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Monday, May 13, 2013 04:22 pm

The calm before the storm

Harris talks smooth before arrest

Less than 12 hours after Raymond “Rick” Gee, his wife Ruth and three of their children were beaten to death with a tire iron, Christopher Harris answered a booty call from a girlfriend, spending more than three hours with her while the Gees lay dead and undiscovered in their blood-soaked Beason home.

Under questioning by Illinois State Police special agent Robert Michael Jennings nine days after the slayings and one day before his arrest on charges of first-degree murder, Harris said the girlfriend called him at 10 a.m. on Sept. 21, 2009, just hours after the Gees were killed in the wee hours, and asked him to come to her place in Clinton. He did.

“You had sex with her?” Jennings, now retired, asked during the taped interview that jurors saw on Monday.

“Yeah,” Harris answered. “There was only one mattress. It wasn’t very comfortable.”

Harris denied being in the Gee home or having anything to do with the slayings, guaranteeing Jennings that bloody footprints found in the house weren’t his, even though the prints matched the tread on his K-Swiss tennis shoes. He’s telling a different story now.

Facing a lifetime in prison, Harris, 34, admits killing Dillen Constant, Ruth Gee’s 14-year-old son, but claims self defense, saying that Dillen attacked him after killing his family. It was, the defense says, a case of bad timing, with the defendant stopping by the home to buy pot and stumbling across a massacre.

Gruesome photos of battered bodies prompted one juror to weep last week and another to put a hand over his eyes and look to the back of the courtroom while shaking his head. Harris, however, sounded non-plussed as he spent an hour talking to Jennings at the Logan County sheriff’s office more than three years ago, occasionally crossing his legs or folding his arms as he talks about his on-again-off-again relationship with his ex-wife Nicole Gee, adult daughter of Rick Gee, and hooking up with another woman hours before the bodies were found. He had walked out on Nicole, mother of his newborn son, four days before the slayings. He doesn’t sound worried about his shoes.

“I guarantee those prints aren’t mine,” Harris says. “I know they’re not. Absolutely.”

Jennings tells Harris that police will get their man.

“We’re going to find out,” the special agent tells Harris. “Right now, there’s enough evidence to really focus on you. Whoever did that could be the most cold-blooded motherfucker who ever was. They could sleep and act calm. If there’s anything you know…”

“I don’t,” said Harris after detailing his whereabouts the night of the killings. “I told you everything I can think of.”

“You got my card, right?” Jennings said. “Unless you’re a total pathological liar, you’re not the guy. Have you ever been on medication? Did you do anything Sunday night – acid?”

“I’m not even capable,” replies Harris, who admitted that he had done cocaine that night while out drinking with his brother. “I couldn’t kill nobody.”

Jennings cut the suspect loose after an hour, imploring him to not tell anyone, not even Nicole, that police were interested in shoe prints. And don’t call the folks you saw in bars while out drinking the night of the killings, the special agent warned.

“If you do, you’re shitting backwards on us,” Jennings said. “The only thing I don’t know is what’s going on inside your head right now. I don’t know you.”

Police, Jennings told Harris, would check out every detail of his story.

“So far, it fits,” said the special agent who told the jury that Harris’ calm demeanor had thrown him off.

Before leaving the interview, Harris removed his shirt and pulled up the legs of his jeans to prove that he had no injuries save for a healed-over blister on his right hand just below his index finger, which was understandable given that he had been clearing brush with a Weedeater and some sort of clipper the day before the killings.

“That’s another thing – we think this guy was hurt,” Jennings told Harris.

After putting his shirt back on, Harris was good to go. But not for long.

One day after Jennings released the suspect, investigators confirmed that a bloody palm print found in the Gee home came from Harris. He has been in jail ever since.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.


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