it as soon as it arrived.

Deciding on Suicide

On Saturday, in between writing her letter and talking with distressed and angry students, Jean Harris started composing a will. For quite some time, she had been considering suicide and had purchased a gun for that grim purpose.

However, she did not make a final decision to cash in her chips on life until the morning of March 10 when she read a letter from a student she had previously aided. The young lady wrote, in a mild and friendly manner, of her disagreement with the decision to expel the four pot-smoking girls. The girl told Jean, "this isnt a hate letter at all. I just feel that you are not handling the situation correctly. . . . " She went on to argue that since so many Madeira students smoked grass, it was "hypocritical" to so harshly punish four of them.

The letter devastated the headmistress. "It sort of put a box on my life," she recalled. In her fragile emotional state, this gentle criticism from a student she very much liked was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.

Jean Harris decided to kill herself.

Before she died, she wanted to touch bases with the man who had been the love of her life. She phoned him, begging to see him that night. He put her off, telling her it would be more convenient if they chatted on the morrow.

She pleaded some more and he finally said, "Suit yourself." Calmly, even serenely for, believing herself to have no future, she also thought of herself as having no worries, she made the five hour drive to the home of Herman Tarnower. She planned to enjoy a few final moments with her longtime boyfriend, then, without letting him know of her intentions, she would go to the pond that was on his estate. The pond had a tiny island in the middle of it upon which sat a statue of Buddha that Tarnower had brought home from a trip to China. She was fond of the little lake and the area surrounding it because of its natural beauty and suggestion of tranquility. At that lovely pond, she decided that she would put a bullet through her head.

It was after 10:00PM when she arrived at her lovers home and let herself in through the garage. She carried a pocketbook with the loaded gun in it and a bouquet of flowers as she climbed up the stairs. She found Herman clad in blue pajamas and curled up in bed.

What happened next depends on whether you believe Jean Harriss version of that night or that of the prosecution.

In Harriss version of the event, she greeted him and he snapped, "Jesus, Jean, its the middle of the night!"

She told him she did not plan to stay long. "I just came to talk with you for awhile," she said.

"Well, Im not going to talk with anybody in the middle of the night!" he grumbled and resolutely shut his eyes.

"I brought you some flowers," Harris whispered hopefully.

Tarnower ignored her.

"Wont you talk to me for just a little while?" she pleaded. She did not want to die before hearing some warm and reassuring words from him.

He continued to ignore her.

Again she broke the silence. "I left a shawl here," she said. She left both pocketbook and flowers with Herman and went to a dressing area where she retrieved the item. Then she headed for a bathroom. As she flipped on the light, a sudden fury overtook her. She saw a negligee and slippers that she didnt recognize and a box of pink curlers that was all-too-familiar. These were Lynne Tryfoross things.

Harris screamed as she picked up the negligee and ran back to the bedroom where she tossed it on the carpet. Then she was back in the bathroom and hurling the box of curlers through the open door. There was a loud crash as the box broke the dressing room window.

She was still yelling when Tarnower, now out of the bed and wide awake, slapped her mouth, very hard. Jean fled back to the bathroom where she picked up a jewelry box and flung it at her own aging image, breaking a mirror. Once again the doctor hit her, hard, on the mouth.

As suddenly as it had begun, Jean Harriss fury was spent and the resigned spirit of suicide had taken its place. She sank down in front of Herman Tarnower and said, "Hit me again, Hi. Make it hard enough to kill me."

"Get out of here," he replied. "Youre crazy."

When she realized Tarnower would not hit her "hard enough to kill" her, Jean said, "OK, Ill do it myself." She pulled the gun out of her own pocketbook and put it against her temple. He struck her hand and the gun fired, hitting him through his hand.

"Jesus Christ, look what youve done!" he screamed as blood streamed down his arm. The wounded doctor rushed to the bathroom and the suicidal headmistress got on her hands and knees to search the floor for the weapon. She could not find it and was seized by panic. Finally she located the gun under one of the beds and fished it out. As she was about to raise it to her head again, a sudden terrible pain in her upper arm caused her to let it fall. That pain was caused by the powerful grip of Herman Tarnower.

Tarnower then sat on the edge of a bed, his injured right hand wrapped in a towel that was rapidly turning dark red with his blood. He held the gun with one hand and with the other pushed a buzzer to call the live-in cook/housekeeper and butler/gardener who had served him faithfully for many years, Suzanne and Henri Van der Vreken.

Jean Harris was frantic now. "Hi, please give me the gun!" she shrieked. "Give me the gun, or shoot me yourself, but for Christs sake let me die!"

