(Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.)
A Grayson County grand jury indicted Breana Rachelle Harmon, 19, of Pottsboro on four charges, including three felonies, Wednesday related to false reports of kidnapping and sexual assault she made earlier this year in Denison. In March, Denison police arrested Harmon after she allegedly admitted to fabricating a story regarding her kidnapping and rape by three black men.
An indictment is a formal charge and not an indication of guilt.
“Ms. Harmon was originally arrested for the misdemeanor offense of false report to a peace officer,” Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown said in a press release Wednesday. “However, the more we have looked at what happened in this case, and considered the harm it caused, and certainly could have caused, we believe what she did fits these higher charges. What she did was very serious, and we believe it was felony conduct.”
In addition to the criminal charges, the Denison Police Department is seeking $8,000 in restitution related to the case, Denison Police Department officials said Wednesday.
Harmon was indicted on two third-degree felony counts of tampering with physical evidence and a third-degree felony count of tampering with a government record. The fourth charge is a state-jail felony count of tampering with a government record.
The three third-degree felonies are punishable by two to ten years in prison and put to a $10,000 fine. The state-jail felony is punishable by up to two years in state jail and a $10,000 fine.
Under the initial Class B misdemeanor charges, Harmon would have faced up to 180 days — six months — in jail and up to a $4,000 fine, Denison Police Chief Jay Burch said previously.
The two charges of tampering with physical evidence stem from two different interviews where officials say that Harmon knowingly gave false reports “with the intent to affect the outcome of the investigation.”
In the state-jail felony charge, the DA’s office alleges that Harmon “had the intent to defraud the Denison Police Department and with that intent, caused a false entry to be made in the official police report by making her false statement to investigators.”
This is also a third-degree felony offense if the government record is a written report of a medical expert regarding an examination “for the purpose of determining the connection of the evidence to a criminal action.”
“In this case, count four of the indictment against Ms. Harmon alleges that her false statement to a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner caused the nurse examiner to make a false entry in a government record — the SANE report,” the press release said.
The charges are currently pending with the 15th District Court. Officials with the DA’s office said there was no notice on file of an attorney representing Harmon.
A call by the Herald Democrat to a number previously known to belong to Harmon was unanswered and the voicemail box was full.
The complaint against Harmon alleges that the Denison Police Department responded to a report of a missing person at 5:11 p.m. on March 8 at the Creekmore Apartments. Officers responding to the location learned that Breana Harmon, previously identified as Breana Talbott-Harmon, was missing and the door to her vehicle was open. Personal items, including her phone, keys and a shoe were found on the ground next to the vehicle.
A neighbor reported seeing Harmon walking her dog and smoking a cigarette near her apartment around 3:30 p.m. At about 5 p.m. the same neighbor was contacted by Harmon’s fiance, Samuel Hollingsworth, and was asked to check up on Harmon.
In the complaint, Hollingsworth told investigators that he had seen Harmon earlier that day and had previously given her a black pocket knife and pepper spray to use for self-defense. Hollingsworth told investigators that Harmon previously told him she heard about sex trafficking in Grayson County.
In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Hollingsworth said he was no longer with Harmon and was trying to move on with his life after the incident. He added that he never got an answer from Harmon on why she fabricated the incident.
“Really, all I can say is I don’t want any involvement with her at all,” he said. “I just want to move on with my life. That part of my life is dead to me.”
At about 8 p.m. on that March Wednesday, DPD received a call that woman matching Harmon’s description walked into the New Creation Church located at 3400 Eisenhower Pkwy. Officers contacted Harmon who told them she was kidnapped by three black males wearing ski masks. She said she was taken to a wooded area where she was assaulted and raped by two of the three suspects while the third held her down. The Crisis Center was alerted and the Sexual Assault Response Team was alerted.
During initial searches of a dirt road Harmon said she ran from, investigators located a black folding knife and a pair of white-and-green socks. Hollingsworth later confirmed that this was the same knife he had given Harmon.
At Texoma Medical Center, Harmon said she was walking to her vehicle to retrieve school items when she was grabbed by the three suspects and put into a black SUV and transported down a bumpy road. After being removed from the vehicle Harmon said she was raped by two suspects while the third held her down. Harmon told investigators after the sexual assault the suspects told her that if they caught her, they would do it again.
Harmon said she ran through the woods and ended up at the church. Harmon said she received superficial cuts and abrasions from a knife while struggling to get away from her attackers. In the report, investigators said the wounds were not consistent with those that would be inflicted by a knife in a violent struggle.
On March 9, officers searched the woods near where Harmon said she escaped and found a pair of “Miss Me” jeans near a dilapidated house; about 25 yards from where the knife and socks were located. Investigators identified a long, vertical cut on the front of the jeans with small blood stains on the fabric. Investigators also located two smoked Marlboro cigarettes, including one with a blood stain, and a Marlboro cigarette pack containing one unsmoked cigarette. Dried blood was also observed on the concrete foundation of the dilapidated house and on both sides of a broken piece of glass at the scene.
Following the SANE exam, the nurse advised that there was no physical evidence of a sexual assault taking place and in her professional opinion it did not occur.
During the initial investigation, DPD investigators asked Harmon for written consent to conduct a forensic search of her cellphone. The search, which was conducted by the Sherman Police Department, found that Harmon deleted Snapchat, a popular smartphone messaging program, shortly before Harmon claimed she was abducted.
During follow-up interviews, Harmon could not answer why the cuts in the jeans did not match up to wounds on her thighs. Harmon told investigators that she thought the blood was transferred to the evidence when she ran through the woods.
Harmon goes missing, again
On March 15, DPD was dispatched to the home of Harmon’s parents, who advised that she had been missing since early in the morning. Harmon left a note advising that she was fine and was “going to do what needed to be done and not to worry.” Phone records found that Harmon called a number belonging to Tyler Steele at about 3 a.m. At his residence, Steele told investigators that Harmon was hiding in his truck. She was found nearby hiding in the bushes. Harmon told investigators that she was fine and just needed a break.
The following day, Steele told investigators that Harmon was his girlfriend and that they had sex on March 15. After searching his phone, investigators found a Snapchat photo dated March 15 that showed Steele and Harmon lying in a bed. In text messages to Steele, Harmon told him that her engagement was not going well and that her parents were starting to doubt her story.
Steele also said Wednesday that he and Harmon are no longer together, and they had only spoken once in the past month. Steele said he and Harmon had gotten together about two weeks after the incident and he felt he was not a part of the investigation and had no insight into it.
Steele said he had no hard feelings for Harmon, and didn’t want her to suffer any more than she already has through this ordeal.
“She has a big mess going on right now,” he said.
On March 21, Harmon confessed to filing a false report. Harmon said she had gotten into an argument and decided to go for a walk. In follow-up interviews, Harmon said she and Hollingsworth had been fighting recently and she knew the relationship was not going to last.
During the walk, Harmon ended up at the dilapidated house. Harmon told investigators that “things from her past started going through her head and she began cutting herself and her jeans.
Harmon said she then began to worry that her mother would be upset with her for cutting herself and made up the story of being abducted to cover it up. When she was asked by people at the church if she had been raped, Harmon said she shook her head without thinking because she didn’t want her mom mad at her.
Though no one was arrested due to the false report, Burch said damage may still have been done to the community from the Harmon hoax. Earlier this year, Burch said hoaxes like Harmon’s can damage a city’s reputation and cause undue tension in the community.
“Breana Harmon-Talbott’s hoax was also insulting to our community and especially offensive to the African-American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax,” Burch said, previously. “The anger and hurt caused from such a hoax are difficult and all so unnecessary.”