By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
By Jeff Balke
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Ben DuBose
"We went there to see where they went," Lindsey later recalled. "When we got into the room, she was calm. She said, 'Well, I guess this is where they spent their time.' "
Clara looked out the window down at Windemere, the yacht club below. It was there, on Valentine's Day, 1992, that she and David were married. Clara soon wept quietly, finally overcome by confronting the fact that her husband and the woman she had so recently fired had likely made love in a room much like the suite she and his daughter had just left.
"I told her it was wrong," Lindsey said. "But I told her I still loved him."
David had told Clara that he would meet with Gail the next night to formally end the affair.
"She was kind of nervous about it. She had doubts," Lindsey said, of Clara. "She kept doing her hair and kept going shopping. She was nervous." Lindsey assured her stepmother that everything would be okay, but Clara continued to be stressed.
There was a good reason. David also had told his wife that he missed Gail Bridges.
Clara had enlisted Blue Moon Investigations to follow her husband that evening, but the private investigator had lost the couple, which triggered more panic in Clara. She had Lindsey drive to various places: Gail's home, Perry's steak house, then Tommy's Patio Cafe, the Kemah Aquarium and other former haunts of David's during his affair. They came up empty in their search.
"We were going to forget about it and go shopping," Lindsey remembered.
Then things changed with a telephone call. At 8:30 p.m., as the two were heading to a mall, a Blue Moon investigator returned the second of Clara's calls. David and a woman were at the Hilton, he reported. "They are on the fourth or sixth floor," the private eye said. "Be patient and you will get a full report tomorrow."
Lindsey could see the change come over her stepmother, but she could do little besides humor her. Clara Harris dialed her number at home. She told the governess, Maria Gonzalez, to pack her husband's best clothes in the couple's oldest suitcase and place them outside the door in the garage, and to throw the remainder of his clothes in the trash.
"Go back to the Hilton," Clara ordered Lindsey.
The desk clerk there denied that David Harris had checked in, because he had paid cash and not bothered with the formality of signing in. Lindsey and Clara walked to a guest parking area and didn't have to look hard. In the center of a small employee lot was the black Lincoln Navigator owned by Gail Bridges.
Clara Harris exploded, running toward the car. She grabbed windshield wipers and bent them, then scratched her car keys along the side of the luxury SUV and broke off the bottom of Gail's heart-shaped bumper hitch cover. Finally, Clara took the keys to her silver Mercedes-Benz and began to scratch the word "adulterer."
To get David out of the hotel room, Lindsey and Clara decided to call his cell phone and tell him that one of the children was ill and he needed to come home. "She was calm until she saw Dad and Gail come out," Lindsey remembered. David walked toward his wife and she began hitting his face. Trained in jujitsu, he easily averted the blows. Clara then locked eyes with Gail. Like a lioness on the Serengeti, she pounced, striking Gail in the face so hard that Gail's vision blurred as she was knocked to the ground. Clara grabbed Gail's hair and pounded her head into the hotel's marble floor repeatedly.
Gail's blouse was torn off, but she only recalled screaming for help, being nearly unconscious, and finally, Clara being pulled off her and held by several men. In a feat of almost superhuman strength, the dentist knocked the men aside and again slammed Gail to the floor. Clara crawled along the floor and bit Gail's leg as she called her a bitch and yelled that she was sleeping with her husband.
During the confrontation, Lindsey screamed "I hate you!" at her father while hitting him with her purse.
After the fight was broken up, the young girl sat cross-legged and crying on the hard concrete of the sidewalk outside the front door. Lindsey had heard her father tell Clara, "It's over." Finally, her stepmother led the girl by the arm and said, "Let's go," taking the keys to the Mercedes from her.
"She backed out," Lindsey remembered. "She wasn't saying anything. I knew that she was mad because she was red in the face, and she had this evil look on her face."
As Clara gunned the engine and roared the Mercedes down the parking lot, the teenager saw a Hilton employee dodge to get out of the way. "I was hoping that we were going home," she remembered. But Clara wasn't turning the car to the parking lot exits onto NASA Road 1, or to the street paralleling the tennis courts.
"Stop, go the other way," Lindsey shouted at her stepmother.