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Police: Pinchot State Park killer searched Google for 'windpipe location'

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

State police have arrested the person they allege is responsible for Monday night's homicide at Gifford Pinchot State Park in Warrington Township.

Troopers took Jolie Danielle Harris, 39, of School House Lane in Broomall, Delaware County, into custody on Thursday, according to Trooper Kelly Osborne, a state police spokesperson, who said Harris will be charged with homicide.

Harris is accused of killing 37-year-old Lauren Gallagher, also of School House Lane in  Broomall. Gallagher's cause of death was sharp-force trauma to the neck, York County Coroner Pam Gay has said.

"Sharp-force trauma" means wounds inflicted with a knife or other sharp weapon or object.

Osborne confirmed for The York Dispatch that Harris and Gallagher went camping together at Pinchot Park.

Charging documents indicate the two were a couple for several years and had been living together for about two years.

Before Gallagher was found dead, state police had searched for the woman in the area of the park campground after park rangers reported finding a vehicle abandoned at the women's campsite, documents state.

Jolie Danielle Harris

The women arrived in York County on Friday and were supposed to have checked out from their Pinchot campsite by Sunday, but their belongings were still there, as was their vehicle, according to police.

A dead dog and Harris' cellphone were found inside their car, according to charging documents.

State police canvassed the park, with help from Summit Search and Rescue's K-9 tracking team, but the women couldn't be found, police said.

Found under blanket: A short time after police wrapped up their search, a camper found Gallagher and Harris in the woods within the campground area, according to Osborne.

Both women were under a blanket and Harris told the camper that they had been attacked by unknown assailants and that she needed help because she was bleeding "everywhere," documents state.

Harris was taken to York Hospital, where she was treated for superficial wounds and released less than 12 hours later, according to police. A hospital examination determined she did not suffer a head injury, according to documents.

Gallagher was pronounced dead at the scene. She suffered a large bruise on her head and her windpipe had been cut, charging documents state.

Harris claimed to have no memory of what happened or of making reservations to camp at Pinchot Park, which were made "using her email address, debit card and contact information," according to documents.

Homicide victim Lauren Gallagher

Suspicious searches: On her cellphone, police discovered that on May 30 Harris or someone using her phone searched the internet for "What percent of Murder in the US is domestic violence," charging documents allege.

On Sunday, someone used Harris' cellphone to search the internet for "Does antifreeze have a taste" and "windpipe location," according to documents.

"The windpipe search was followed by Google images containing a diagram of the upper torso, neck and head area of a human," charging documents state. "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."

There was also a screenshot taken of a web page that provided information on how long it takes antifreeze to poison a person, according to police.

Bloody razor, rock found: No one at the park reported hearing any yelling or arguing, police said.

Investigators found part of a geode, or a rock with crystallized minerals, at the scene, and it appeared to have dried blood and hair on it, documents state. They also found a razor knife that appeared to have dried blood on it, police said.

"The scene was unremarkable as there was no evidence to suggest a struggle occurred," charging documents state, and no evidence was found to suggest someone besides Harris and Gallagher were at the campsite.

About the victim: A Delaware County native, Gallagher held a bachelor's degree in business and was working toward her master's degree, according to her obituary.

The obituary describes her as a self-employed author.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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