Again her lover called her "crazy" and told her to get out.

At this point, Jean Harris says she has amnesia. There is a space of time that she cannot recall but believes that she grabbed the gun and engaged in a fierce tug-of-war over it with the injured Herman Tarnower. Her memory comes back at a moment when the two of them were squeezing together, struggling over the weapon, and Harris felt something very hard and solid sticking into her stomach. Thinking it was the gun she pulled the trigger and there was a loud bang and Harris thought, that didnt hurt at all!

For good reason, for she had just shot the doctor for the fourth time.

While her injured boyfriend knelt on the floor of his bedroom, moaning in agony, Harris again attempted to take her own life. She put the gun to her head, pulled the trigger and heard the harmless click of an empty chamber. She made a frantic effort to pull out spent cartridges so she could reload. She ran to the bathroom, banging the gun on the side of the tub in the hope of dislodging the spent cartridges. She was not able to do that and ended up breaking part of the gun. Finally, she turned her attention to the man who had gotten the bullets, then screamed, "Somebody turn on the goddamn lights! Im going for help!"

The prosecution had a different view of Herman Tarnowers untimely demise, theorizing that Jean Harris descended upon the sleeping man who put up his hand in a futile, irrational effort to ward off a bullet. She pumped the gun twice more, then ran into the bathroom where she threw Lynne Tryforos things around.

Regardless of which scenario actually occurred, Herman Tarnower sustained four bullet entry wounds (although only three bullets actually lodged in his body). He died that night. Jean Harris, the headmistress of the exclusive Madeira School who had been nicknamed Integrity Jean for her exacting moral standards, was arrested for murder.

Calls were placed to Dr. Tarnowers many prominent friends and patients, telling them the sad news. The wealthy Peg Cullman, whose husband had long been a patient and buddy of Tarnower, was vacationing in sunny Barbados when she got an early phone call relating, "I didnt want you to hear it on the radio, but His been shot and theyre holding Jean Harris."

"Oh, my God," she gasped. "Its finally happened."

The sense of inevitability in that last sentence is strangely appropriate for the roots of the tragedy ran deep into the backgrounds of these two seemingly successful yet deeply flawed individuals.

A Girl Called "Stuvie"

Jean was born in 1923 to Albert and Mildred Struven, an affluent couple living in a Cleveland suburb. She was the second of the four children they would have, three girls and one boy, the very youngest.

At six feet two inches tall, Albert Struven towered over his four-foot-eleven wife. The successful civil engineer towered over her in personality as well, being an old-fashioned and dominant man. He was known as very intelligent but humorless and hard to please, although both his wife and daughters tried valiantly to do so. He had a terrible temper, was given to furies of yelling, and was once hospitalized for manic-depressive disorder.

Since Dad worked long hours in his role as family provider, Mom did most of the actual raising of the children. Mildred Struven was a Christian Scientist. When the children were sick, they were prayed for, read to, and lovingly reassured rather than medicated. Mildred did take her son, little Bobby, to the hospital on one occasion because it looked like his chicken pox simply would not heal. It was lucky that she did for if she had not, the doctors believed the illness would have killed the youngster.

Religion appears to have been something that split the family for while the mother was a Christian Scientist, the children attended an Episcopalian church. Perhaps in this, as in most things, the father had the last word. The Struven household, like most families of the era, was deeply patriarchal.

Young Jean was considered a well-behaved and bright child. Early on, however, she displayed a self-righteous and stubborn streak along with a hot temper. Like her Dad, she was nicknamed "Struvie."

Struvie was a classic high achiever, active in student government and class plays. She made good grades but had trouble with spelling. She also enjoyed having a good time listening and dancing to music, going on hayrides, and ice skating.

In her junior year of high school, Struvie won an essay contest for a piece that now seems oddly, even darkly, prescient. It was titled "The Man I Took For Granted" and was meant to be a tribute to Jean Harris's father partly inspired by Clarence Day's then-current best-seller, Life With Father.

She wrote: "Oh, Mr. Day, had I your talent with which to tell the story of an equally deserving father! . . . I have not the eloquence to bring it forth. Or perhaps this realization is not entirely an appreciation of father, but a step toward appreciating men in general. It is possible some day my subject will be, not 'The Man I Took For Granted,' but 'The Man Who Took Me For Granted.'"

