Man Sought in Wife's Death Arrested

Wednesday, July 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) — A man sought in his wife's slaying was arrested while casually shopping in a discount store where he and she had been regular customers for years.

Athena Harvey's daughter found her body June 28 in her Wareham home, and an arrest warrant was issued for her husband, Earl. The 66-year-old woman had been stabbed and bludgeoned to death, and her body wrapped in sheets and plastic, with a rope around her neck. Authorities believe she had been dead for more than a week.

Harvey, 68, was apprehended without incident Tuesday evening at Savers, a discount store in New Bedford. The store manager had recognized him and called police.

``He just seemed like his normal self,'' said the manager, Ken Hedly. ``He walked right into the store. There was nothing different from his normal routine. He walked right back into our book department, and was looking through a book.''

Hedly said that the Harveys shopped at the store for years, often coming in on ``dollar days,'' and the staff was on a first-name basis with them.

On June 25, Harvey came in without his wife — a fact store employees noted at the time, Hedly said. Three days later, they were shocked to learn of the slaying ``because they seemed like such a pleasant couple growing old together,'' he said.

Court documents said that shortly before he disappeared, Harvey canceled his wife's haircut appointments, told friends the couple was going on vacation and cashed hundreds of dollars in checks.

The bank teller remembered seeing him on June 26 and 27, and thought it was odd that his wife was not with him, since the two were never apart, state police said.

Plymouth County District Attorney Michael Sullivan said he was not surprised that Harvey surfaced in the manner he did.

``He's 68, he doesn't have a lot of places to go. Everyone recognized that he was going to surface. It was just a matter of time,'' Sullivan said. ``It's difficult for people to completely disappear.''