New podcast series delves into cold-case murder of North Texas woman
A new season of Final Days on Earth, a crime podcast from Texas investigative journalist Claire St. Amant, returns with a murder in mind: Jennifer Harris, a 28-year-old woman who disappeared in Bonham, Texas, on Mother's Day in 2002.
The investigation into her murder was reportedly botched, with evidence such as her car keys, clothes, and laptop that was contaminated or missing entirely. It was the subject of a 2018 feature on 48 Hours, an episode that St. Amant, a development producer for CBS News and former CultureMap Dallas editor, also produced.
Harris owned a massage and wellness center in Frisco, and had moved to Bonham to temporarily live with her grandmother. On May 12, 2002, she said she was going to meet someone, but was never seen again. The next day, her Jeep Wrangler was found on a county road, and on May 18, her nude body was found in the Red River by fishermen. An autopsy determined that her uterus had been removed, elevating her death to the category of violent homicide.
The podcast, which premiered on May 10 and runs through July 12, recounts the final days of Jennifer’s life and follows the investigation into her disappearance and death.
St. Amant says it made a worthy podcast subject because it remains unsolved and the family and sheriff's department were seeking fresh eyes.
"I had been aware of the case for years, and it always struck me as one with so much potential for investigating," she says. "There is a lot of information that is known about what Jennifer was doing in the final days of her life, and I wanted to see if I could find any more answers in her case by going back through the file, conducting new interviews, and making a detailed timeline of events."
The first season of Final Days on Earth debuted in 2021, focusing on Dammion Heard, a college wrestler who vanished after a party in 2014 in Gunnison, Colorado. St. Amant says that making a timeline was a key element on that podcast, and she repeated that formula for Season 2.
"Much like in my first season, the timeline is the crux of the story," she says. "I used the case file from the sheriff's office and conducted additional interviews with Jennifer's family and an investigator who has been working on the case for years. I'm still reporting and writing the final episodes of the podcast, and next month, I’m heading back to Bonham to do a drive along with the investigator to get a better understanding of his research in the case and what he has come to learn about Jennifer’s final night on earth."
St. Amant, who has deep experience across a variety of platforms including broadcast and print, sees podcasting as a growing industry with great potential for telling all kinds of stories. Her first season hit half a million downloads, and she's aiming for 1 million with Season 2.
"For so many years, the concept of Final Days on Earth just lived on my laptop," she says. "To be able to share it and have people all over the world listen and respond to the story has been so gratifying. The podcast audience is engaged and loyal and that makes for a really rewarding production experience."
The 10-episode podcast from Cold Case Productions and PodcastOne is out now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast sites; it's available here. New episodes are released every Tuesday through July 12. For a peek, there's a teaser trailer on YouTube.