Suspect in 32-Year-Old Murder of Father and Son in Hamden Arrested

Hamden police have arrested a suspect in the murders of a father and son 32 years ago. 

On Wednesday morning, police arrested 52-year-old Willie McFarland, of New Haven, and charged him with the Aug. 21, 1987 murders of Fred Harris, 59, and his 23-year-old son, Gregory Harris, police said. 

The father and son were killed inside their residence at 655 Fitch St. 

At a press conference Wednesday police said McFarland and the two Harris men knew each other. According to court documents, the day of the murders Harris showed up at the home and asked to borrow a knife. When one of the victims handed the knife over, he forced his way into the home.

Both victims were tied up before being killed, and one was sexually assaulted, the documents state. The documents said McFarland stabbed both men in the chest and slit their throats.

McFarland had a criminal history and had just been released from jail the day before the crime, investigators said.

While serving time for another crime, McFarland confessed to the murders, according to the documents. He said he did it because he was looking for money and a gun he believed to be in the home.

Police said the case was one that stayed with them.

"It's one of the ones that once we retire and stuff, its one of those ones that you never forget. The father and son...what was surrounding it," said Hamden's Acting Police Chief John Cappiello.

McFarland has been charged with two counts of murder and he was arraigned at Meriden Superior Court Wednesday morning, according to police. 

He is being detained on a court-ordered $2 million bond. 

Last year police began investigating the case again with the assistance of the New Haven State's Attorney's Office. Advances in DNA technology that didn't exist in 1987 helped them make an arrest.

"It's very gratifying for us. I was on the job. Captain Smith was on the job and worked the case over the years. It's one of those things that, you don’t let them go. This was a heinous crime," said Cappiello.

Police said McFarland is a registered sex offender, convicted for two sexual assaults shortly after the killings. One of those sexual assaults happened just hours after the killings.

McFarland was in prison for the previous conviction until 2011.

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