Corporal Hayden Allen Harris was a dedicated young soldier doing training at Fort Drum in upstate New York.
Now his dead body has been found in New Jersey and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) says foul play is suspected.
Details of the Case
According to CID, Harris, 20, last made contact before 6:30 a.m. Friday and was going to meet someone in Watertown, which is located a short drive southwest of Fort Drum. According to the CID he was going there to do something related to a vehicle, but was not heard from as expected following his leaving for town.
Members of Harris’ unit alerted authorities when he didn’t return as scheduled. His 2016 Ford Mustang Coupe has been found, but his body was reportedly discovered in a very far away part of northern New Jersey in a remote forest area.
Local authorities have reportedly arrested another soldier in relation to the investigation of Harris’ death and the CID said investigations are ongoing.
Fort Drum’s Acting Senior Commander Brigadier General Brett Funck said the base is “devastated” and added that Harris’ death is a “tremendous loss for his loved ones, this division and our nation.”
“Cpl. 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,” Funck noted.
Further Details on What Happened
Harris’ body was found in a woodland region of Byram Township, in New Jersey’s Sussex County. The news was confirmed Sunday by the county’s First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller.
Harris was reportedly going to Watertown to meet with a fellow soldier, 23-year-old Jamaal Mellish for what was described as “some type of vehicle exchange. Their meet-up apparently went wrong and police have said they believe that Mellish “abducted” Harris and took him out of state.
Another minor was reportedly in the vehicle with Mellish and Harris, who was then killed at the wooded area in New Jersey.
Harris’ body was found by accident by firefighters in Byram Township when they noticed scattered personal items on the roadside as well as blood and then alerted authorities to the scene.
Mellish was subsequently arrested and will have a hearing in Sussex County.
Further details about exactly what happened or the suspect in the case and his potential motivations have not been released.
MISSING SOLDIER FOUND DEAD: The body of 20-year-old soldier Hayden Harris was found after he was reported missing from Fort Drum in New York, with foul play suspected and authorities launching an investigation into his death. @TomLlamasABC reports. https://t.co/e13ZshGV58 pic.twitter.com/pVW1PvtoNX
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) December 21, 2020
Harris’ Army Career
Cpl. Harris came from the small town of Guys, Tennessee. He enlisted with the army in the spring of last year and completed training at Fort Benning, Georgia before being posted to Fort Drum last summer for further training with the 10th Mountain Division.
Harris was an infantryman with the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade combat team in the 10th Mountain.
Harris was promoted to corporal and bestowed with the Army Commendation Medal posthumously.
In addition to the posthumous awarding of the Army Commendation Medal, Harris had two Army Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
Fort Drum tried their best to find him, sending out many messages on social media and asking for any help from the public. His unit also held a vigil to pray for his safety. In the end the story ended tragically, but Harris’ death shows how his unit and commander stood by him and tried to help, but the alleged actions of one bad soldier robbed a nation of a hero and a family of their son.
Harris is survived by his mom, dad and sister.