Jean S. Harris, Scarsdale Diet doctor killer, dies at 89


A Utah teacher is shown how to handle a handgun by an instructor at a concealed-weapons training class for 200 teachers in West Valley City, Utah, on Dec. 27, 2012.


George Frey

Jean S. Harris, a boarding school headmistress who was convicted of second-degree murder for killing the cardiologist author of “The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet” in 1980, died Sunday, her son James confirmed today, according to the Associated Press. She was 89.

According to the New York Times:

For more than a year — from her arrest on March 10, 1980, to her sentencing for second-degree murder on March 20, 1981 — Mrs. Harris’s case was front-page news.

Harris was 56 and the headmistress of the Madeira School in Virginia when police stopped her driving away from the Purchase, NY, home of Dr. Herman Tarnower as he lay dying from four gunshot wounds inside, the New York Times reported.

Harris claimed that Tarnower, 69, her boyfriend of 14 years, had been shot when he tried to stop her from committing suicide, the AP reported.

However, a jury found her guilty of murdering Tarnower, who had been cheating on her with other women, and sentenced her to 15 years to life, the AP reported.

Harris spent 12 years in prison before being granted clemency, the AP reported. During those years, she counseled inmate mothers on childcare, the New York Times reported.

After she was released in 1993, she set up a foundation to fund scholarships for the children of women in prison in New York State, the New York Times reported.

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