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Details emerge in death of woman at Pinchot State Park

Jolie Harris is charged with criminal homicide in the death of Lauren Gallagher over the weekend at the park. Both women were found there Monday
Credit: York County Central Booking
Jolie Harris

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — "Does antifreeze have a taste" and "windpipe location" were among the search terms found on the phone belonging to a 40-year-old Delaware County woman arrested in connection to the death of another woman found Monday at Gifford Pinchot State Park, according to State Police.

Jolie Danielle Harris was charged Wednesday with one count of criminal homicide in the death of Lauren Gallagher, 37, whose body was found near the campsite the two had rented together over the weekend.

Gallagher died of "sharp force trauma to the neck," according to an autopsy. York County Coroner Pam Gay ruled her death a homicide.

Police say Gallagher's windpipe had been cut. A Kobalt utility knife with what appeared to be dried blood on the blade was found near her body, along with a black rock that appeared to have blood and hair in the crevices, according to police.

Harris was taken into custody Thursday by members of the State Police York Criminal Investigation Unit and the State Police Fugitive Unit, State Police said.

Harris, 40, resided with Gallagher in a home owned by Gallagher's parents, according to the criminal complaint affidavit filed by State Police. The two were in a relationship and often referred to themselves as married, relatives told police.

Police were called to the park Monday at 11:29 a.m., after park rangers reported finding suspicious items in an abandoned vehicle registered to Gallagher's father, according to the complaint.

Police say they found a dead dog and a black iPhone in the vehicle, along with other personal items. They determined that two campers, identified as Gallagher and Harris, were missing. Troopers were sent to their families, who indicated they had not heard from the women in several days and were concerned for their well-being.

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Police conducted a search of the area, but were unable to locate Harris or Gallagher, according to the complaint. 

At about 6:30 p.m. Monday, police say, another camper called 911 to report he had found a dead body in a wooded area near his campsite. The body was covered by a blanket, the man reported.

While still on the phone with 911, police say, the man approached the body to try to determine the extent of the person's injuries. It was then that a second woman, later identified as Harris, uncovered her face from under the blanket and requested help, claiming she had been assaulted and was "bleeding everywhere," police say.

Troopers who later responded to the scene said they did not notice any injuries on Harris that were actively bleeding, the complaint states.

Harris allegedly told the man who found her that she and Gallagher had been attacked by unknown persons and that Gallagher had been killed.

Harris was transported to York Hospital to determine her injuries, police say. She was determined to have suffered a superficial scratch to the front of her neck, a laceration on her left wrist, and a bruise on her left thigh, according to police.

Harris claimed that she had no memory of the last few days and did not recall reserving a campsite or traveling from Delaware County to the park. A CT scan performed on her did not indicate any head injuries, and Harris claimed not to be using alcohol or drugs, the criminal complaint states. 

She was released from the hospital after about 12 hours while the police investigation continued.

Through their investigation, police determined the cell phone found in the abandoned vehicle belonged to Harris. A search of bank records indicated a debit card in Harris' name had been used to make a digital reservation for the campsite, and receipts to a bank account in her name indicated the couple had traveled from Delaware County to York County on Friday, June 5.

A search of the iPhone, which Harris confirmed was hers, revealed a screenshot of the digital reservation for a campsite at Pinchot State Park and the following internet searches, according to police:

  • At 5:26 p.m. on May 30: "What percent of Murder in US is domestic violence"
  • At 10:55 a.m. on June 7: "Does antifreeze have a taste" (The antifreeze search was followed by several search terms and a review or URL links related to antifreeze poisoning, police say. A screenshot of how long it takes antifreeze poisoning to kill a human was found in the phone's gallery, police say.)
  • At 11:26 a.m. on June 7: "windpipe location" (The windpipe search was followed by Google images with a diagram of the upper torso, neck, and head area of a human, police say. The diagram specifically pointed to the trachea, also known as the windpipe. A screenshot of the diagram was taken by the user of the phone, police say.)