Jean Struven attended the distinguished and prestigious Smith College. There she shone, majoring in economics, and graduating magna cum laude in 1945. She very much enjoyed two subjects, geology and art history, and always encouraged other people to take those types of classes for general requirements. Soon after graduation, she married Jim Harris, a handsome Navy veteran who worked as a sales engineer and enjoyed outdoors activities. The two plunged headlong into domestic life, Jim puttering in the garden, putting up storm windows, and cheerfully washing the car on weekends, Jean enthusiastically and energetically cooking and cleaning and, quite often, painting the walls. She worked as a schoolteacher for the first few years of their marriage and then decided to quit and devote herself to fulltime homemaking.

Their first child, David Harris, was born in 1950 and their second and last, Jimmie Harris, came into the world two years later. Although their mother was quite busy caring for two such young children, she found a way to use her adoration of tots to bring in a little extra family income by starting up a home kindergarten.

The happiness of the Harris family was not to last. As the children grew up, Jean and Jim began fighting and, perhaps worse, going through periods when they simply had little to say to each other. There was no dramatic moment, no "other man" or "other woman," just a kind of erosion of feeling until in 1964 Jean decided to call it quits. Her divorce was final the next year and Jean Harris was now a most attractive first-grade schoolteacher and divorced mother of two.

Soon a close friend named Marge Jacobson phoned and told Jean excitedly, "I got a guy for you" and introduced her to Dr. Herman Tarnower. Marge would ever after recall their meeting as an "instant take!"

Growing Up Tarnower

Herman Tarnower was born in Brooklyn in 1910 to Dora and Harry Tarnower, Jewish immigrants to America. As the only boy of four children, he was doted on by his parents. Alert and intelligent as a boy, he was expected to do his financially struggling family proud. Herman was often reminded of the value of a dollar and importance of being frugal. Athletic and sharp, the teenaged Herman excelled at playing pool and cards and used funds from his winnings to attend Syracuse University.

His first year was painful because other students made fun of his pronounced Brooklyn accent. Herman plunged into a speech course until his voice had the necessary tone of "refinement" to make him acceptable to those he wanted as his fellows.

Never averse to taking risks, Tarnower frequently hitchhiked until he got his first car. He was to tell Jean Harris that he had spent a college summer vacation hitchhiking all around the country.

Medicine was always his goal and Herman, often affectionately called "Hy," was able to shoulder enough of an academic load that he finished his premedical training in two years, half the time it usually takes. While Herman was in Europe on a postgraduate medical fellowship, Harry Tarnower had a fatal heart attack. His mother handed her son the $5,000 from her husbands life insurance policy to start his medical practice. In return, he supported his mother, who lacked experience and skill at work outside the home, until her death.

Herman Tarnower had definite ideas about the kind of life he wanted. Being a doctor of the upper echelon in society was of primary importance to him. To that end, he set up his practice in the Scarsdale and White Plains areas of New York specializing in cardiology and internal medicine.

Then World War II broke out and Herman Tarnower joined the U. S. Medical Corps in Louisville, Kentucky, where he soon earned a reputation as an excellent physician. He would be transferred three times to different military hospitals where he was always very respected as a doctor. At the Fort Knox military hospital, he was made chief of medical service. He was promoted to lieutenant, then captain, and finally major. He was selected as one of only two doctors to head a study of the possible after-effects of radiation suffered by the civilians at Nagasaki.

Soon after the Nagasaki study, Tarnower left the service and returned to Scarsdale to found the Scarsdale Medical Center. Later, he would start the first cardiopulmonary laboratory in the state between Albany and New York City and begin a cardiac unit at White Plains Hospital. He was appointed medical director at big name companies including the Nestle Corporation. Although there were fellow physicians who were critical of him, most of his colleagues, like virtually all of his patients, believed he was a top-of-the-line doctor. Virtually no one questioned his dedication to medicine and patients remember him fondly as having a warm and soothing bedside manner.

He cultivated the wealthy as his patients and adopted a snootiness in his social dealings, becoming known as imperious and haughty for, when he was not acting as a physician, he impressed most people as an unusually cold individual. Dr. Tarnower loved giving elaborate dinner parties for his many rich friends (who were also frequently his patients) as well as hunting, fishing, playing cards, and traveling.

Throughout his adult life, Herman Tarnower appears to have been very promiscuous, enjoying sex casually with any willing women who attracted him. Unlike many promiscuous men, however, he was not a deceiver and did not promise fidelity to any of the women who shared his bed, nor was he jealous and possessive.

Jean and Hy, An Item

Jean Harris was entranced by Hy, his air of self-confidence, even arrogance, and his dominant, take-charge manner. Harris has said that while she was working in a "mans world" in which she had to be competent and self-sufficient, she craved a traditionally submissive, even masochistic role in her private life. An old-fashioned sexist, Tarnower was always "the boss" with his girlfriends. Hy seemed equally smitten with Jean and the frugal doctor was uncharacteristically generous and tender with her, sending her gifts of books and flowers and showering her with praise. The two were soon seen about town, dining at the finest restaurants and dancing the nights away.

