Jury hears man tell of ‘oath’ with slay victim

EVERETT — Eric Christensen had scratches on his face and a cut on his hand and thigh when police caught up with him at a doctor’s office in Monroe.

The detectives were looking for Sherry Harlan. The Everett woman didn’t show up for work and she hadn’t returned any phone calls or text messages. Harlan’s friends and family were worried.

Detectives asked Christensen if he knew where Harlan might be.

“I have no clue,” Christensen told police, “and I personally don’t care.”

A Snohomish County jury on Wednesday listened to the tape-recorded, hour-long interview Christensen gave detectives on Jan 6. Police believe that just a few hours earlier Christensen had torched Harlan’s car in an attempt to cover up a grisly murder.

The next day a search and rescue crew found Harlan’s car off Reiter Road outside Gold Bar.

Inside, detectives found Harlan’s skull and several knives. A few days later, a Gold Bar man led detectives to Harlan’s remains in several other locations in rural east Snohomish County. He told investigators Christensen admitted to killing Harlan and then solicited his help to dispose of her mutilated, dismembered body.

Prosecutors allege that Christensen, 40, killed Harlan on Jan. 2 after learning that she continued to communicate with an older man she had befriended on a social networking website.

Christensen is charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces decades in prison.

His attorney told jurors Tuesday that prosecutors don’t have any evidence that Christensen planned to kill Harlan.

He lied to police when he talked to them on Jan. 6 in a desperate attempt to hide the crime, said defense attorney Kathleen Kyle with the Snohomish County Public Defender’s Association. That is not evidence that he planned the slaying, she said.

Christensen told the cops he had tried to make things work with Harlan, but she had broken a promise. He wouldn’t tolerate her communicating with another man, not after she took a “blood oath.”

“I’m not a Christian. I’m a Wiccan and that would be like asking me to become (a Christian). I’m 100 percent totally for Chevys. It would be like asking me to love Fords,” Christensen told the detectives.

Christensen described the oath that he and Harlan took at her apartment in mid-December. He laughed at detectives as they tried to understand the different elements of the ceremony.

Christensen said Harlan vowed to stop seeing and taking gifts from the man. He explained that he wanted to salvage the relationship and the oath meant Harlan did too, he said.

Christensen recounted the morning he found out that Harlan continued to communicate with the other man. He told detectives he discovered the text messages on Harlan’s phone while she was in the shower.

He said he was “biting-nails mad, but I know how to control my anger. I know if it goes a little too far. I know exactly what my potentials are without even doing it.”

He told police he and Harlan had sex and then he confronted her about the messages. They got into a shoving match. He called her names and then left.

“So what are your feelings toward her now?” detectives asked Christensen.

“I hope Karma gives her what she deserves,” Christensen said.

“What do you mean by that?” sheriff’s detective Ted Betts asked.

“Well, she broke an oath,” Christensen said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Jesse Spitzer (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Wanted man fled from Gold Bar to Idaho, police say

Jesse Spitzer, 30, who has a history of violence against officers, is wanted for felonies in two states.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
‘White saviorhood’: Mukilteo schools end ‘Mockingbird’ requirement

The book is not banned in the school district. The last book brought before the school board was by Maya Angelou.

Police: Marysville Pilchuck student arrested for wielding knife

Neither of the students involved in the Wednesday morning fight was injured, police reported.

Police looking for Mukilteo bank robber, seeking tips

The man appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, white, slender, about 5-foot-8, with dark blond hair.

The tower of Paine Field Airport stands in a fog bank forcing flights to be averted or cancelled in Everett, Washington on January 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
More 5G-related cancellations as Paine Field fog persists

The FAA has not cleared certain planes to land in low visibility in Everett due to nearby 5G cellular towers.

Lynnwood Public Works employees on the snow plow crew sit in front of one of the city's two plows that will be named based on results of an online public vote. (City of Lynnwood)
Lynnwood snow plow names: Snowbi Wan Kenobi, Plowy McPlowface

They got the two highest votes in an online public survey by Lynnwood Public Works.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Despite Arizona move, Everett leaders expect Funko HQ to stay

The toymaker is closing Everett warehouses. But a recent “HQ2” expansion has the city confident Funko will remain rooted here.

Island County jail slammed with first COVID outbreak

Three cell blocks are in quarantine and about a third of the jail staff are out with COVID.

Registered nurse Estella Wilmarth tends to a patient in the acute care unit of Harborview Medical Center, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, in Seattle. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is deploying 100 members of the state National Guard to hospitals across the state amid staff shortages due to an omicron-fueled spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Inslee announced Thursday that teams will be deployed to assist four overcrowded emergency departments at hospitals in Everett, Yakima, Wenatchee and Spokane, and that testing teams will be based at hospitals in Olympia, Richland, Seattle and Tacoma. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Past the omicron peak? Snohomish County’s COVID cases declining

Hospitalizations are still a concern, however, and infections in Eastern Washington and Idaho could have ripple effects here.

Most Read