April 7, 2009 in Nation/World

Mother says killings meant to punish her

Phuong Le Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Orting High School Assistant Principal Jon Bell and Principal Doris Bolender put up a tribute banner to Maxine Harrison at Orting High School’s common area Monday.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

SEATTLE – The mother of five children killed in their Pierce County home said Monday she believes her husband killed them to punish her.

Authorities believe James Harrison shot his five children early Saturday at the family home in Graham. He was found later that day, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot, behind the wheel of his idling car miles away in suburban Auburn.

Angela Harrison told Seattle television station KCPQ that she tried many times to leave her 34-year-old husband and he tried to control her for years.

Pierce County sheriff’s officers said the woman had told her husband she was leaving him for another man.

But the 30-year-old mother told the TV station that she didn’t have an affair and had planned to go back home to get her kids. She said she never thought her husband would shoot their children.

“They were my life, and they were taken from me. He was real selfish, what he did,” she told KCPQ.

Angela Harrison said 16-year-old Maxine was learning to drive and hoped to become a cosmetologist. Jayme was a quiet, loving 14-year-old girl who loved video games.

Samantha, 12, wanted to become a veterinarian. Eight-year-old Heather loved the outdoors, and 7-year-old James was energetic and even at his age talked about joining the Navy.

Neighbors and school officials remembered the children Monday as bright, well-mannered, “good kids.”

“All five of them were lovely, lovely children, and they will be absolutely missed in all of our schools,” Orting Primary School Principal Janette Bergen said Monday. “It’s a tough day.”

Candy Johnson, the children’s great-aunt, said she has set up a memorial fund to help raise money to pay for funeral services, which relatives hoped to hold at Orting High School.

Johnson has said that James Harrison was very controlling of his wife and children. “She was with him since the time she was 12 years old and she didn’t know anything else,” Johnson added.

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