In 1967, Hy surprised all of his friends by proposing marriage to Jean Harris, who eagerly accepted. However, to the even greater surprise of both her friends and his, the wedding was delayed by Jean! The reason she gave a friend was that she simply could not pull her teenaged sons out of school and send them to another. It would, she believed, be too much of an upheaval for them. Another reason, perhaps her "real" motive for what struck many as a stupid move was, as noted in Shana Alexanders Very Much A Lady, that Jean "was not entirely certain she wanted to surrender her own independence."

By the time summer rolled around and the Harris boys had completed the school year, Tarnower had developed cold feet. To his credit, he did not try to hold onto Harris but told her that she should start seeing other men who did not have his bachelors resistance to matrimony.

It was have been both good and well-intentioned advice. Jean did not take it but faithfully continued her affair with Tarnower, who soon returned to enjoying his promiscuity.

Before beginning her affair with Hy, Jean decided that she wanted to branch out from teaching to school administration because the pay was just a teeny bit better. To that end, she began applying to a variety of institutions. She was hired as Director of the Middle School at Springside, a female academy in a hoity-toity Philadelphia suburb.

Love with Tarnower had some practical perks and one of them was accompanying him on his world travels. Jean relished the view she was getting of a variety of countries and cultures. Hy was a great traveling companion, she said.

Jean would change jobs several times during their fourteen-year-long affair. When Springsides headmistress retired in 1970, Harris had her fingers crossed that she would get the job. She was passed over and understandably stung by the rejection.

However, she was soon able to realize her dream of being headmistress at the small, exclusive Thomas School. Located in the quaint, affluent village of Rowayton, Connecticut, the school boasted what Shana Alexander has rightly described as a "singularly opaque" motto: "To learn and discern our brother the Clod, our brother the Worm, and our brother the God." Harris took on her duties with characteristic fervor, determined to make the unaccredited girls school into the very best in adolescent education.

During this time, Harris battled depression and the lethargy that accompanies it. She sought help from Dr. Herman Tarnower. He prescribed a drug called Desoxyn. Desoxyn is methamphetamine, a drug easily sold on the streets as "speed" because, unlike other anti-depressants, it does not require time to build up in a persons system nor does it affect only those who are already depressed. Rather, anybody can take it to get "high." Tarnower reasoned that "Integrity Jean" would not share her pills with others nor sell them on the streets nor take more than he recommended and, indeed, she did not.

After his death, Tarnower would be criticized for prescribing a drug that is so often sold and used for recreational purposes. Additionally, some observers thought it was "hypocritical" that a (however legal) "speed freak" should have reacted so strongly against pot smoking.

Telephone Harassment and Tryforos

While Herman Tarnower slept around with a variety of women, Jean Harriss jealousy started to focus on a single rival, his secretary-receptionist, Lynne Tryforos. In Harris estimation, Tryforos was the sort of ignorant, common woman a man might enjoy as a sexual "tootsie roll" but unworthy of being escorted to dates and dinner parties by a man as fine and respected as the eminent cardiologist, Dr. Herman Tarnower.

Jean Harris started being awakened from sleep by middle-of-the-night phone calls. They were not made by Lynne Tryforos or by anyone whose voice Harris recognized. They could be either male or female. The anonymous caller would tell Jean that she was "old and pathetic" or taunt her with graphic descriptions of Tarnowers enjoyment of another womans sexual acumen. At work, the headmistress would frequently get a call back number that turned out to be that of Lynne Tryforos. The two women would end up screaming at each other over the phone. Lynne Tryforos would change her unlisted number no less than five times over the ensuing years. Each time, Jean Harris would get the new number as a call back.

What kind of person is Lynne Tryforos? That is not publicly well known. Tryforos has, as is her right, turned down all of the many interview requests she received after the doctors killing. She never testified at Jean Harriss trial. Thus, we simply do not know her side and, in fairness, must remember that the awful things she is said to have done were just allegations made by her rival, Jean Harris. Photographs of Lynne Tryforos show an attractive and modestly dressed blonde with her hair fastidiously coiffed.

