Crime Stoppers: Two Decades Since Harris Murder
Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson discussed a old case with us. A murder for which, after two decades, an answer has yet to be discovered. "The unknown for victims of homicide, murder victim families," he said , "they tell me, is very difficult to deal with." For the family of James Richard Harris, that unknown has lingered for nearly 20 years.
Deputies were called to Boss Road, south of Chickamauga, early the morning of December 22nd, 1994. They found Harris's body on the ground by his pickup truck at the end of his driveway.
What likely took place? Harris had a routine. "He left early for work," Sheriff Wilson explained. "He worked at Miller Industries in Ooltewah, Tennessee and he would leave somewhere around 5:15 to 5:30 every morning."
Plus, he was known to carry a large amount of cash. On that morning, he stopped to close his driveway gate and was ambushed. "We believe the motive was robbery," the sheriff said. "Was there an intent for him to die? Not sure about that."
Harris may have put up a struggle. His revolver was recovered at the scene. It had been fired twice, but investigators were unable to determine when.
There is one clue in the case. One of the people questioned encountered a man early that morning. Authorities would like to know who he is. They believe he is connected to the case so strongly, they brought in an artist to produce a sketch.
After two decades and hundreds of interviews, it is time resolve this case. "We believe that if we can just get a narrow suspect, the field narrowed down," Wilson said, "that the DNA evidence that we collected there at the scene may help us identify the person responsible for this crime."
Everyone knew Harris always carried a wad of cash, and there were lots of people in his circle of family friends acquaintances. He had 300 co-workers at Miller. If you have been holding on to a secret, if you have a good hunch, now is the time to clear your conscience. We will make it worth your while. If your tip leads to an arrest, we will pay you up to $1,000."We're asking, you know, the people that worked with him, Wilson added. It's been 20 years. A lot of those folks have retired, most likely, and anyone that may see this, we just want them to pick up the phone, or send an email. We didn't have email in `94. Now, they can send an anonymous email to us."
Call Crime Stoppers now: 423-698-3333
Remember, an officer may answer the phone or return your call, but he will never ask your identity; not even if you get the reward cash.