BYRAM, N.J. (WWNY) - The New Jersey Herald newspaper reports a soldier has been taken into custody and will be charged with the murder of CPL Hayden Harris, a Fort Drum soldier who went missing about two days ago and was recently found dead.
Speaking with Sussex County NJ First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller, Herald reporter Lori Comstock learned that the suspect who will be charged with the murder is one of Harris’ fellow soldiers, 23 year old Jamaal Mellish.
Mueller told the Herald that prosecutors believe Mellish “abducted” Harris when they met in Watertown for some kind of vehicle exchange, and the meeting escalated.
Army officials have said CPL Harris was last seen between Thursday, December 17th and Friday, December 18th.
According the Herald’s report, Mellish drove Harris to the New York City area, then into New Jersey. Mueller said Harris was shot to death, and found in a wooded area off a cul-de-sac on Ross Road in Byram Township.
Mueller told the Herald Mellish was taken into custody in Watertown. He’ll be extradited to Sussex County, NJ and is expected to be charged with murder and weapons possession.
7 News has reached out to the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office to learn more. We’re also reaching out to Army criminal investigators.
CPL Harris was a native of Guys, Tennessee, and joined the Army in March of 2019. He was an infantryman from the 2nd Brigade’s 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment.
On Sunday, 10th Mountain Division Acting Senior Commander, Brigadier General Brett Funck wrote, “We are devastated. It was well known here that Corporal Harris was a great Soldier, and as we share our grief with his friends and Family, I hear again and again how he was also - and most importantly - a really wonderful, caring person. His death is a tremendous loss for his loved ones, this Division and our nation.”
Harris was posthumously promoted to the rank of Corporal and awarded the Army Commendation Medal.
He is survived by his mother, father, and sister.