How to (Almost) Get Away With Murder

Toronto, ON - JANUARY 31, 2014. Murder suspect Christopher Fattore is being escorted by Peel Regional Police to Peel Police airport division after his flight from Halifax arrived at Pearson shortly after 5 p.m. The flight was about an hour later than co-accused Melissa Merritt. (Chris So/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Three healthy people died at 3635 Pitch Pine Crescent in Mississauga, Ontario, in less than four years. In this in-depth multimedia piece at the Toronto Star, Amy Dempsey unravels how a series of missteps and errors at every phase of the investigation nearly allowed one couple to get away with murder — three times.

CALEB HARRISON was not the first person in his family to die at 3635 Pitch Pine Cres. He was not even the second. In April 2010, his 63-year-old mother, Bridget Harrison, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs leading to the second floor. Her body lay steps away from the powder room where one year earlier she had discovered her husband, Bill Harrison, cold and lifeless. His death at 64 was classified as natural until Bridget died under suspicious circumstances and a coroner updated his file, placing the deaths of husband and wife in the same category. “Undetermined.”

And now a third mysterious death. An entire family wiped out. How could this happen?

Peel Regional Police would come to believe that the same perpetrators were responsible for all three deaths — a theory that, if proven, meant that someone had gotten away with murder twice before, and that authorities had missed two homicides.

A criminal trial led to murder convictions in two of the three deaths, but it did not expose the series of missteps that led to this extraordinary investigative failure. Pieced together, records disclosed over four years of criminal proceedings tell a story of mistakes made at every juncture — by police, coroners and pathologists.

Read the story