Harris was a headmistress or something of one of those fancy private schools that are common back east. She was good at what she did and was a role model of sorts. During her off hours, she gave her heart to a cardiologist named Herman Tarnower. He was a never-married guy who authored a bestselling book called The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet. While Harris was madly in love with him, the cad was having a torrid affair with his office assistant, Lynne Tryforos.
Harris had been involved with the doctor for 14 years, but at 56 she was too over the hill for Herman Tarnower, who himself was pushing 70 years of age. Since Herman had no intention of marrying Jean, she felt like she was being pushed aside for somebody younger and fresher.
For somebody so accomplished, Harris felt like she was nothing without this jerk, that life wasn't worth living, and, according to her, she had planned to commit suicide. Then this happened:
She testified that by March 1980, she had decided to commit suicide and had bought the revolver. She drove from Virginia to Dr. Tarnower’s place, she said, so she could have a few quiet moments with him before she shot herself “at the side of the pond where there were daffodils in the spring.”
When she went upstairs, she testified, she found him in his pajamas asleep in his bedroom. She noticed Mrs. Tryforos’s negligee, hair curlers and jewelry and fell into a rage, she said, deciding to shoot herself right there.
When she drew the revolver out of her pocketbook, she testified, Dr. Tarnower tried to stop her by pushing her hand down, but the gun fired. They struggled again, and the gun went off a second time.
Mrs. Harris, however, could not account for two of the bullets. On Feb. 24, 1981, after eight days of deliberation, the jury of four men and eight women decided that she had murdered the doctor.
She spent some 12 years incarcerated and was a model prisoner. Upon her release in 1993, she decided to do some good in the world and set up a foundation to help children of women in prison.
Jean Harris was a far cry from narcissistic sociopath Betty Broderick though there were a few comparisons made between the two. The latter was and is a manipulative, cold-blooded murderer who deserves to rot in prison.