As the clich goes, love makes a man (or a woman) do crazy things but did Lynne Tryforos steal jewelry and destroy her rivals apparel? We do not know. Was she paying people to anonymously torment Jean Harris over the phone? We cannot know that either. The limited funds of a divorced secretary-receptionist supporting two young children would appear to make it unlikely. Moreover, the fact that Tryforos went to the trouble of changing her own phone number so frequently makes it probable either that she did not want Jeans call backs or, at least, that someone was making unwanted phone calls to her.

The apex of this triangle, Tarnower, also received anonymous phone calls. He wasnt bothered by them however and just hung up.

There is at least one incident in which Tryforos did something that might be considered of questionable "taste" or creatively cute, depending on ones standards. She took out a tiny advertisement on the front page of the New York Times saying, "Happy New Year Hy T. Love Always Lynne."

Apparently Tarnower didnt appreciate the gesture for when he saw it he exclaimed, "Jesus, I hope none of my friends see it!"

Jean Harris was at his elbow. She did not say what she should have said and what was in her heart, "I see it, Hy. Arent I your friend?" Instead she said, "Why dont you suggest she use the Goodyear Blimp next year? I think its available."

Lynne Tryforos made a good impression on many people. She is said to be a most efficient office assistant and many of the doctors friends believed that she put him at ease and was a good influence on him. Those who liked her have described her as a kind, pleasant, and thoughtful person.

In 1974, Jean Harris found herself out of a job. The Thomas School had merged with the Low-Heywood School and ceased to exist as a separate institution. While she was given the option of staying on, Harris decided to leave the educational arena for a while to take a job as Manager of Sales Administration for Allied Maintenance, an enormous firm based in Manhattan. Within a year, however, Harris was back in school administration as the headmistress of Madeira.

What Lucy Madeira Wrought

Lucy Madeira founded the school for girls in 1906. Graduates of Madeira were expected to enter the most exclusive womens colleges (virtually all institutions of higher learning were sex segregated in that era).

The Madeira School was first located in a row house in downtown Washington, D. C. In 1931, it moved its present campus, nestled near the famous Potomac River. The Madeira School consists of beautiful red brick buildings built in Georgian-style and includes a large stable and an indoor riding ring. Its most famous graduate is probably the The Washington Posts Katherine Graham. About two-thirds of its pupils are boarders and the rest "day students." The school has always prided itself on having rigorous coursework with a stronger emphasis on mathematics than is typical for an all-female institution and an atmosphere of no-nonsense discipline.

The motto of the Madeira School is Festinate lente, Latin for "Make haste slowly." The motto was regarded by Madeiras people as especially applicable when the school, like everything else in the United States, experienced the convulsions of the 1960s. People at the school also often quoted from two other pithy sayings from Lucy Madeira: "Function in disaster, finish in style" and "Keep calm at the very center of your being."

When Jean Harris assumed the role of headmistress in 1977, the school was suffering a bit of a decline. It no longer reliably placed young ladies into Ivy League schools and was plagued by disciplinary difficulties.

Jean Harris had her hands full. How well did she do?

According to one document, not very well. The Madeira board had commissioned Russell R. Browning Associates, a professional evaluation group, to study the state of their school. The Browning Report came out in May, 1979. It recommended the dismissal of Headmistress Jean Harris.

Harris was understandably upset at this recommendation. As she usually did in times of crisis, she ran to her boyfriend for reassurance. Herman Tarnower offered these words of comfort: "Hell, theyll never fire you. Theyre too lazy to look for a new head."

For the first time, Harris learned that she had not been the unanimous choice of the Madeira board, as she had been told, and that some who had first supported her had come around to opposing her. Harris was worried. Would she soon be unemployed? The specter of simply being out to sea hung over her as did the prospect of no income (she had very modest savings). So much of her life seemed to be crumbling around her. Her depression got deeper. She purchased a gun, thinking that if life ever got too much for her, she would have a simple, easy means to end it.

The Birth of a Best-Seller

Overweight people are at a higher risk for heart attacks than other people. Thus, a cardiologist must be interested in weight control. For many years, Dr. Tarnower gave his heavy patients a one-page sheet with a few rules for paring pounds: cut down on the carbs, eat a lot of fish, lean meat, fruits and vegetables, cut out alcohol, go easy on fats, salt, and sweets. The advice was not particularly brilliant or original but it was sound.

When friends from the publishing world suggested Tarnower write a book selling this diet to the world, he hesitated. He had no experience as a writer. Jean Harris strongly opposed his doing such a book. Diet books, in her opinion were tacky and trite and "diet docs" the object of ridicule rather than respect. Such an opus could damage his reputation, she believed.

Jean did not persuade Herman to nix the project. Instead, he found the argument put forth by writer Samm Sinclair Baker that Tarnower could both enrich himself and "help millions of people around the world at the same time" more alluring.

