Loved ones of Sandra Harris attend killer Wiltse's sentencing - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Loved ones of Sandra Harris attend killer Wiltse's sentencing

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2-23-18 UPDATE:

KENNEWICK, WA - It's been more than a year since a 69-year-old Kennewick woman was murdered and dumped on the side of the road. 

It all started on the morning of November 18, 2016, when Theresa Wiltse took Sandra Harris against her will from her home in Kennewick. Then, a couple hours later, Harris's husband called police saying his wife had been kidnapped and he needed $250,000 for her safe return. 

Police and the FBI negotiated for hours and arranged a drop for the ransom money, but Wiltse took the money without bringing Sandra with her. Officers arrested her soon after. Just two days later, Sandra's body was found on November 20 on Coffin Road just south of Kennewick. 

It was an emotional day in the courtroom, after Wiltse was sentenced for murdering and kidnapping Sandra for ransom.

"It was cold-blooded murder right from the get go and there was no chance of Sandy ever being released," said Randy Harris, Sandra's husband. "The woman that brutally murdered my wife has been sent to prison for life without possibility of parole."

But it was a day that came with justice.

"That would be a life sentence."

Her husband looked straight at Sandra's killer - Theresa Wiltse - wondering why she would commit such a senseless act. Sandra's daughter also choked back tears trying to honor her mother.

"As Randy will tell you, the devil entered our home and took my mom, his lovely wife," Sandra's daughter said. "That is the beginning of the nightmare our family has yet to wake from."

And now all the family can do is move forward.


6-2-17 UPDATE:

BENTON COUNTY, WA - New court dates in the Theresa Wiltse murder case will push the trial into October at the earliest.

Wiltse is accused of kidnapping and killing 69-year-old Sandra Harris back in November.

The hearing today didn't last more than about five minutes. Attorneys said the dates needed to be pushed back because of the large amount of evidence that needs to be processed as well as finding a trial date that would work for all the witnesses.

And the prosecuting attorney told the judge today that if, for whatever reason down the line, October doesn't work for a trial, it will probably have to be delayed until 2018 because of attorney and judge scheduling conflicts in November and December.

Wiltse was in the courtroom this afternoon for the hearing, as was Sandra Harris's husband, Randy.

Wiltse pleaded not guilty to kidnapping Sandra from her home and murdering her in November.

Sandra's body was found a couple days later along Coffin Road south of Kennewick.


11-30-16 UPDATE:

BENTON COUNTY, WA- Theresa Wiltse appeared in a Benton County courtroom Wednesday morning for her arraignment.

Randy Harris, Sandra's husband. spoke with NBC Right Now after the proceeding. Harris claims he and his wife do not know Theresa Wiltse and he believes she acted alone in the murder case. Harris does not plan to speak publicly from here forward but says he will come to future court dates.


11/23/16 UPDATE: Theresa Wiltse has been officially charged with First Degree Murder and First Degree Kidnapping in the death of Sandra Harris.


11/22/16 UPDATE: An autopsy was performed on Sandra Harris at the Benton County morgue by Dr. Sigmund Menchel, a forensic pathologist from Bellevue.

The Cause of Death was determined to be the result of a gunshot wound. The number of wounds and locations will not be released at this time to protect the integrity of the investigation.

The Manner of Death is a Homicide.

As this investigation continues, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered.

Reporter Rex Carlin talked with Kennewick Police Sargeant Ken Lattin this afternoon and learned that Michael Wiltse, the husband of accused kidnapper Theresa Wiltse, is not being considered a suspect at this time.

When asked if they have interviewed Michael Wiltse, Lattin said they have spoken to everyone with close ties to the situation.

Police are still looking for any other people who may have been involved with the kidnapping and death of Sandra Harris.

Theresa Wiltse is still in Benton County Jail and her arraignment is scheduled for 8:30 tomorrow morning. We expect to learn more information tomorrow when the probable cause affidavit is released.


11/21/16 UPDATE: Theresa Wiltse was in court on Monday, November 21st at 1:30 p.m. Her bail was set at $1,000,000. She will be back in court on Wednesday, November 23rd at 8:30 a.m.

Court documents say the kidnapper of a Kennewick woman had the victim, Sandra Harris, call her husband and say they wanted $250,000 in exchange for her release.
Suspect Theresa Wiltse, 49, showed up to receive the money and was tailed and then arrested by Kennewick police last Friday night.
Court documents say blood was found in the back seat of Wiltse's vehicle, and that she confessed to being part of a plot to kidnap 69-year-old Sandra Harris. Authorities aren't ruling out additional suspects.
Harris' body was found Sunday along a rural road near Kennewick. An autopsy is scheduled for later this week.
Police say Harris and her husband, Randy, owned Ace Jewelry and Loan, a pawn shop in Kennewick.


UPDATE: KENNEWICK, WA - The Benton County Coroner has scheduled an autopsy for Tuesday afternoon to figure out time and cause of death of kidnapping victim 69 year old Sandra Harris.

Benton County Sheriff's Deputies say the body of Sandra Harris was located on Coffin Road, just 2 miles east of I-82. She was found by a passing motorist just before noon on Sunday November 20th, about 48 hours after her abduction.

Police say it is important to know that this was not a random act. The only suspect in custody, Theresa Wiltse, was known to Sandra Harris and her husband Randy Harris. The exact nature of how they are known to each other is still a part of the investigation.

Police say they are not ruling out the possibility that there could be another person or persons involved but do not have any specific persons that they are looking for.

Investigators still have much work to do in the case and the details that explain "why" this happened will come forth in court proceedings.

Wiltse is expected to appear in Benton County Court Monday afternoon.



KENNEWICK, WA- On 11/20/2016, at about 11:48 am, deputies with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call of a body found by a passerby off of Coffin Road, about two-miles east of I-82. 

Deputies arrived on scene and located a deceased, unidentified female lying in the brush, just off of the roadway, on the north side of Coffin Road. During the investigation, the Benton County Coroner’s Office identified the deceased female as 69 year old Sandra Harris. Sandra Harris was the kidnapping victim from the Kennewick Police Department’s kidnapping incident from Friday, 11/18/2016.

At this time it is unknown how the female died and this case is currently under investigation in cooperation with the Kennewick Police Department. Please refer any further questions to the Kennewick Police Department, Sergeant Ken Lattin.