Man Beat, Strangled Model Inside Her Main Line Apartment, Officials Say

Jonathan Harris faces first-degree murder charges in the killing of Christina Carlin-Kraft inside her Ardmore apartment

What to Know

  • An arrest has been made in the murder of a former model in the Main Line.
  • Jonathan Harris, 30, faces murder charges in the death of Christina Carlin-Kraft.
  • Kraft was found strangled inside her Main Line condominium back on Aug. 22. No motive has been given for the killing.

A man accused of beating and strangling a former model inside her Main Line apartment is back in the Philadelphia suburbs to face a judge after allegedly trying to flee the state.

Jonathan Harris, 30, was arrested Wednesday in the death of Christina Carlin-Kraft, 36. Harris is charged with first-, second and third-degree murder as well as robbery. Officials also say he could face additional charges as they continue to investigate.

Harris, who hails from Johnstown, was taken into custody Wednesday after getting off a bus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, investigators said. He was allegedly trying to leave Pennsylvania.

He was initially taken the Allegheny County Prison. Lower Merion police then accompanied Harris back to the Philadelphia area overnight, NBC10's Deanna Durante learned.

Harris, wearing a blue prison jumpsuit and holding a copy of his criminal complaint, was arraigned via video from the Montgomery County Prison in Eagleville Thursday morning. Harris' only words were "yes sir" or "no sir" as Magisterial District Judge Michael Quinn read out the charges.

Since Harris is accused of murder, Quinn ordered that Harris be held without bail ahead of a September preliminary hearing.

Jonathan Harris. See larger photo here.

Kraft, a former model who posed for Playboy, was found strangled inside her upscale condominium near the popular Suburban Square shopping center on Pennsylvania's Main Line back on Aug. 22.

During the early morning hours of Aug. 22, Kraft left her apartment on Sibley Avenue in Ardmore and was dropped off by a Lyft driver on the 1400 block of Chestnut Street in Center City.

Kraft then met Harris near South Broad and 13th streets and the two entered a vehicle a short time later, investigators said.

Kraft and Harris then returned to her Ardmore building shortly after 3 a.m., according to officials. Records indicate the front door of the apartment opened at 3:08 a.m. while the back door leading to the terrace was closed at 5:19 a.m.

At some point that morning, a violent struggle occurred in the apartment in which Kraft was badly beaten and her nose was broken, investigators said. She then died from strangulation.

Police later found Kraft's body inside her bedroom around 9 that night during a wellness check. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Detectives combed Kraft's Ardmore unit and the complex for evidence. They collected surveillance video from nearby businesses. The complex sits adjacent to the Ardmore Farmers Market and Suburban Square.

Police later released surveillance video showing Kraft walking with a man in both Center City and the Main Line.

Surveillance images released by Montgomery County detectives
Surveillance images of a man later identified as Harris. See Larger

On Aug. 28, a concerned citizen contacted police and identified Harris as the man in the surveillance video, investigators said. Police searched through the person's phone and found a text from Harris. The text, which was sent on Aug. 22, at 2:39 a.m., reads "I just met this sexy a** white b**** I'm at her crib in ardmore," according to the affidavit.

The surveillance video and evidence gathered during the investigation led officials to issue a warrant for Harris' arrest.

Investigators say Harris had been released from state prison on July 15. He has an extensive criminal record including assault, theft and drug charges, according to online records.

Officials have not revealed whether Harris and Kraft knew each other prior to Aug. 22 or if it was a chance encounter. 

"I can't get into all of that," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said during an afternoon news conference. "I have not seen any indication that there was any previous relationship or anything along those lines."

Harris faces life in prison for the murder charges. No decision has been made, at this point, if Harris will face the death penalty. He also faces robbery and theft charges that could land him in jail for up to 50 year after police say he stole Kraft's purse.

Police are also searching for a man who they say is not connected to Kraft's murder but instead burglarized her apartment several days before her death.

An arrest warrant was issued for Andre Melton, 31, of Southwest Philadelphia. Police say Melton stole from Kraft's condo on Sibley Avenue and they continue to search for him. He is not considered a suspect or person of interest in her murder, however.

Christina Carlin-Kraft, 36, was found dead inside her Ardmore condo on Aug. 23, 2018. An autopsy found she was strangled. | See Larger

Kraft's modeling credits included Playboy, Maxim, David Yurman and MAC Cosmetics, according to a profile on a modeling website. In 2016, she was charged with assault in New York City for striking a restaurant staffer. The charges were later dropped.

Family remembered Kraft as "more than a Playboy model."

"She was the sweetest girl, loving and kind and generous and thoughtful," Kraft's aunt, Angelique Carlin, said. "Those are the things I will miss about my niece."

Harris' arrest occurred the same day as Kraft's funeral.

"I want to know what my poor niece was thinking, when he did this to her," Angelique Carlin said while in tears. "I want to know what her words were. I want to know what they are."

Only NBC10 talked to family members of a former model found murdered in her Mainline condo.
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