Washington state doctor to face Manhattan charges in bizarre 2018 poisoning of his ailing wife during NYC visit

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The road to an Idaho state woman’s Manhattan death was paved with her husband’s good intentions and bad medicine.

Dr. Jeffrey Harris, 57, who police say lives in Washington state, was due in a Manhattan courtroom Friday to face unspecified criminal charges in the bizarre Feb. 28, 2018, poisoning of his ailing wife, authorities said.

He was charged with manslaughter, police said Thursday night.

The death of Tammy Harris of Moscow, Idaho was declared a homicide eight months later in 2019 when an autopsy determined she died from an overdose of the dietary supplement Selenium — taken at her doctor husband’s insistence, according to a police source.

“He was a physician,” said Joshua Hubbard, 38, the victim’s son from a prior marriage. “He thought he could cure my mother, and what he was doing was wrong. It was a very confusing time ... Incredibly weird.”

NYPD detectives blamed the doctor’s hubris and bad judgement for his continued insistence on the Selenium treatment that killed 55-year-old Tammy Harris, the source said. The couple were married for 11 years before their fateful trip to New York.

Selenium, while considered safe in small doses and short-term use, can cause a variety of health issues from hair loss to kidney failure to “in rare cases death,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

The ill-informed Selenium treatment began shortly after another doctor treating the ailing wife suspected she was suffering from lupus, sources said. The victim’s husband, himself a doctor, refused to believe that was the correct diagnosis and began dosing her with Selenium supplements, a source said.

An autopsy by the city Medical Examiner found Tammy Harris had eight times the normal amount of Selenium in her system.

Prosecutors declined to say what charges out-of-state physician Harris was facing.

Hubbard said family members were aware of the doctor’s indictment and arrest, adding that his mother would not want to see her spouse behind bars, despite the grim circumstances. After her death, the doctor went “MIA” and refused to speak with family members, he recalled.

“I have no doubt that Jeff loved my mom incredibly,” said Hubbard, one of the victim’s three kids from a prior marriage. “He loved her deeply, almost to a fault. I do not believe that he intended to hurt her in any way.”

The couple had traveled to New York in search of a holistic doctor to assist the wheelchair-bound wife before she was hospitalized on Feb. 22, 2018, after falling unconscious at the Lott New York Palace hotel on Madison Ave.

The veteran nurse died six days after arriving at Lenox Hill Hospital, with NYPD detectives launching a lengthy investigation where they interviewed family, friends and other doctors to build a case against the doctor, the source said.

Hubbard said the doctor took his wife’s death hard and was dealing with his own demons in the aftermath. Yet he holds no animosity toward Harris.

“Nothing is going to get my mother back,” he said. “I have a lot of compassion for Jeff and I don’t know that I hold any anger against him. I would just like to see some closure on this so we don’t have to keep bringing it up and hashing it out.”

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