A California Highway Patrol captain on leave was discovered dead from a gunshot wound in Tennessee days after being detained in connection with the shooting death of her husband in Kentucky and being detained herself on suspicion of trespassing at the home of his girlfriend, according to police records obtained by The Times.
According to CHP spokesperson Sgt. Jeremy Wayland, Julie Harding, 49, was discovered deceased on Saturday in a house in a remote area close to the Kentucky border.
Her passing occurs two days after a guy from Napa, California, was detained in connection with the murder of her 53-year-old husband, Michael Harding, in October.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into Julie Harding’s death, but officials have stated that foul play is not suspected.
The focus of the investigation, according to a source familiar with the Kentucky-based probe who was not authorized to publicly discuss Michael Harding’s death, is on whether the Napa man was complicit in a murder-for-hire scheme involving the CHP chief.
A California Highway Patrol captain on leave in Tennessee was found dead of a gunshot wound days after an arrest in the fatal shooting of her husband in Kentucky and her own arrest on suspicion of trespassing at his girlfriend’s house. https://t.co/InMjSzgOIB
— Richard Winton (@LAcrimes) December 15, 2022
Julie Harding, who worked for the CHP for 22 years, has been the office manager in Yuba-Sutter since 2018, according to Wayland. He was unable to specify the length of Harding’s leave, but authorities said that she and her husband were the owners of the Tennessee property where Harding was residing.
According to a sheriff’s spokeswoman, Harding was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing two days before to her passing and taken to the Rutherford County, Tennessee, jail, which is located roughly 100 miles from the residence where her body was discovered in the city of Celina.
Police reports stated that the Hardings were divorcing and that the CHP captain had been harassing Natasha Davis, her husband’s girlfriend.In October, Davis claimed that Harding intruded on her property and attempted to reclaim the Hardings’ dog, which Davis had been caring for.
On September 18, Michael Harding’s home in Celina received a missing person report. It wasn’t immediately obvious who reported the missing people. Police are asking the public for assistance in finding him; his last known location was in Kentucky, close to Cumberland County.
According to officials, his body was found on September 26 at an empty house that was up for sale in Cumberland County. The coroner’s office for the county reported that he had been shot several times.
According to State Police Trooper 1st Class Jonathan Houk, Kentucky law enforcement contacted the FBI, Tennessee, and California law enforcement for assistance with the investigation.
According to Houk, Thomas Francis O’Donnell of Napa has been named as a suspect in the death of Michael Harding and was detained on Thursday at the Sacramento International Airport.
Booking records indicate that O’Donnell, 60, is being held without bond pending extradition to Kentucky.
Authorities are still investigating to determine whether there is a connection between the murders of the Hardings, but cops have already highlighted a worrisome relationship between the CHP captain and Davis.
Davis “indicated dread of Julie because Michael was shot in the head,” according to police reports from Tennessee.
According to police documents, Julie Harding was seen on a Ring camera entering Davis’ home without permission two weeks after Michael Harding’s death was discovered to take the Hardings’ dog named Charlie.
According to a Tennessee complaint seeking an arrest warrant for Harding, Davis informed police that she had promised to turn the dog over to the police at a station, but on October 10 Harding unlocked her front door and took the dog by the collar.