A Fort Drum Army soldier has been arrested after a fellow New York service member was found shot to death this weekend, according to police.
Jamaal Mellish, 23, was booked into the Oneida County Correctional Facility on Sunday, December 20, the day after New Jersey police discovered the body of Hayden Harris, 20, on Saturday, December 19, in Sussex County, according to the New Jersey Byram Township Police Department and online jail records. Harris was last heard from between the evening of December 17 and early morning of December 18, the police department said on Facebook.
Mellish, who is awaiting formal charges in the case, met with Harris around that time in Watertown for a “vehicle transaction,” according to police. Investigators found paperwork near Harris’ body with the the suspect’s name on it, police continued.
According to the Byram Township Police Department:
During the investigation it was discovered that the victim, Hayden Harris, was reported as a missing soldier from Fort Drum, NY. Investigators from the Jefferson County Sheriff Department and the US Army were contacted. It was found that they had a person in custody who was charged in the disappearance of Harris and was being held. During their investigation it was determined that the suspect, Jamaal Mellish, and Harris were going to meet for a vehicle transaction.
Mellish is pending an extradition hearing to New Jersey, according to the Byram Township police. It is unclear whether he has an attorney.
Meanwhile, an investigation into Harris’ death is still ongoing, the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command said in an online statement.
“We are working very closely with several law enforcement agencies, to include Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and Sussex County Prosecutors Office, and the Byram Township Police Department on this investigation. We greatly appreciate their work on this ongoing case,” said Chris Grey, a spokesman for Army CID.
According to a Fort Drum & 10th Mountain Division press release, Harris hailed from Guys, Tennessee and joined the Army in March 2019. He earned two Army Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medial, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon, the statement continued.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Fort Drum Army CID Office at (315) 772-9459. Anonymous tips can be submitted on the CID’s Crime Tips website.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Byram Township Fire Department Found Harris’ Body During an Annual Santa Ride
According to the Byram Township Police Department’s Facebook, local firefighters discovered Harris’ body while “conducting their annual Santa ride around the Township.”
Members of the Byram Township fire department noticed a pair of shoes, paperwork and blood while turning around in a cul-de-sac, police said in the Facebook statement, writing:
The Fire Department was turning around in the cul-de-sac at the end of Ross Rd. when they noticed debris alongside the roadway including an umbrella, sneakers and a disposable food container. The top of the snow was stained with what appeared to be blood. The Fire Chief notified Byram Twp. Police Department. Sgt Dellicker, Ptl. Sodano and Ptl. Spaldo arrived in the area to further investigate.
Further investigation revealed paperwork with the victim and the accused name on it from a previous vehicle transaction. During a search of the disturbed area in the snow, the victim’s body was found approximately 200 yards into the wooded area mostly buried under snow. During the investigation it was discovered that the victim, Hayden Harris, was reported as a missing soldier from Fort Drum, NY.
Police Say Mellish Was Supposed to ‘Exchange a Ford Mustang With Harris for a Chevy Pickup Truck’
Police said Mellish and Harris were meeting in Watertown for a “vehicle transaction,” according to the Byram Township Police Department on Facebook.
“Mellish was supposed to exchange a Ford Mustang with Harris for a Chevy pickup truck. Mellish is also a US Army soldier and had a previous transaction with Harris,” Byram Township police wrote on Facebook on December 21.
The Department noted that a “juvenile” has also been arrested in connection to Harris’ case.
“There is a juvenile involved with the disappearance and no further information will be released on the juvenile as the investigation continues,” police continued.