Walter and Carrlene Harper: Slain couple recalled as fun-loving, purposeful

Slain couple recalled as fun-loving, purposeful

San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA) - Thursday, September 9, 1993

As family and friends continue searching for answers to the killings of Walter and Carrlene Harper, the two were remembered yesterday as a fun-loving couple who embraced each day with purpose and a sense of adventure.

The Harpers, shot to death last week at the Borrego Springs home of a longtime friend, were honored by nearly 500 people who gathered at a La Jolla church to celebrate their lives while mourning their deaths.

"This tragic loss has had a profound effect on each and every one of us," neighbor John Elliott told the congregation of Torrey Pines Christian Church. "We are all overcome with grief and share a sense of righteous indignation over these events.

"But at the same time, we can feel a sense of enrichment, for we have all been privileged by our association with these two wonderful people," he said. "And as we move forward in our lives, let us draw on the example they have given us in marriage, as parents and as friends."

Edward Fletcher III, 65, member of a prominent San Diego family, is being held in Vista jail on two counts of murder. His bail was set at $2 million this morning in Vista Municipal Court.

Fletcher, who invited the Harpers to his desert ranch for the opening of dove-hunting season, is suspected of shooting the couple to death in his kitchen Aug. 31 after an evening of socializing. Sheriff's homicide detectives say they still have not determined a motive for the killings.

During the memorial service, Elliott and others spoke of the Pacific Beach couple's deep love for one another, and their zest for life and childlike curiosity of the world around them.

"They still had a lot of little girl and little boy in them," Elliott said of the couple, who were in their 60s and had been married for about 40 years. "One of Walter's most endearing qualities was his ability to be mildly irreverent without being offensive, and to be a little mischievous without being obnoxious. Most of the time, I think it was designed to get a reaction out of Carrlene."

The couple were retired and spent much of their time painting, sculpting, traveling and enjoying the company of friends, their two grown children and their grandchildren.

"We loved, laughed and played together," friend Dave Jack said from the altar. "We'll miss you both greatly, and shed lots of tears from time to time. But your spirits will live on in our souls and we'll always embrace you with silent hugs and kisses forever."

Son Grant Harper, a 38-year-old building contractor, was barely able to speak through tears as he described his love and pride for his parents.

"Both Lisa and myself have truly been blessed to have had Walter and Carrlene both as our parents and as our friends," he said, as his sister Lisa Henderson stroked his back in an effort to calm him. "Who we are today is a testimony of their love."

In an interview a day earlier, Grant Harper said he was frustrated with a criminal justice system that he contends is more concerned with defendants' rights than victims' rights.

"My parents weren't the only victims of this terrible crime," he said. "Any one who ever knew them also is a victim."