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August 29, 2018

Arrest made in Main Line slaying of former Playboy model

Investigations Homicide
08272018_ChristinaKraft_suspect Sources/Facebook and Montgomery County District Attorney's Office

Authorities in Montgomery County are seeking a person of interest captured on surveillance video (right) in the death last week of Christina Kraft, 36, of the Ardmore section of Lower Merion Township. Kraft's death is being investigated as a homicide.

A fleeing suspect was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with first degree murder in the death of Christina Kraft, the former Playboy model whose body was found last week at her condominium in Ardmore. 

Authorities in Montgomery County announced that Jonathan Wesley Harris, 30, was taken into custody following an investigation into information received from the victim's boyfriend and another concerned citizen. 

Lower Merion police responded to Kraft's condominium in the 100 block of Sibley Avenue around 9:15 p.m. last Wednesday. Officers forced entry into the property and located the victim's body in the bedroom, where sheets and a comforter were found with significant blood stains, according to police.  

An autopsy later determined that Kraft, 36, had suffered a fractured nose and died of ligature strangulation, suggesting some type of cord was deliberately used to kill her.

Surveillance video released on Monday singled out an individual who was seen walking with Kraft in Center City Philadelphia on the morning of August 22. Police later identified the man in the surveillance video as Harris, a former inmate who was released from the State Correctional Institution at Greene in July. 

Jonathan W HarrisSource/Montgomery County District Attorney's Office

Jonathan W. Harris.

During an interview with detectives, Kraft's boyfriend said he had last seen and spoken with her on August 20, after which he was unable to establish contact with her. An attempt to enter her apartment last Wednesday night was unsuccessful because the interior security bolt had been engaged. That's when Kraft's boyfriend called police to check on her welfare. 

A review of surveillance video and records from the ridesharing service Lyft revealed that Kraft left her apartment alone around 1:10 a.m. on August 22, met with a black man around Broad and Locust streets in Philadelphia, entered a vehicle with the man and returned with him to her condominium around 3:05 a.m. Both entered the elevator together and went off camera, police said. 

Kraft's boyfriend had told investigators that he was missing a white Banana Republic shirt and that the victim's cellphone, house keys and building key fob were also missing along with a Hermes handbag, according to a criminal affidavit. 

In the area surrounding the victim's condo, police later located Kraft's cellphone and the Banana Republic shirt with a blood stain on it. 

On Tuesday, investigators said a concerned citizen reached out to Lower Merion police to tell detectives that the man in the surveillance video appeared to be Harris. The citizen said Harris had recently gotten out of prison and had a sister living in Philadelphia. Harris was in contact with the concerned citizen during the early morning hours of August 22, investigators said. 

The following text messages were found on the cellphone of the concerned citizen, who gave detectives consent to obtain communications with the suspect. 

texts kraftSource/Montgomery County District Attorney's Office

Text messages provided to Lower Merion Police by a concerned citizen.

Entry and exit data from the front and back doors of Kraft's condo showed that the final exit was made at 5:19 a.m. on August 22. Surveillance video from the area of Sibley Avenue in Ardmore revealed that a black male walked beneath the terrace of Kraft's condo around 5:25 a.m. 

Harris was apprehended by police in Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon after fleeing Philadelphia. He will be brought back to Montgomery County to face the charges filed against him.