The Murders of Audrey Lynn Harris, Christine Dumont, & Stacie Goulet (Rhode Island)

During a nearly 18-month span beginning the winter of 2003, three women in Woonsocket, Rhode Island disappeared without a trace, leaving their families and investigators searching for answers. It wasn’t until detectives received an anonymous voicemail that the pieces finally came together in what would later be referred to as one of the most horrific homicide cases in the city’s history.

Audrey Harris

It was February 9, 2003 and Claudette Harris had just gotten off the phone with her 33-year old daughter, Audrey Lynn Harris. During that call, Audrey told her mother that she wanted to enter a rehabilitation program and she was on her way over to her mom’s house to talk more about it. She told Claudette, quote, “Ma, I’m going to come over and see you. I’m done with these drugs.” End quote. Then she hung up. Claudette waited for Audrey to arrive that Sunday night, but she never walked through the door.

One of the original investigators on this case, Edward Lee Jr. of the Woonsocket Police Department, co-authored a book about the case with Linda Rosencrance called Ripper. In the book, the authors lay out the first efforts by both Claudette and law enforcement to track Audrey down those first few days. Although it was concerning that Audrey never arrived that night when she said she was on her way over, Claudette did not immediately report Audrey missing.

Audrey was a mother to three children, though she did not have custody of her kids at the time. She did not have a permanent address and stayed between friend’s houses. She was known to use drugs and engage in sex work and at the time, she was on probation following her release from prison in January of that year for simple assault and battery and resisting arrest charges. The circumstances of Audrey’s life didn’t make it all that unusual for her to go MIA, but she always turned up and she always checked in with her family every few days.

So, Claudette decided to check in at the local bars where Audrey hung out but no one had seen Audrey in a while, and they didn’t know where she might be. Claudette hung up photos of Audrey in the areas she was most likely to be seen, along Arnold Street and Blackstone Street and Railroad Street in Woonsocket, but she didn’t get any calls. Eventually, Claudette went to the police to file a missing persons report.

The detective assigned to the case did some immediate footwork, following a similar path as Claudette, checking at local bars, asking around the streets where Audrey was a recognizable face to many people. One woman said that she hadn’t seen Audrey since the end of January, but she knew that Audrey was hanging out with someone who possibly worked at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI).

Rosencrance and Lee write that when police located the guy in question, he turned out to be the chief of Treatment Services for the Substance Abuse Division of the Rhode Island Department of Mental Health. I’ll call him by his first name, Kerry. Kerry had known Audrey for at least a decade at that point and he admitted that Audrey had called him on a few occasions since her release from prison in January for rides or help with one thing or another. He also admitted to letting Audrey stay the night at his place when she had nowhere else to go. He said he also had sex with her. Police asked Kerry if they could take a look through his house for any of Audrey’s belongings, but he refused.

It was suspicious…Kerry was Audrey’s counselor and he definitely crossed some ethical boundaries. Yes, he openly admitted to his inappropriate relationship with Audrey, but maybe there was something else he wasn’t disclosing to police. Maybe he had something to do with her disappearance.

At the same time, another viable lead in Audrey’s disappearance developed from a story that Audrey’s brother told police. Tim Harris said that he and his sister Audrey went to a party together one night and they used crack and talked. Sometime that night, he said Audrey called their mom and told her she was going to enter a treatment program. Later on, Tim said he decided to leave the party to grab some food but Audrey declined to join him. When he returned to the party, he found his sister slumped over asleep in the kitchen.

Tim helped Audrey move from the kitchen chair to the couch and helped her get comfortable before leaving the party again. When Tim got back to the house once again a few hours later, Audrey was gone. No one would tell him where she went, either. According to Lee and Rosencrance’s book, the other partygoers just got quiet when he asked what happened to his sister. That night was the last time he saw her.

