Episode 31 – The Murder of Lee Harvey
On the 1st of December, 1996, at around 10:45 PM, a man named Richard Maine left Keeper’s Cottage in Coopers Hill, Alvechurch and was just about to get into his car when he heard some alarming noises nearby. It was the sound of a commotion mixed with a woman’s calls for help. As Richard walked closer, he saw a young woman standing by the driver’s door of a car covered in blood from head to toe. At her feet on the country road lay a man also covered in blood, but unlike the woman, he was totally still and quiet. In horror, Richard ran to call for help.
Once the authorities arrived at the scene, nothing could be done for 25-year-old Lee Harvey—he was pronounced dead at the scene. His fiancée, 27-year-old Tracie Andrews was taken to the hospital where she was treated for minor injuries, including a black eye. But before she was taken, Tracie told the officers what had happened. She and her husband-to-be had fallen victims to a brutal road rage attack.
The subsequent autopsy seemed to confirm someone had felt an illogical rage toward Lee. He had been stabbed altogether 42 times, all over his body—the killer had severed Lee’s carotid artery and jugular vein, meaning he had no way of defending himself due to the amount of blood loss in a matter of seconds. It was a miracle Tracie made it out of the senseless attack alive.
Less than two days after the death of her fiancé, on December 3, 1996, Tracie appeared at an emotional police press conference, still bruised from the blows she suffered from the killer. Sitting there alongside Lee’s parents and holding her mother’s hand, Tracie explained the events of that fateful night to the public. On that Sunday, Tracie and Lee had gone for a drink at the Marlbrook pub in Bromsgrove. Once they left in Lee’s white Ford Escort RS 2000, another vehicle, a tatty, dark F-registered Ford Sierra began to follow the couple along a dark country road. Apparently, something in Lee’s driving angered the other driver, as he began to flash his lights, drive bumper to bumper and showed signs he wanted the couple to pull over. Eventually, as Lee didn’t react, the other vehicle overtook his car and forced him to stop just about one mile from his and Tracie’s home.
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Tracie continued the story at the press conference, saying Lee got out of the car and that “there was some sort of argument going on.” After a while, it appeared as though the situation was calming down as the driver returned to his car—but for reasons unknown, the passenger of the Ford Sierra then got up again, walked to Lee and began stabbing him repeatedly. When Tracie attempted to help her fiancée, she was insulted and punched in the face. By the time Tracie was back on her feet, the Ford Sierra was gone and, as she described: “Lee was making a funny noise like a gurgling noise.” She continued:
“I held him, I cradled his head and was just thinking of anything I could do for him. I had taken a first aid course and tried to stop the flow of blood. I went into a state of shock.”
But there was nothing anyone could have done to save Lee.
According to Tracie, the person who attacked them, the passenger of the Ford Sierra, was a large man in his mid-twenties with “staring eyes” wearing a dark donkey jacket. To Tracie, it appeared as if this man had taken something, perhaps something stronger than alcohol due to the fact that “he didn’t look normal.” Strangely, Tracie mentioned during the press conference that the driver of the killer’s car was not to blame—apparently in hopes that he would help bring the passenger, the person responsible for Lee’s death to justice.
Finally, once Tracie finished her story with tears in her eyes, the police pleaded to the public for any information about the Ford Sierra and any witnesses that had seen Lee Harvey’s Ford Escort that night to come forward. The investigators found themselves pleased when several witnesses soon contacted them, eager to share what they had seen. The only problem was that none of the statements matched the story of Tracie Andrews.
One of the witnesses was a child who lived just across the street from the crime scene. According to her, she had indeed heard an argument that night, but the only voices present were that of one man and one woman. Another witness told the investigators they had seen Lee’s Ford Escort drive past them on the rural road—but there were no other vehicles in sight. Furthermore, police failed to track down anyone who would have seen the alleged chase or even just remembered seeing a Ford Sierra that night. Despite the fact the incident took place in a remote location and late in the evening, there had still been other witnesses present so the authorities found it strange nobody had seen the second vehicle.
But the thing is, it wasn’t after the witnesses came forward that the investigators first started to doubt Tracie’s story of the events. It was at the very same moment they first lay their eyes on the crime scene. First of all, Lee’s car had been neatly parked on a narrow single-lane country road without any signs of the chase that supposedly took place. If the other vehicle had really overtaken the couple, there should have been tire marks on the grass on the edge of the road. But there was absolutely nothing suggesting the other vehicle was ever there.
