Soldier, 16-year-old charged in Fort Drum infantryman’s slaying

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An Army soldier and a 16-year-old have been charged in the slaying of an infantryman stationed at Fort Drum in New York.

Cpl. Hayden Harris, 20, was traveling to Watertown, N.Y., for a vehicle transaction, but authorities found him shot to death in a wooded area of Byram Township, N.J., on Dec. 19.  The body was buried under snow.

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The Sussex County, N.J., prosector’s office said Spc. Jamaal Mellish, 23, and the unidentified male juvenile were charged with murder, kidnapping and other charges.

Mellish is being held in military custody in Oneida County, N.Y., pending extradition to New Jersey. The teenager is in custody in a juvenile detention facility.

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Mellish is facing six charges, including first-degree murder, kidnapping, unlawful possession of a firearm and suppression of evidence. The juvenile is facing four charges, including kidnapping, felony murder and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Harris, from Guys, Tenn., joined the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in July 2019 after training at Fort Benning in Georgia.

He served as an infantryman with the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, but was promoted to corporal after his death. He received two Army Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, according to the 10th Mountain Division.

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“We are devastated,” Brig. Gen. Brett Funck, acting commander for Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division, said in a statement at the time of Harris’ death.

“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.”

According to the 10th Mountain Division, members of his unit reported him missing just hours after losing contact with him. 

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Several police departments joined the search for Harris after the Army requested help from the public.

The investigation is ongoing. Officials are asking anyone with information related to Harris’ death to contact Lt. Nicholas Elmo at the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office at (973) 383-1570 or Det. Robert Tierney at the Byram Township Police Department at (973) 347-4008.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.



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