Napa man arrested for Kentucky murder of NorCal CHP captain's husband

Investigation continues as CHP Captain Julie Harding was also found dead in Tennessee, months after her husband's murder.

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Thursday, December 15, 2022
Napa man arrested for murder of NorCal CHP captain's husband
A Napa man is arrested in the murder of Michael Harding, the husband of Yuba-Sutter CHP Captain Julie Harding whose death is also under investigation.

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- A Napa man is behind bars in Sacramento and officials tell us he will soon be transported to Kentucky to face a murder charge.

The victim in the case is the husband of a former California Highway Patrol captain who has since died.

The case is somewhat confusing but in the end, we have a married couple, who was technically separated, both dead; and a suspect from Napa now behind bars in connection to the husband's death.

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Law enforcement agencies in Kentucky believe that Michael Harding was murdered back in September. Michael had been married to California Highway Patrol Captain Julie Harding who worked in the Yuba-Sutter Area, north of Sacramento.

Friends say the two had been going through a bad divorce before Michael was found shot to death.

Kentucky State Police and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office confirm to ABC7 News that an arrest has been made in Michael's killing. Thomas O'Donnell of Napa was arrested last Thursday at Sacramento International Airport. Sacramento County deputies say he was in a terminal and about to board a plane when, with the help of the FBI, he was taken into custody and now faces a murder charge.

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Friends of Michael Harding are heartbroken saying that he was scared in the weeks before he was found shot to death.

"He was in fear for, you know his life as well, because his doors was chained up, they were propped up. So like you were trying to keep someone out," said Preston Cleary.

The same day murder suspect O'Donnell was arrested at Sacramento International Airport, Julie Harding, who was on leave from CHP, was arrested for criminal trespassing in Tennessee, and released the same day. Those in the area say she tried to take her husband's dog from his girlfriend's house. Two days later, Julie Harding was found dead with the cause of her death unknown, but no foul play is suspected in that case. It is unknown if she knew murder suspect O'Donnell.

"Mike was truly just a good hearted individual. I hope to just see this over with and Mike can finally rest in peace," said Cleary.

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