The biggest reveal during the first Republican gubernatorial debate Monday night came from businessman Harry Wilson, who suddenly mentioned that the 77-year-old father of a cousin’s ex-wife was stabbed to death in his backyard last Thursday.

The personal tale came as Wilson slammed elevated crime and lax Empire State criminal justice policies since bail reform.

“My cousin’s father was murdered in his backyard,” the Republican gubernatorial candidate said on the debate stage Monday night, choking up when asked by CBS-2 moderators how crime has personally impacted his life.

His campaign told The Post Monday that the elderly relative, John Lee of upstate Gloversville — the father of his first cousin’s ex-wife, Tammy, with whom Wilson remains close — went to investigate a fire that had started, but the killer stabbed him and cut his throat.

John R. Lee
John Lee was stabbed in throat in his own backyard on Thursday.
Betz, Rossi Bellinger & Stewart
Police respond to murder scene of John R. Lee
Authorities respond to Lee’s stabbing death on Thursday.

Separate reports show Thomas J. Quillan, 47, was arrested in Lee’s killing and arraigned on Friday on the charge of second-degree murder. He was remanded to Fulton County jail, according to reports.

“It was by a monster who’s out on cashless bail upstate, who had committed to assaults in recent weeks and set a fire in his backyard to draw him out, and then stabbed him to death on Thursday night,” he said.

“She said: You have to get elected. You have to fix this problem and I’m gonna do everything in my power to do it,” Wilson described of the phone call with cousin Tammy.

He argued Democratic lawmakers — who championed the 2019 bail reforms and then amended the law this spring have failed to keep New Yorkers safe.

“They’re not spending time to think about victims,” he said.

“People like my cousin’s father, who was 77 years old and a good man and married 50 years. His wife was inside when he was killed.”


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