An Army soldier is being held after a soldier assigned to Fort Drum in New York was found shot to death in New Jersey over the weekend.
Cpl. Hayden Harris, 20, of Guys, Tennessee, who had been missing since last week, was found dead, buried under snow, Saturday in Byram Township after firefighters spotted blood and sneakers during an annual Santa ride, police said in a statement Monday.
He had been fatally shot.
Jamaal Mellish, 23, is being held in New York pending extradition to New Jersey, officials said.
Last week, Harris had arranged to meet someone in Watertown, New York, for some type of vehicle transaction, the Army, which had asked for public help finding him, has said.
Township police said in a statement that Mellish was supposed to exchange a Ford Mustang for a Chevy pickup truck from Harris. Mellish had a previous transaction with Harris, police said.
Authorities believe Mellish “abducted” Harris during the planned vehicle exchange and killed him, First Assistant Sussex County Prosecutor Gregory Mueller said.
Harris, an infantryman with the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, at Fort Drum, joined the Army in March 2019.
It was unclear if Mellish was also assigned to Fort Drum. A request for comment from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command was not immediately returned Monday night.
It wasn’t immediately known whether Mellish had a lawyer.
Brigadier Gen. Brett Funck, acting senior commander of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division, in a statement Sunday said Harris’ death was devastating.
“It was well known here that Corporal 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 said.
Fort Drum and Watertown are in upstate New York not far from the Canadian border. Byram Township is northern New Jersey, about 40 miles northwest of Manhattan.