A U.S. Army soldier is being held in the death of Guys resident and former McNairy Central golfer-baseball player Cpl. Hayden “Opie” Harris, 20, after Harris went missing from his military base in upstate New York last Thursday.
After a two-day search, authorities found Harris’s body in a wooded area of Byram Township, New Jersey, on Saturday.
The young soldier was last heard from Thursday night after he went to Watertown, New York, for a “vehicle exchange,” according to First Assistant Sussex County Prosecutor Gregory Mueller.
His roommate reported him missing after Harris did not return.
The exchange was with fellow soldier Jamaal Mellish, after which authorities posit that Mellish “abducted” Harris and killed him.
Mellish, 23, is being held in New York with charges pending.
Harris, an infantryman with the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, before joining the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in July 2019.
“His death is a tremendous loss for his loved ones, this division and our nation,” Brigadier Gen. Brett Funck, acting commander for Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division, said in a statement.
Harris was promoted from specialist to corporal following his death.
Harris was a 2018 graduate of McNairy Central, and was renowned for becoming the winning pitcher in the district championship game, after coming in to pitch as a reliever.
Harris, who had only pitched five innings during the regular season prior to the district title game, had been called up Coach Brian Franks after a double-elimination tournament decimated Franks’ pitching staff.
Harris pitched seven and two-thirds innings to earn his first win of the season.
Further information to come.