California police captain dead after arrest in husband’s slaying

Posted at 10:32 AM, Dec 18, 2022

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The body of a California Highway Patrol captain was found just days after a man was arrested in the shooting death of her husband in Kentucky, investigators said.

Julie V. Harding, 49, a commander with the highway patrol, was found dead Saturday at a home in Celina, Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. A statement from TBI did not say how she died, but authorities believe no foul play was involved.

Police have not said whether there is a connection between Julie Harding’s death and the fatal shooting of her husband, Michael Harding, who was living in Celina, Tennessee, and went missing in September.

Michael Harding’s body was found Sept. 26 in a home in Burkesville, Kentucky, near the Tennessee line. Michael Harding, 53, had been shot to death, according to Kentucky State Police.

An investigation by state troopers in Kentucky along with the FBI and Tennessee authorities led to the arrest of 60-year-old Thomas O’Donnell, of Napa, California, on Dec. 8. O’Donnell was charged with murder in Michael Harding’s death, Kentucky State Police said.

O’Donnell was arrested at the Sacramento airport, according to online booking records of the Sacramento County Sheriff. He is in jail in California and awaiting extradition to Kentucky to face the murder charge, Kentucky State Police said.

Julie Harding was arrested for trespassing at a home in Tennessee two days before her body was found, according to media reports. She was jailed and released.

The California Highway Patrol said in a statement that Harding was on leave at the time of her death. She has worked at the department since 1999 and had been commander of the Yuba Sutter area office since 2018.

An autopsy is being performed on Julie Harding’s body in Nashville.


Associated Press writer Stefanie Dazio contributed to this report from Los Angeles.