Another thing that bothered the police was the timeline and more specifically how Tracie had utterly failed to offer Lee medical assistance or get help for almost 10 minutes after the alleged attack. Although Tracie claimed that she was holding Lee and trying to stop the blood flow when Richard Maine saw her, Tracie was standing over Lee, next to the car. Tracie also didn’t mention anything about the second vehicle to Richard. The deeper the investigators dug, the more details of Tracie’s story just didn’t add up. Just a day after her emotional press conference, the police had enough evidence to question Tracie as a potential suspect in her fiancé’s murder. That very same day, Tracie was rushed to Alexandra Hospital after taking a cocktail of paracetamol, aspirin and tranquillisers in an apparent suicide attempt.
The overdose, however, didn’t delay the inevitable for long. After two days, on December 7, 1996, Tracie was in good enough shape to be released from the hospital. She was immediately arrested in connection with the murder inquiry into her fiancé’s death and questioned. But no matter all the holes punched in her story, Tracie still held tight to her narrative of a road rage attack and became so distressed during the interview she needed to be hospitalised again. If Tracie’s uncooperative did something, it further convinced the police of her involvement in Lee’s murders—they just needed to put together enough physical evidence to ensure the jury thought the same.
Tracie Andrews was eventually charged with the murder of Lee Harvey on December 19, 1996, While she awaited trial free on bail and continued her pleas to the public to find “the real killer”, the investigators and prosecution continued to build a case against her. In the end, it was disturbingly clear all the police and public had witnessed from Tracie since the death of her fiancé, was nothing but an “Oscar-winning performance.”
The trial began at Birmingham Crown Court in July 1997. The jury was told about Tracie and Lee’s tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship, which had started in 1994. After just three months, the couple had moved in together despite the fact they had frequent fights and were clearly not the best fit for each other. Both Tracie and Lee were possessive and jealous and arguments over third parties sometimes escalated into violence. Police were called to the couple’s house more than once and Lee had told his family members about Tracie’s explosiveness. Several relatives, including Lee’s mother Maureen, urged him to end the relationship—if for nothing else than for his young daughter. Lee had a daughter from a previous relationship as did Tracie but their turbulent household wasn’t exactly child-friendly.
But as it often goes, the couple didn’t listen to others’ advice and eventually got engaged a year before Lee’s untimely death. That, however, didn’t make things any better. Lee and Tracie’s neighbour testified that on the day of the murder, she heard the couple arguing just like she had heard many other days before. When Lee and Tracie left for the pub that evening, the argument continued and was still going on when the couple later got back into the car and began their short journey back home. According to the prosecution’s version of the events, the fight got so bad Lee had to pull the car to the side of the road and get out to continue the match outside—it was then that Tracie attacked him with a penknife.
The murder weapon was never located, but during the investigation, the police discovered a bloodstain inside Tracie’s boot which matched the shape of the knife. It was theorized Tracie hid the murder weapon inside her boot after the attack and got rid of it while she was treated at Princess Alexandra Hospital—it had been noted Tracie spent an oddly long time in the bathroom that night.
The forensic team had also found a clump of Tracie’s hair in Lee’s right hand and determined that the blood on her clothes had been sprayed onto her as if she was on the way when an artery was severed—so, Tracie’s explanation of her holding Lee while he was bleeding out didn’t match the pattern. Blood spatter was also found at the back of Lee’s car, although Tracie claimed he had been attacked at the front.
But despite the mountain of evidence piling against her, during her three-day testimony, Tracie told the same story about the Ford Sierra and fat male passenger with “staring eyes” who killed Lee. At this point, Tracie’s family still stood behind her—so much so that they even, according to neighbours, held a “premature celebration” party anticipating a not guilty verdict.
That party really was premature. Tracie Andrews was eventually found unanimously guilty of the murder of Lee Harvey on July 27, 1997. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that she serve at least 14 years. Since then, Tracie’s press conference appearance filled with ‘crocodile tears’ has become infamous—a chilling example of how a person who had killed her fiancé hours earlier can sit down and lie to the world.
Tracie finally admitted there never was a road rage attack in April 1999 saying she just made up the whole story. But although Tracie acknowledged she was the one who killed Lee, she claimed she stabbed her fiancé in “self-defence.” In self-defence… 42 times..
Despite Lee’s mother, Maureen Harvey’s wish never to see Tracie Andrews have a life outside prison, she was eventually released in July 2011. She has since changed her name and undergone plastic surgery to alter her appearance to escape her past. But to Lee’s parents, there is no escape, as they told Birmingham Mail:
“Some might say Tracie has served her time and deserves a second chance but she’s ruined our lives. There is no second chance for Lee or for us. We are serving life sentences until the day we die.”
Host – Rhiannon Doe
Voiceover – Kwesi
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