Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dead Couple's Marriage Explosive; Family, Neighbors and Police Detail a History of Violence between the Two

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dead Couple's Marriage Explosive; Family, Neighbors and Police Detail a History of Violence between the Two

Article excerpt

Byline: DANA TREEN and BRIDGET MURPHY

A history of domestic violence and a recent rape allegation tainted the marriage of estranged Jacksonville couple Wainworth and Shinita Harris before both died Monday in separate shootings police said they are investigating as a possible murder-suicide.

Investigators didn't confirm Tuesday that the slaying of 24-year-old Shinita Harris in a Westside shoe store or the discovery of her 41-year-old husband's body by the Intracoastal Waterway about an hour later happened at the man's hands.

However, family, neighbors and police records detailed an explosive relationship.

Police reports showed Shinita Harris told authorities this month that Wainworth Harris had in the past threatened her with a gun, threatened suicide and stalked her.

While neither husband nor wife applied for a restraining order against the other, according to city domestic violence files, records showed the wife was convicted of battering the husband after an August 2004 incident.

Police never charged the husband, although allegations of battery flew back and forth between the couple. They married in early 2004, according to family.

Shinita's sister, Lawanda Richardson, said Tuesday her sister was working at a nail salon Monday and fled to the shoe store next door before she was shot.

She also worked as a hotel clerk and was trying to save up to put a deposit down for her own apartment. Her sister moved out of the home in the 1200 block of Lila Avenue she shared with Wainworth Harris near the end of last year, Richardson said.

Richardson said she believed her brother-in-law was distraught about his wife moving out and having no one to help care for his young son who is dying of brain cancer.

"My sister took care of that child like he was her own child," Richardson said. It was the child, who was 4 when police arrested Shinita for battering her husband, that Richardson believes kept her sister with the man she married.

"My sister tried to make it work. When she found it wasn't going to work, she packed her stuff and moved in with mom," Richardson said.

Wainworth Harris' family said Tuesday it was their loved one's wife who instigated the violence.

Barrington Harris, Wainworth's brother, said his family found the Lila Avenue home ransacked when they went to the residence following the 41-year-old man's death Monday.

A window was broken, the big screen TV was smashed, and furniture was upended. The brother said he had a hunch the vandalism played into the shootings.

"That's what must have busted him out," he said of his brother.

Dave Samuels, Wainworth Harris' nephew, said the family should have tried harder to keep their loved one away from his estranged wife.

"My family members said to me she was a problem," Samuels said of Shinita Harris. …

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