Thus, The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet was conceived. It took three months to transform a single sheet into a book. This was accomplished by including a variety of recipes, detailing successful case histories of people who had lost weight on the diet, and giving the reader the good doctors musings on weight, eating, and health.

Despite her contempt for diet books, Jean Harris became deeply involved with work on the book. She labored with her usual combination of enthusiasm, and perfectionism. When the book was published, the acknowledgements page began, "We are grateful to Jean Harris for her splendid assistance in the research and writing of this book."

The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet was an immediate best-seller. It shot to first place on the best-sellers list of the The New York Times, slipped to third, and went back to Numero Uno after an unexpected publicity boost by an event that took place on March 10, 1980.

Unfortunately, the author of the book was no longer around to enjoy his success.

Wounds, Bloodstains and Ricochets

At the police station after the shooting, the cops told Jean she could make a phone call and she called Leslie Jacobson, corporate attorney and husband of Marge, the friend who introduced Jean and Hy. He answered the phone groggy and in his pajamas but was instantly wide awake when Jean told him, in a voice thin with exhaustion and pain, "I think I killed Hy."

"Dont say another word," he ordered. He got his associates out of bed at the emergency and they brainstormed for the best criminal lawyer for Harris.

The man recommended was forty-nine-year-old Joel Aurnou, a short, balding, roly-poly sort given to cigars and good suits and known as a sharp, effective attorney.

Released on bail put up by her brother and surrounded by friends, a listless, shocked Harris told them she did not care about a defense. She just wanted to die. Herman Tarnower was dead; what did it matter what happened to her?

Aurnou found a way to restore her will to live by appealing to her sense of responsibility as a mother. Did she want David and Jimmy to be known as the sons of a murderess? For their sake, he told her, she had to clear her name. Jean decided she had to stay alive to prove she was innocent of the crime of intentional murder and save her adult children from that stigma.

The prosecuting attorney was thirty-four-year-old George Bolen, a tall, trim, boyishly handsome man with an earnest manner who was known to be quite ambitious. He often gave an impression of a rigidity and strain, a tension that led him to ask questions that were hopelessly obscure or mangled in meaning. There was, for example, this exchange in his cross-examination of Jean Harris.

BOLEN: Mrs. Harris, [would you tell us about] certain incidents that took place at Dr. Tarnowers home and particularly in the bedroom?"

HARRIS: Could you be more specific?

BOLEN: Did you have conversations with Dr. Tarnower?

HARRIS: Yes, whenever we talked we had conversation.

Earlier in the trial, when questioning the gun salesman who sold Harris the lethal weapon, Bolen released this grammatical monstrosity into the courtroom: "Back in October and November of 78, sir, to your knowledge, was there any in-house procedures promulgated by either yourself or someone immediately superior to you with respect to the procedures to be done with respect to acquainting any prospective purchaser of firearms, with the operation, maintenance and care and general safety of any handgun, be it a gun, or any type of weapon?"

Much of the trial consisted of technical testimony that was very hard for the jury to follow. After all, there was no question that she had killed Tarnower. The question for the jury to decide was one of intent. Had she deliberately murdered the man or had he died as the defense maintained, of a "tragic accident" that occurred when the two of them struggled over the gun?

One of the major prosecution witnesses who testified about the physical evidence was the Korean-born Dr. Louis Roh, Deputy Medical Examiner of Westchester County. A soft-spoken man, Dr. Roh declared that he believed Harris shot the doctor while he lay in bed. The wound in the hand was made by a bullet that went on to the poor mans shoulder, Dr. Roh said, since the two wounds could be lined up for this scenario.

Furthermore, Dr. Roh testified that the number and location of wounds sustained by Tarnower were inconsistent with a struggle between a man of his size and a woman of hers. On cross-examination, Aurnou was able to cast some doubt on Dr. Rohs testimony by showing that Roh had changed opinions more than once from that he had given in the autopsy report and that he had told the Grand Jury.

Chief amongst the major scientific witnesses for the defense was Professor Herbert MacDonnell. Tall, thin, and bearded, MacDonnell is a respected criminologist and he contradicted Rohs assertion that the same bullet that went through Tarnowers hand went into his chest. Rather, MacDonnell tracked the trajectory of a bullet that had penetrated the double glass door of Tarnowers bedroom, then ricocheted and went into a deck. He found a bloodstain on the glass doors frame and traced its trajectory as well. He concluded that the two trajectories intersected at the very point Harris recalled she and Tarnower were when he was shot in the hand. That bullet did not go into the wounded mans shoulder, MacDonnell testified, but through the glass door.