The Woonsocket detective thought based on Audrey’s substance use that night and the condition she was in when Tim laid her down on the couch, it was possible she died on the couch and the other people at the party did something with her body. The detective tracked the party guests down and interviewed several of them, urging them to tell the truth and give Audrey’s family some answers. But the guests insisted they didn’t know what happened to Audrey that night. And it turned out that the party happened in late January. Claudette talked to Audrey on the phone on February 9, so the timeline was off.

The party lead was an obvious dead end, and it seems nothing further developed with the Kerry angle either. David McFadden reports for the Providence Journal that Claudette hoped to hear updates about Audrey’s case from Woonsocket Police for over 10 months. Even though Claudette was reportedly satisfied with the investigation and how police had handled the search for her missing daughter so far, she wasn’t a mother who could just sit and wait for something to happen. Claudette did whatever she could to find Audrey on her own, too.

She and friends printed missing persons posters and plastered them around the city. A local women’s group hosted a fundraising event so that Claudette could offer a reward for information in Audrey’s disappearance. Thanks to that effort, Claudette announced a $1000 reward for reliable information leading to the return or location of Audrey Lynn Harris. But the promise of a payday didn’t shake out any leads.

By November of 2003, neither police nor Claudette knew where to find Audrey. Investigators had exhausted all avenues, interviewed boyfriends and friends and acquaintances around town, and made sure her name, photo, and description were listed in an online database for missing persons, and yet no clues as to Audrey’s whereabouts had surfaced in nearly a year since that final phone call to her mother.

Meanwhile, within a few days of Audrey’s disappearance, a woman walked into the Woonsocket Police Department to report an assault she survived just minutes before. Investigators didn’t have any idea at the time that this report would be key to solving Audrey’s case, and the cases of two other missing women, almost a year later.

The stories of Audrey Lynn Harris, Christine Dumont and Stacie Goulet continue on Dark Downeast. Press play to hear the full episode wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode Source Material

  • Mother of missing woman hasn’t given up hope by David McFadden, Providence Journal, 19 Nov 2003
  • 3 missing Woonsocket women were killed, police say by Cathleen F. Crowley and Cynthia Needham, Providence Sunday Journal, 18 Jul 2004
  • Few details given about man linked to missing woman by Richard Dujardin, Providence Journal, 19 Jul 2004
  • Suspect in women’s deaths held by Tom Mooney and Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 20 Jul 2004
  • She survived encounter with suspect by Tom Mooney and Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 21 Jul 2004
  • Digging for evidence by Cynthia Needham and Elizabeth Gudrais, Providence Journal, 22 Jul 2004
  • State police join probe by Cynthia Needham and Tom Mooney, Providence Journal, 23 Jul 2004
  • Police find human remains at landfill by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 28 Jul 2004
  • Suspect’s dwelling shows results of police search by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 29 Jul 2004
  • Woonsocket man charged with killing of 3 women by Tom Mooney and Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 31 Jul 2004
  • Suspect in murders waives bail by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 20 Aug 2004
  • Body discovered in landfill identified as slaying victim by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 09 Sep 2004
  • An awful search: Digging in the dump for body parts by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 19 Sep 2004
  • Without a body to bury, family seeking closure by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 04 Dec 2004
  • Woonsocket man indicted on 3 counts of murder by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 11 Dec 2004
  • Mailhot pleads not guilty to killings by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 06 Jan 2005
  • A year after 3 women were slain, life goes on – as kin try to heal by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 16 Jul 2005
  • Court TV contemplating Mailhot trial by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 23 Sep 2005
  • City man’s trial in slayings of 3 women delayed by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 29 Nov 2005
  • The Mailhot Chronology by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 16 Feb 2006
  • Guilty pleas end ordeal by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 16 Feb 2006
  • On tape, Mailhot describes killings by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 23 Feb 2006
  • Forensics key in collecting evidence of serial murders by Cynthia Needham, Providence Journal, 06 Mar 2006
  • Tree to be planted for Mailhot victims, Woonsocket Call, 21 Nov 2012