Who was Hayden Harris? Missing New York Army soldier found shot to death in New Jersey, foul play suspected

The suspected killer in his case is being held by New York authorities. He is expected to face extradition to New Jersey


                            Who was Hayden Harris? Missing New York Army soldier found shot to death in New Jersey, foul play suspected
Cpl Hayden Harris (US Army Criminal Investigation Command)

FORT DRUM, NEW YORK: An Army officer who was reported missing from Fort Drum, New York State, was found dead in a wooded area on Saturday, December 19 in New Jersey. The 20-year-old Corporal Hayden Harris was found shot to death off Ross Road in Sussex County. A fellow Army soldier is the prime suspect in his killing and was taken into custody, revealed authorities. 

Harris's body was found in a wooded area off a cul-de-sac on Ross Road in Byram Township according to Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller. According to the Observer-Dispatch, Mueller said Harris was to meet with a fellow soldier, Jamaal Mellish, 23, in nearby Watertown, New York, for "some type of vehicle exchange"  but there may have been an argument between them. It is believed Mellish "abducted" Harris and drove him to the New York City area and eventually across the state, Mueller said. A juvenile was in the vehicle, but their identity or role has not been released by authorities. Harris's body was later found by the police after members of the Byram Township fire department found blood, a pair of shoes and paperwork on Ross Road.

“We are devastated,” Brigadier Gen. Brett Funck, an acting senior commander for Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division, said in a statement announcing Harris’s death. “It was well known here that Cpl. Harris was a great Soldier, and as we share our grief with his friends and family. His death is a tremendous loss for his loved ones, this division and our nation,” Funck said in the statement. Harris was last heard from sometime late Thursday night and Friday morning (December 18), according to the official statement

Brig Gen Funck had updated the information regarding his death on Facebook saying: "Corporal Harris has been found deceased, and the investigation is on-going. We are grateful to everyone who shared his picture or said a prayer for his safe return, and we ask that you continue to tell the story of this great Soldier and keep his family in your thoughts and prayers, as we will."

The suspected killer in his case is being held by New York authorities. He is expected to face extradition to New Jersey after charges are filed in Sussex County, the report said. Harris joined the Army in March 2019 and was assigned to Fort Drum in July 2019. Harris, was promoted to the rank of Corporal following his death and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Army officials said. A vigil by Harris' unit had been ongoing since he went missing. He leaves behind his mother, father and sister, Army officials said.  

If you have a news scoop or an interesting story for us, please reach out at (323) 421-7514