The prosecution and defense engaged in a fierce verbal fencing match over three tiny bits of tissue found in the dead mans chest. Dr. Roh testified that they were bits of skin from the palm of Tarnowers hand. Withering cross-examination by Aurnou led Roh to concede that he was not completely certain of that diagnosis and defense pathologist Dr. A. Bernard Ackerman testified "unequivocal[ly]" that they were not.

Integrity Jean Takes the Stand

The most dramatic part of the trial occurred when Jean Harris testified in her own defense. She seemed alternately depressed and agitated, sorrowful and snobbish. Under Joel Aurnous gentle questioning she went through her background, her problems at work, and her long love affair with Hy.

During direct examination, Joel Aurnou read aloud to the jury a poem that his client had written. The lawyer chuckled frequently as he read his clients work. He apparently believed the poem showed Jean Harris was not jealous but bemused by Tarnowers promiscuity. However, patterned after Twas the Night Before Christmas, the poem is, as Shana Alexander noted, "pathetic, not funny" and barely conceals the writers feelings of inferiority and despair under a thin surface of brittle humor. Titled A Very Merry to Vivian and Arthur and Herman, the poem was written for the Christmas of 1979 and concerns Vivian and Arthur Schulte as well as Herman Tarnower. All of the female names are, according to Jean Harris, made up rather than those of Hermans actual bedmates.

Twas the night before Christmas, and in part of the house
Arthur was snuggling with Vivian, his spouse.
In the guest room lay Herman who, trying to sleep,
Was counting the broads in his life stead of sheep!
On Hilda, on Sigrid, on Jinx and Raquel;
Brunhilde, Veronica, Gretel, Michele;
Now Tanya, Rapunzel, Electra, Adele;
Now Susie, Anita keep trucking, Giselle. . . .
But tis the time to be jolly and very upbeat
And for now thats not hard because Hermans asleep!
Beside him lay Jeannie, headmistress by Jiminy
Who was waiting for Santa to come down the chimney.
A huge stocking theyd hung by the hearth, those four sinners!
In hopes St. Nick would forgive and theyd all end up winners.
Would he leave them a prize or a well-deserved switch?
And how would they know which switch went to which?
But for now they were snuggled all safe in their beds
While visions of dividends danced through their heads.
Then all of a sudden there arose such a clatter,
Herm woke from his sleep to see what was the matter.
And with Jeannie obediently three paces back,
They tip-toed to the living room to watch Nick unpack.
He smiled to himself as he looked at their list.
And thought to himself, what an ironic twist!
I know perfectly well theyve been gambling and boozing
But theyre likable sorts so its rather confusing.
Ill leave them some bauble to match their uniquenesses.
And cater a bit to their favorite weaknesses!

The poem continues with Santa giving jewels and books to Viv, a jug of alcohol to Arthur, a "black book" full of the phone numbers of "some new red-hot mamas" to Herman, and nothing at all to Jean. Unfortunately, Jean Harriss attorney missed the barely concealed scorn in the poem, the guilt-ridden and sado-masochistic connotations of the "well-deserved switches," as well as the choking despair of the headmistress ignored by Santa.

The Sacrsdale Letter at Trial

Much of Bolen's cross-examination of Harris was a build-up to his reading of the Scarsdale Letter. He asked her if that letter had a lot to do with Dr. Tarnower. "It had a lot to do with my very deep affection for him," Harris said. The reply had to please the prosecutor for he well knew that it was far from a love letter. He asked if it had to do with another woman and again Jean Harris' answer helped to bury her. "Yes," she said, "but more to do with my own integrity in being touched by the other woman than by the other woman herself." He asked Harris if she considered herself "publicly humiliated by the fact that Dr. Tarnower was seeing Lynne Tryforos in public" and she answered that "I thought he was publicly humiliated much more than I."

Finally, Bolen read the letter in its entirety to the court. The judge turned his face away from the jury so they could not see his expression. As noted at the beginning of this article, the letter detailed wrongs Harris claimed to have suffered at the hands of Lynne Tryforos and repeatedly called Tryforos by vulgar names. It included passages vividly revealing Harris's deeply wounded self-image. People gasped when hearing that Harris wrote that, "to be jeered at and called 'old and pathetic' made me seriously consider borrowing $5,000 just before I left New York and telling a doctor to make me young again -- to do anything but make me not feel like discarded trash. I lost my nerve because there was always the chance I'd end up uglier than before."

When Bolen finished reading this extraordinary epistle, the entire courtroom seemed to be in shock. One juror had tears on her cheeks.

