Officer Found Dead Days After Her Husband’s Murderer Was Arrested

Several days after a man was arrested in the shooting death of her husband, investigators found the body of a California Highway Patrol captain.

CHP commander Julie V. Harding, 49, was found dead Saturday at a home in Celina, Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. TBI did not provide details about how she died, but authorities do not suspect foul play.

The police have not yet said whether Julie Harding’s death is related to the fatal shooting of her husband, Michael Harding, who went missing in September while living in Celina, Tennessee.

The body of Michael Harding was found Sept. 26 near the Tennessee border in Burkesville, Kentucky. According to Kentucky State Police, 53-year-old Michael Harding was shot to death.

A joint investigation by Kentucky, Tennessee, and FBI authorities led to the arrest of Thomas O’Donnell, 60, on Dec. 8. Kentucky State Police charged O’Donnell with murder in the death of Michael Harding.

Based on online booking records of the Sacramento County Sheriff, O’Donnell was arrested at the Sacramento airport. Kentucky State Police said he is in jail in California awaiting extradition to Kentucky to face murder charges.

According to media reports, Julie Harding was arrested for trespassing two days before her body was found. The woman was jailed and then released.

In a statement, the California Highway Patrol said that Harding was on leave when she died. In 2018, she was appointed commander of the Yuba Sutter area office, where she has worked since 1999.

Currently, an autopsy is being conducted on Julie Harding’s body in Nashville. Investigators hope that this autopsy will reveal more about her cause of death, as well as make any necessary connections to her husband’s premature death.