The Tale of the Tape

How The Mercedes Murder Case Came To B eTaped

Even by outsized Texas standards, it was one of the most notorious crimes of passion in recent memory: Houston dentist Clara Harris killed her husband David, a prominent Houston orthodontist, because he was seeing another woman.

Harris' crime caught national attention both for what she did and for her weapon of choice, her Mercedes Benz. And it was all caught on tape, a videotape shot by a private investigator hired by, of all people, Clara Harris herself.

When Harris began to suspect her husband was unfaithful, it was no surprise that she turned to Bobbi Bacha, a 43 year-old mother of three who, though she hardly looks the part, runs a booming detective agency.

"We're one of the busiest investigation companies in this area," Bacha tells 48 Hours Investigates correspondent Susan Spencer.

Her offices at Blue Moon Investigations seem more suited to manicures than manhunt, but don't be fooled. It is well-known, especially in some of Houston's tonier neighborhoods.

"You do not have to be macho to be a good investigator," Bacha says. "It is such a myth. As a matter of fact, women are the best investigators."

Jeff Moore, Blue Moon's chief investigator, says cheating spouses provide a lot of the agency's business; he's seen hundreds of such cases.

Blue Moon got involved in the Harris one when Clara Harris, who didn't believe her husband's promise to end an affair with his receptionist, Gail Bridges, hired the agency to have the couple followed.

An investigator followed the couple to a local hotel and watched them enter from the parking lot.

Clara meanwhile, wasn't content to leave the sleuthing to the pros. She, too, tracked her husband down and confronted him and Bridges in the hotel lobby.

A scuffle broke out. Hotel security escorted all three of them to their cars. Witnesses testified that when Clara Harris got behind the wheel of her Mercedes, she floored it. Barreling through the parking lot, she clipped the rear of Gail Bridges' car and hit her husband, throwing him about 25 feet.

The she drove around the median and ran over his body three times.

David Harris was dead at the scene; Clara was arrested for murder. Gail Bridges was uninjured, except for her reputation.

Bobbi Bacha was stunned by the whole thing and even more stunned to realize she actually knew Gail Bridges.

Gail Bridges had been a target of an investigation Blue Moon had done earlier. Bridge's husband, Steve, had suspected her of conducting a lesbian affair with another woman but after looking into it, Blue Moon found that she was not.

Now, Blue Moon's videotape became a significant piece of evidence for the Clra Harris prosecution.

Bacha said Harris had been shocked to discover the murder had been videotaped. "The defense even tried to use it, arguing that it could show this was all just an accident," she said.

But the video spoke for itself. And the jury that saw it during two and a half weeks of testimony, took only seven hours to find Clara Harris guilty of murder and to sentence her to 20 years in prison.

While Clara Harris may have been Bobbi Bacha's most exciting case in some time, like any good private investigator, Bacha would just as soon conduct business in the shadows. And as long as people don't trust each other, Blue Moon will have no shortage of client.

"You know, people are humans," Bacha says. "And this has been going on since Biblical days. You can't stop it."

But as Clara Harris found out, now, you can get it on tape.

  • Mary-Jayne McKay

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