Jean Harris was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tarnower because, at that time in New York, first-degree murder applies only to the killing of a police officer or corrections officer on duty. To be found guilty on this charge, the jury must determine that the prosecutor proved that the defendant consciously intended to cause the death of the victim.

Normally, the jury would have been offered the option of first-degree, or voluntary, manslaughter. A person is guilty of first-degree manslaughter when, with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he or she causes the death of that person or when he or she causes the death under circumstances that are not murder because the defendant acted under extreme emotional disturbance. The jury was not given the option of voluntary manslaughter in the Jean Harris case. Joel Aurnou requested that the judge not include it. He explained his reasoning to a reporter before the trial started, "Usually it's the defense lawyer who asks to have lesser included offenses charged. In this instance, the DA will ask it, and I will insist that they not be. I want to force that jury to choose either murder or acquittal no compromise."

The jury was given two lesser charges, however. One was second-degree, or involuntary, manslaughter. A defendant is guilty of this charge if he or she engaged in reckless conduct resulting in another person's death. The other "down" charge was criminally negligent homicide. To be convicted on this charge, a defendant must have acted in a manner he or she failed to perceive had a great, legally unjustifiable risk of harm to another person. The failure to perceive the risk must be grossly deviant from the perception a reasonable person would make under similar circumstances.

In his emotional summation to the jury, Joel Aurnou told them, "Do not compromise [The death of Herman Tarnower] was a tragic accident Don't compromise! Search for the truth - we can take it!"

The jury took its duty seriously. They deliberated for eight full days.

Their verdict: "Guilty of murder in the second-degree."

On the day that she was to be sentenced, Jean Harris sat in the courtroom ashen faced, shrunken, and trembling. When the judge asked if she had any statement to make before he passed sentence, she replied that she did.

She rose unsteadily to her feet but when she spoke her voice quavered but never broke. "I wasn't to say that I did not murder Dr. Herman Tarnower," she began, "that I loved him very much and I never wished him ill, and I am innocent as I stand here. For you or for Mr. Bolen to arrange my life so that I will be in a cage for the rest of it, and that every time I walk outside I will have iron around my wrists" -- here she paused to hold up her hands together as if in handcuffs -- "is not justice; it is a travesty of justice. The people in that jury were told Mr. Bolen will prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Harris intended to kill Dr. Tarnower. In their many statements, and a number of them decided to become public figures now, and they have written for the newspaper and they have been on television shows and they have been on radio shows in every single statement they have said, in essence, Mrs. Harris took the stand and didn't prove to us she was innocent, and therefore we find her guilty. In the 10,000 pages of testimony that have been taken here, there isn't a page, there isn't a paragraph and there isn't a sentence in which anyone suggests, in which the prosecution suggests, how I was guilty of intentionally hurting Dr. Tarnower. And certainly for [Mr. Bolen] to suggest that he cannot adequately articulate how people feel the loss, that is really gratuitous, because he certainly doesn't have to explain it to me. No one in the world feels that loss more than I do. I am not guilty, your Honor."

At the end of her impassioned statement, there was a brief burst of applause from some spectators and Judge Leggett gaveled for order.

Harris sat down. Judge Leggett had no choice but to sentence Jean Harris to spend from fifteen years to life in prison.

Jean Harris turned to her attorney and said, in a voice full of pain and despair, "I can't just sit in jail, Joel."

From Behind Bars

She didnt. Her time in prison may have been miserable but it was spent quite usefully. She published three books while behind bars: Stranger in Two Worlds, They Always Call Us Ladies, and Marking Time.

The first book was her autobiography. It dealt with her entire life up to that point including some of her experiences in prison. They Always Call Us Ladies was entirely about her experiences in prison, her observations about the prison system, and includes a brief history of that system. Marking Time consists of letters the imprisoned Harris wrote to Shana Alexander. The two became friends while Alexander was writing Very Much A Lady, a book that Harris deliberately did not ever read.

Jean Harris spent much of her time in prison working at the Bedford Prison Childrens Center and helping to give parenting classes to inmate moms. As she points out in her books, people tend to lose sight of the fact that convicts are often also mothers and fathers and, indeed, that many mothers give birth while incarcerated.

Her attorneys appealed the verdict three times but lost. She petitioned for clemency and was repeatedly denied but finally, on December 29, 1992, after serving twelve years behind bars and suffering two heart attacks while in prison, her sentence was commuted by then-Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo.

Now in her mid 70s, Harris devotes much of her time to raising money for the education of the children of inmates at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.



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