Keith Harward and the Bite Mark Case of Newport News

Flawed Forensic Science Leads to a 33-Year Long Wrongful Conviction.

Lori Johnston
13 min readApr 6, 2021


Newport News

Lying on the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula and on the northern shore of the James River, Newport News is the fifth most populous city in Virginia. It’s nearly 120 square miles, which includes 50 square miles of water, is divided into segments: Uptown, Northern Newport News and Downtown (also referred to as Southeast Newport News or the East End.) The city has fostered its share of celebrities, including Ella Fitzgerald, author William Styron, and NFL siblings Michael and Marcus Vick.

Newport News is home to Christopher Newport University, as well as Thomas Nelson Community College and The Apprentice School, a trade school operated by Newport News Shipbuilding.

Although one of the city’s major industries is aerospace, the military has a huge presence in Newport News. The Army’s Fort Eustis, off the busy Jefferson Boulevard and Fort Eustis Boulevard, is home to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, as well as the U.S. Army Aviation Logistics School and the 7th Transportation Brigade.

Shipbuilding, however, is its largest employer. In fact, Newport News Shipbuilding is the largest industrial employer in the state. The shipyards are located in the southern end of Newport News, where the facilities span more than 550 acres and its location makes it one of the great harbors of the East Coast.

While the shipyards brought many military families to the area, and helped to bolster the economy, the sometimes transient nature of the Navy also brought crime.

Rape and Murder

Jesse and Teresa Perron were an average Newport News family. Twenty-nine year old Jesse worked at the Shipyard as a welder, so the family resided in the 4900 block of Warwick Boulevard in southern Newport News, to keep Jesse’s commute as convenient as possible. The couple had three children and seemed to have a good, solid existence in September of 1982.

Monday, September 13, 1982 had started out like any other day for twenty-two year old Teresa Perron. She had taken the children swimming, a normal activity, but upon driving away from the pool, a hitchhiker in a Navy uniform cursed at her. Later that day, around 6 p.m., she was hanging clothing in her backyard when she she…



Lori Johnston

Writer, reader, margarita drinker. Currently looking for a “dare to be great” situation.