Murder, kidnapping charges lodged in Hayden Harris death

Murder, kidnapping charges lodged in Hayden Harris death

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Prosecutors in New Jersey have lodged murder and kidnapping charges against two men in connection with the death of Fort Drum soldier Hayden Harris.

Harris’s body was found December 19 in a remote part of northern New Jersey. He had been shot to death.

Prosecutors have charged another soldier, Jamaal Mellish, 23, with first degree murder, first degree kidnapping and related charges. (See the full list of charges at the bottom of this story.)

In addition, they charged a 16 year old male juvenile with first degree kidnapping and felony murder.

Charges were filed Sunday in Andover Township Municipal Court.

Mellish allegedly killed Harris, 20, after a dispute involving swapping vehicles.

Mellish is being held at the Oneida County jail, and will face extradition to New Jersey.

The status of the 16 year old is unknown.

According to investigators, Harris and Mellish met in Glen Park. Something went wrong with the deal, and Mellish and the juvenile abducted Harris, driving him to Byram Township, where he was shot.

Harris’s body was found in the woods, covered in snow.

Investigators were able to quickly tie Mellish to the case because of paperwork found at the scene of Harris’s body, with Mellish’s name on it. It reportedly was a receipt for a previous vehicle transaction between the two soldiers.

The full statement from the Sussex County Prosecutor’s office

Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch announced today charges against two defendants in the Kidnapping and Homicide of Corporal Hayden Harris, who’s body was discovered on 12/19/2020 at approximately 3:15 p.m. by members of the Byram Township Police Department, in a wooded area adjacent to 30 Ross Road, Byram Township, New Jersey.

The two defendants charged today are Specialist Jamaal Mellish (DOB 10/10/1997) of Brooklyn, NY and a 16 year old male Juvenile.

The charges against Jamaal Mellish are:

1. MURDER FOR PURPOSELY CAUSING THE DEATH OF H.H., IN VIOLATION OF N.J.S.A.

2C:11-3A(1), A FIRST DEGREE CRIME;

2. KIDNAPPING BY UNLAWFULLY REMOVING H.H. A SUBSTANTIAL DISTANCE FROM, GLEN PARK, NY FOR THE PURPOSE OF INFLICTING BODILY INJURY ON OR TERRORIZING H.H., IN VIOLATION OF N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(B)(2), A FIRST DEGREE CRIME;

3. FELONY MURDER BY ENGAGING IN THE COMMISSION OF OR AN ATTEMPT TO COMMIT THE CRIME OF KIDNAPPING (NJSA 2C:13-1) WITH ANOTHER, DURING WHICH THE DEATH OF H.H. OCCURRED, IN VIOLATION OF N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(A)(3), A FIRST DEGREE CRIME;

4. KNOWINGLY POSSESS A HANDGUN, WITHOUT FIRST HAVING OBTAINED A PERMIT TO CARRY THE SAME AS PROVIDED IN N.J.S.2C:58-4, IN VIOLATION OF N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(1), A CRIME OF THE SECOND DEGREE;

5. POSSESSION OF A FIREARM, WITH A PURPOSE TO USE IT UNLAWFULLY AGAINST THE PERSON OR PROPERTY OF H.H., IN VIOLATION OF NJSA 2C:39-4(A)(1), A SECOND DEGREE CRIME; and

6. SUPPRESS, BY WAY OF CONCEALMENT OR DESTRUCTION, ANY EVIDENCE OF THE CRIME, REGARDLESS OF ITS ADMISSIBILITY IN EVIDENCE, WHICH MIGHT AID IN THE DISCOVERY, APPREHENSION OR LODGING OF A CHARGE AGAINST HIMSELF WITH THE PURPOSE TO HINDER HIS OWN DETENTION, APPREHENSION, INVESTIGATION, PROSECUTION, CONVICTION OR PUNISHMENT FOR AN OFFENSE OR VIOLATION OF TITLE 39 OF THE REVISED STATUTES, IN VIOLATION OF NJSA 2C:29-3B(2), A THIRD DEGREE CRIME

The charges against the juvenile:

1. KIDNAPPING BY UNLAWFULLY REMOVING H.H. A SUBSTANTIAL DISTANCE FROM GLEN PARK, NY FOR THE PURPOSE OF INFLICTING BODILY INJURY ON OR TERRORIZING H.H., IN VIOLATION OF N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(B)(2), A FIRST DEGREE CRIME;

2. FELONY MURDER BY ENGAGING IN THE COMMISSION OF OR AN ATTEMPT TO COMMIT THE CRIME OF KIDNAPPING (NJSA 2C:13-1), DURING WHICH THE DEATH OF H.H. OCCURRED, IN VIOLATION OF N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(A)(3), A FIRST DEGREE CRIME;

3. KNOWINGLY POSSESS A HANDGUN, WITHOUT FIRST HAVING OBTAINED A PERMIT TO CARRY THE SAME AS PROVIDED IN N.J.S.2C:58-4, IN VIOLATION OF N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(1), A CRIME OF THE SECOND DEGREE;

4. POSSESSION OF A FIREARM, WITH A PURPOSE TO USE IT UNLAWFULLY AGAINST THE PERSON OR PROPERTY OF H.H., IN VIOLATION OF NJSA 2C:39-4(A)(1), A SECOND DEGREE CRIME;

The arrest of the two defendants was the result of a collaborative effort by the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Byram Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, and the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate of the 10th Mountain Division, U.S. Army, Fort Drum, NY; U.S. Army CID at Ft. Drum, NY; the Jefferson County, NY, District Attorney’s Office, Watertown, NY; the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Watertown NY, and the New York City Police Department, Department of Investigations Squad.

Mellish is currently being held in military custody under pretrial confinement in Oneida County, NY and the juvenile is in custody in a juvenile detention facility.

This investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact Lt. Nicholas Elmo at the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office 973-383-1570 or Det. Robert Tierney at the Byram Township Police Department at 973-347-4008.

The Defendants are presumed to be Not Guilty of the charged offenses unless and until proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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