Sex Offender Charged in Year-Old Murder; Cops Point to DNA, Recorded Call, Poo Smell

Sex offender James Harmon was charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Pahokee woman nearly a year ago.

Among the evidence is a recorded phone call, some DNA, and a witness recalling that the dude "smelt like shit."

According to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office police report, a pedestrian found the body of 52-year-old Ophelia Redden face-down under a tree near a Pahokee subdivision on January 28, 2011. She was wearing only a bra and underwear and had "a large amount of feces" on her.

While the medical examiner discovered Redden's cause of death to be strangulation with a "contributory condition" of blunt force trauma to the head, the cops found out from a few people that the last people Redden was seen with were Harmon and a man named Charles Barber.

Harmon said he had nothing to do with it and went home around 10 p.m. that day.

On the other hand, another guy going to a convenience store at 2 a.m. said he saw Harmon jogging in the area of where Redden's body was eventually found and gave him a ride.

The man noted that Harmon "reeked of a disgusting odor."

Police say they interviewed Harmon's wife a couple of times, and she gave a couple of different answers as to when Harmon came home that night.

While in jail for an unrelated incident last year, the cops recorded the phone calls between Harmon and his wife.

According to the cops, one of those conversations consisted of Harmon's wife telling him that police knew he wasn't home when she said he was, and Harmon replied that he's "fucked" because she was "supposed to stick to the story."

Meanwhile, a DNA profile was made from the "non-blood like stains" from a towel found among Redden's belongings not far from her body.

Among the contributors to that DNA mixture on the towel were Harmon, his wife, and Redden, according to police.

By September, the case was turned over to a new detective, who reinterviewed all of the people involved.

Harmon's wife admitted to lying and confirmed that her husband didn't come around until around 2 a.m. that night, police say.

Another witness told the cops that about a week before Redden's murder, she refused having sex with Harmon, and he threatened to "take it" from her, the report states.

The detective asked the guy who gave Harmon the ride that night what he meant when he said Harmon "reeked of a disgusting odor," to which he clarified that he "smelt like shit."

The report says all of that information contributed to probable cause for Harmon's arrest for first-degree murder, which occurred at the Palm Beach County Jail yesterday -- where he's been for a while on a probation violation.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley