‘Calculated Killer’ who murdered former coworkers could get out of prison years early

Debbie Bell and Patty Eitel were both shot in the parking lot of their workplace, Jefferson Place, a nursing home on Herr Lane, by Kimberly Harris.
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 10:33 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2022 at 1:01 PM CST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A woman described as a cold-blooded killer could be released from prison after serving only a fraction of her sentence.

Kimberly Harris was granted a parole hearing at first chance by the Kentucky State Parole Board. On April 29, 1997, Harris was convicted of the murders of Deborah Bell, 46, and her coworker, Patty Eitel, 43, when Harris was 23.

Harris was a fired nursing assistant who was described as “mentally unstable” by coworkers, according to AP News.

“That day, it was pretty,” Cecily Bell, Deborah Bell’s daughter, said. “It was sunny, it was nice.”

“The day that it happened, I talked to Patty on the phone when she was leaving work,” Patty Eitel’s husband, Terry Eitel, recalled. “We argued about who was going to mow the lawn. We both liked to mow the lawn. She said she was going to make stuffed peppers for dinner, which was one of our favorites, and that was it .”

A few hours later, Cecily Bell and Terry Eitel’s worlds would crash.

“Two bloody sheets on the lawn of the nursing home, that you could tell there was a body under and all the coverage of it,” Terry Eitel said.

Debbie Bell and Patty Eitel were both shot in the parking lot of their workplace, Jefferson Place, a nursing home on Herr Lane. Harris approached the women, executed them, and shot them multiple times, despite Patty Eitel’s pleas for her life.

Witnesses described Harris kicking the victims before getting into her car and driving away.

“That’s when I broke down,” Terry Eitel said about finding out. “Grabbed a hold of my son, and God, what sorrow.”

“She was kind,” Cecily Bell said of her mother. “I had so many people stop me even today and tell me stories about how she and Patty changed their lives.”

“My mom was educated, she was sophisticated, she was my best friend,” she added.

Terry Eitel’s wife was his high school sweetheart.

“When they wanted to someone to entertain the residents,” he said, “she’ll show up in a goofy outfit, lead the karaoke. That was Patty. God, I miss her, I know that.”

Terry Eitel and Cecily Bell’s wounds have reopened after learning that Harris was granted a parole hearing by the Kentucky State Parole Board’s chairwoman, Ladeidra N. Jones, 25 years after the murders. Jones was appointed to the nine-member board of directors in 2019.

“I don’t think they should underestimate her ability to be dangerous just because she spent 25 (years) in prison,” Cecily Bell said.

The Parole Board is required to review the case by law, however, that does not mean they also have to grant a hearing.

“The Board is required by law to review Ms. Harris,” Ladeidra Jones, chairperson of the Kentucky Parole Board said. “501 KAR 1:030 (3) states, ‘A person confined to a state penal institution or county jail shall have his case reviewed by the Board in accordance with the schedules established in KRS 439.340.’”

The hearing will begin on Monday with testimony from the victims’ families. Harris is scheduled to testify on Wednesday.

Harris is being held at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Shelby County. She is now 48 years old and is eligible for parole on April 10.

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