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Tennessee detectives identify remains as murdered Little Rock man

The skeletal remains of a Little Rock man have been positively identified four decades later by authorities in Tennessee.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The skeletal remains of a Little Rock man have been positively identified four decades later by authorities in Tennessee.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a John Doe whose remains were found along an abandoned Tennessee trail, were positively tested.

Authorities shared on Friday that the DNA testing revealed that the skeletal remains belonged to Jerry Harrison of Little Rock, who last made contact with his family in 1982 at the age of 25. 

This contact with his family was made shortly after Harrison had begun traveling across the country.

Harrison's remains were originally located on August 24, 1986 by a group of hunters. Authorities shared that this discovery was made along an isolated and abandoned trail in Claiborne County. 

Authorities declared Harrison's death to be a homicide after evidence pointed to him being shot to death. 

His remains had been along the trail for anywhere between 6 months to 1 year before being discovered, according to forensic anthropologists. 

Initially investigators were unable to identify Harrison, but were able to determine that he was a white male between the ages of 30 and 40. 

From there, authorities continued to work towards figuring out his identity, to no avail -- with investigators eventually classifying Harrison as "John Doe" as the case went cold. 

A sample of Harrison's DNA was submitted in September of 2015 to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification in an attempt to identify the previously unknown man.

Fast forward seven years later in December of 2022, and investigators identified several 'possible' relatives connected to Harrison. This breakthrough came after TBI agents submitted a sample of Harrison's DNA to a private Texas lab.  

TBI agents used information from the results to contact potential family members that Harrison had in Arkansas. Two people in Arkansas then confirmed that they had a brother who they hadn't heard from in over 40 years. 

Authorities in Tennessee then worked with the Hot Springs and Pine Bluff Police Departments to further complete their DNA testing. 

Now after identifying Harrison, authorities are working to gather information on suspects behind the deadly shooting. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact authorities at 1-800-TBI-FIND. 


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