Victim in 1986 cold case homicide solved

Published 1:56 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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A partnership between the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative has identified a victim of a ‘John Doe’ homicide dating back some 37 years. The victim’s skeletal remains were discovered in the Caney Valley community of Claiborne County on Aug. 24, 1986. It was later determined that the victim had died as a result of a gunshot.

The Initiative has confirmed the remains as Little Rock, Arkansas resident Jerry Harrison, who would have been in his mid to late 20s at the time of his death.

Harrison had been dead from six months to a year prior to discovery, according to the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department.

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The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification received a sample of his remains and, in September 2015, developed a DNA profile. The Center entered the sample into the Combined DNA Index System and the National Missing & Unidentified Persons System.

A sample was sent to Othram, Inc. – a private laboratory based in Texas – in December 2022 as a part of the Initiative.

With the help of an intelligence analyst with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, potential family members were located in Arkansas, who confirmed that a brother had not been heard from in decades. From there, a Familial DNA Standards was submitted to CODIS to determine if the remains were the missing brother. Harrison was positively identified as that brother.

It was learned that Harrison had last made contact with his family in 1982 while traveling cross-country.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is asking for help in solving the crime and finding the person or persons responsible for the homicide. Anyone with information about this case, especially any knowledge of individuals Harrison may have been with prior to his death, are encouraged to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.