Teen and soldier kidnapped and killed 20-year-old corporal, cops say
A 23-year-old U.S. Army soldier from New York and a teen are accused of kidnapping and killing another soldier whose body was later found in a wooded area of North Jersey, a week before Christmas.
Specialist Jamaal Mellish, of Brooklyn, and a 16-year-old male juvenile are both charged with murder, felony murder and kidnapping in the death of 20-year-old Cpl. Hayden Harris, according to Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch on Monday.
Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller previously told the New Jersey Herald murder charges were expected and that Mellish was in custody, suspected in the death. Mueller also said at the time a juvenile had been in the car used to kidnap Harris.
The prosecutor's office's announcement of charges Monday are the first public statement also accusing the teen in Harris' death.
Harris had been reported missing from Fort Drum in New York Dec. 18. The next day, his body was discovered in Byram Township, partially buried by snow, after firefighters carrying out a Santa run had seen some bloody snow and called police to a wooded area near Ross Road.
Mueller previously confirmed to New Jersey 101.5 that Harris was found shot to death, though an official cause of death has not been released by the prosecutor's office.
Mellish and the teen, whose identity has not been disclosed due to his age, each also face a count of unlawful possession of a handgun.
Byram Township Police have said that Mellish and Harris had a previous vehicle transaction and had planned to meet to exchange a Ford Mustang for a Chevy pickup truck.
While recovering Harris' body, firefighters also found sneakers near the same area off Ross Road and paperwork from that previous vehicle transaction, with the names of both Harris and Mellish on it, police said.
Mellish currently is being held in military custody under pretrial confinement in Oneida County, New York, while the teen is in custody in a juvenile detention facility, Koch said.