48 Hours profiles Ozark’s Tracey Harris murder Saturday, Jan 23

The woman who turned an Alabama murder case upside down speaks publicly for the first time and a daughter learns the truth about her mother’s killer in “48 HOURS: THE 30-YEAR SECRET – THE TRACEY HARRIS MURDER”
48 Hours
48 Hours(Source: CBS News)
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 3:36 PM CST
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A young mother was found murdered in an Alabama river in 1990. Nearly 30 years later, the man long suspected as her killer was arrested. But just before trial, a confession turned the case upside down. Now, in her first television interview, the woman who changed the case speaks to 48 HOURS in “The 30-Year Secret – The Tracey Harris Murder” to be broadcast Saturday, Jan. 23 (9:00 PM, CT) on the CBS Television Network.

Correspondent Maureen Maher and 48 HOURS report on the life of Tracey Harris, a hard-working, loving young mother from Ozark, Ala. and the investigation into her murder. Maher also speaks with the longtime suspect, Harris’ ex-husband Carl Harris; their daughter, Carolyn Aznavour, who grew up believing her father killed her mom; and the prosecutors who learned of the shocking secret that finally led to solving the case.

Tracey Harris disappeared on March 7, 1990. A week later, her body was found in a nearby river. Her death was ruled a homicide. From the start, Carl Harris appeared to be the only suspect. They had recently divorced and he had a girlfriend and witnesses reported that he abused Tracey. Harris, though, maintained he had nothing to do with Tracey’s death and denied allegations of abuse.

“I never put my hands on Tracey, never,” Carl Harris tells Maher.

“So all those people are lying?” Maher asks.

“Yes ma’am,” Harris responds. “I loved Tracey. She was the love of my life.”

Despite the suspicion, no arrest was made.

“Everybody thought I killed her,” Harris tells 48 HOURS. “Everywhere I turn, you know, you can hear them whispering in the background ‘there’s the man that killed Tracey.’”

“I knew my mom was murdered,” Aznavour tells Maher. She was just 4 years old when her mother was killed. “And then, as the years went on, I found out that it had to do with my dad.”

Aznavour also says she does not have any memories of her mother. “Family would always bring up stories about her, how sweet she was, how shy she was,” she says.

The Harris murder case languished until 2015 when the Ozark police cold case unit took another look. They focused heavily on Carl Harris. Then, 26 years after Tracey Harris was found murdered, Carl Harris was arrested. Prosecutors were confident in their case, until they reached out to Dawn Beasley, a friend of Tracey’s. Beasley had given a statement in 1990 describing abuse she says she witnessed. At first she refused to testify at Carl Harris’ trial. She said she was busy. But, then, she said something else.

“The most important reason I can’t testify is because you have an innocent man on trial,” Beasley says she told them. “I kept the secret for 30 years.”

They were days away from Carl Harris’ trial.

“I’ve thought about a thousand times the what-ifs,” says prosecutor Jordan Davis. “And that’s kind of nauseating … that we were that close.”

“This one was a complete roller-coaster ride towards the end … as far as an emotional situation, this was by far the toughest one,” adds Dale County District Attorney Kirke Adams.

48 HOURS in “The 30-Year Secret – The Tracey Harris Murder” is produced by Ruth Chenetz. Michelle Sigona is the development producer. Kat Teurfs is the associate producer. Richard Barber, Ken Blum and Michelle Harris are the editors. Lourdes Aguiar is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.

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