Slaying suspect returned to Md. from N. Carolina

January 11, 1995|By Tom Keyser and Ed Heard | Tom Keyser and Ed Heard,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writer Alan J. Craver contributed to this article.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Daniel Scott Harney wanted to attend his wife's funeral. Instead he was returned to Maryland yesterday to be tried in her killing.

At a hearing in a Charlotte courtroom yesterday, the Owings Mills man accused of killing his estranged wife Dec. 26 in Howard County asked a judge whether he could go to her funeral, scheduled for noon today at Harry H. Witzke Funeral Home in Ellicott City.

Shirley Scott Harney, 41, was shot to death and run over by a car outside her Ellicott City home. County Judge James E. Lanning seemed taken aback by Mr. Harney's question. He asked him to repeat it.

Then the judge curtly told the suspect that he could not help him.

Mr. Harney, 40, agreed at the hearing not to fight extradition. He arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Airport later yesterday and was ushered off his flight in handcuffs and shackles into a waiting unmarked police car by four Howard County detectives. Fellow passengers said he quietly drank coffee during the hourlong trip.

He was to be charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder last night and held at the county Detention Center. He has a bond review hearing this morning.

At a separate, private hearing yesterday in Charlotte, Mr. Harney's parents were granted custody of Mr. Harney's two sons.

The boys, 8 and 10, were with their father when he was arrested in Charlotte Saturday night. They were unharmed and placed in a foster home.

The boys left Charlotte yesterday with their grandmother, Lucille Harney of McLean, Va., to attend their mother's funeral. Their maternal grandparents are dead.

By phone from Virginia, the boys' grandfather, Jack Harney, said gaining custody of his grandchildren was a small victory for the family. "I'm glad everything worked out reasonably well," he said.

Mr. Harney said he expects his grandchildren to adjust well to living in his home, because they've visited often. He plans to enroll the boys in an elementary school within a week.

"I don't think there'll be any problems," Mr. Harney said. "As with any crises, you live through it and do the best you can. We've got a long road to travel. We're just beginning to take that first step. A lot of things will have to be worked out."

The boys learned of their mother's death Monday from their grandmother, said Charlotte police investigator Donald L. Rock. When their father was arrested Saturday night, 12 days after the killing, the boys knew nothing about what had happened to her.

Mr. Harney had picked up the boys at their mother's home in the Brampton Hills section of Ellicott City the afternoon of Dec. 26 for a prearranged holiday visit. "It appeared he treated the boys well, as any father would who loved his children," Howard Police Cpl. Frank Dayhoff said in Charlotte.

Meanwhile, blood and urine samples were taken from Mr. Harney before he left Charlotte at the request of Howard State's Attorney Marna McLendon. Tests will determine if he's been taking the anti-depressant Prozac or other medications. Mr. Harney's father said Monday his son took the drug.

Ms. McLendon said it's too early to say whether Mr. Harney may try to use the anti-depressant as part of a defense strategy. Some have claimed Prozac can trigger suicide or acts of violence. "It may become an issue," Ms. McLendon said. "If that is to be a defense, we want to have the best information possible."

Shirley and Daniel Harney had been separated since July, Corporal Dayhoff said. Mr. Harney had moved to Owings Mills.

Police say Mr. Harney took the boys to Owings Mills and then returned to his wife's house later that night, broke in through a basement window, discovered his wife in the bedroom with a male companion and opened fire with a .38-caliber, five-shot revolver.

All five shots were fired, Corporal Dayhoff said. Two struck Mrs. Harney. One wounded her friend, William Arthur Helmbold, 45, of the 2100 block of Gaybrook Road in Woodlawn, in his right elbow. He was hospitalized for two days.

Somehow, the officer said, Shirley and Daniel Harney ended up in the driveway. Mrs. Harney's body, found later at the end of the driveway, had been run over by a car.

Mr. Harney disappeared with the two boys in his silver-gray Toyota Camry. He was arrested at a Charlotte hotel Saturday, the same night his case was televised on the crime show, "America's Most Wanted."

More than 200 viewers called the show to report seeing the Harneys. Police said Mr. Harney drove the boys to Florida, visited Walt Disney World and stopped in Charlotte.

Police traced him to the hotel on a tip by a recruiter for an executive employment agency who saw an advertisement on TV for "America's Most Wanted" Saturday afternoon. Mr. Harney, a financial administrator at Westinghouse Corp., had spoken to the woman four days earlier about a job.

He used his correct name, said he was from Baltimore and brought along the boys.

Mr. Harney was driving the same car with the same license plates, with an unloaded, .38-caliber revolver inside the vehicle, police said.

"I've seen cases like this go bad," Corporal Dayhoff said. "We're just glad Harney didn't harm himself or his children."

Mrs. Harney was a volunteer tutor at her boys' school, Worthington Elementary.

A published poet, she had earned a master's degree in English from University of Maryland at College Park in 1980. Most recently, she worked as a legal secretary in Baltimore. Friends described her as quiet with a quick wit.

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