Man sentenced to 120 years for ‘demonic’ murders of father and son

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut man was sentenced to spend 120 years in prison for murder, more than 30 years after the victims were killed.

In a news release, New Haven State’s Attorney John Doyle Jr. said that a judge sentenced Willie McFarland, 55, to 120 years in prison for killing Fred Harris, 59, and his son, Greg Harris, 23, in August 1987.

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Fred and Greg Harris were found in the upstairs bedroom of their Hamden Home on Aug. 27, 1987. The victims were found bound with their throats slashed. Prosecutors said that McFarland nearly decapitated the victims after binding them with phone cords and stabbing them in the chest, WTIC reported.

The bodies of the men were not found for nearly a week until Fred Harris’ sister called the police after not being able to reach him for days, the New Haven Register reported.

McFarland had a criminal history and had been released from jail the day before the murders, WVIT reported. On the day of the murders, McFarland allegedly went to the home asking to borrow a knife and forced his way into the home when the victims gave it to him.

McFarland allegedly confessed to the crimes in 1996, while he was in jail for an unrelated crime, WVIT reported. He told police that he killed the two men because he was looking for a gun and money he believed were inside the home.

Despite the confession, police did not have enough evidence to make an arrest or charge McFarland until advances in DNA technology allowed them to test evidence and connect McFarland to the scene, The New York Times reported.

“After 35 years, the man responsible for the murder of a father and son, in their own home, has been brought to justice,” Doyle said in a statement.

“I can almost retire now, feel good about retiring because this case really waned on me for many years as it did many others,” retired Hamden Police Captain Ronald Smith told WTIC.

When handing down the sentence, Judge Elpedio Vitale called the murders “a demonic level of violence and terror” and ordered McFarland to serve 60 years for each murder, to be served consecutively. The judge noted in his sentencing that McFarland was “an unqualified menace to society.”

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