Murder of Dana Feitler and conviction of Lee Harris is questioned on Reasonable Doubt

Mugshot of Lee Harris
Lee Harris was sentenced to 90 years for the murder of Dana Feitler. Pic credit: Illinois Dept. of Corrections

Reasonable Doubt is investigating the case of Lee Harris, who is serving a 90-year sentence for the murder of Dana Feitler in Chicago, Illinois. Serious doubts have been raised about the conduct of detectives surrounding this conviction, particularly that of Det. Richard Zuley.

In the early hours of June 18, 1989, 24-year-old Dana Feitler was found in an alley in the well-to-do neighborhood of Gold Coast; the young woman had been shot in the head. She was still alive at the time and was transported to a hospital, but sadly, she passed away on July 9.

The cops uncovered a couple of receipts from her wallet, which indicated that just before she died, she had withdrawn $400 from two ATMs within a few minutes of each other.

A security guard told the police that they had heard a gunshot and had seen three men running from the alley moments before they discovered Feitler.

A friend had dropped Feitler off in front of her apartment half an hour beforehand. The cops concluded that a group of men had abducted her and forced her to withdraw the money before killing her.

The case hit the national headlines because many, at the time, were surprised that a young white girl from a wealthy and exclusive area of Chicago could have met with such a dreadful fate. The case also raised questions about the safety of ATM machines as they had only recently been installed in the city.

The police often use informants to help them with complex cases and on this occasion, they turned to Lee Harris, someone who had helped them with previous incidents. The family had offered a reward of up to $25,000, and Harris hoped to claim some of the cash.

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However, the cops soon turned Harris into a suspect. Defenders of the suspect claim that the cops twisted his words and encouraged him to constantly change his story to implicate himself in the murder. They claim Harris wanted to please the detectives, so told them precisely what they wanted to hear.

A key piece of evidence used against Harris was when an eyewitness – a dog walker – picked him out of a line-up. However, Harris’s defenders say this witness couldn’t have been in the same area as the murderers.

Lee Harris was found guilty of Dana Feitler murder

Harris was found guilty of murder and was put behind bars for 90 years. However, he still maintains his innocence and many people believe him.

Some aspects of the Chicago PD’s work at the time has been described as sloppy. It was reported that a neighbor told the police that on suddenly opening their garage door, they had spooked a suspicious-looking white guy who had been in the alley near where Feitler died. The police reportedly never followed up on this particular lead.

A key investigator on the case was Det. Richard Zuley, a man who has gone on to be a major source of controversy. His actions first became public when he was accused of using torture tactics while working for the Navy Reserve in Guantanamo Bay. This led to questioning of his tactics while at Chicago PD, and a number of his convictions have been investigated.

In 1990, Zuley had worked on the murder case that led to the imprisonment of Latherial Boyd. In 2013, Boyd was found to be wrongfully convicted and was set free.

More from Reasonable Doubt

Follow the links to read about more questionable convictions on Reasonable Doubt.

Glynn Simmons and Don Roberts were accused of killing Carolyn Sue Roberts during a hold-up at a liquor store in Oklahoma City. Many believe that the pair are innocent and that the cops felt under pressure to put somebody/anybody behind bars.

Kara Girvan was convicted of slaughtering three members of the Mollett family in their trailer in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. The cops say she was robbing drugs from the Mollett’s, but her family says she’s innocent.

Reasonable Doubt airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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