Jerry Harrison, Death – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a statement June 7 confirming the identity of the unidentified murder victim as Jerry Harrison, a resident of Little Rock, Arkansas, who had not been in contact with his family since 1982, when he was 25 and embarked on a trip across the country. After nearly 40 years, the bones of a man named John Doe have been discovered on a deserted Tennessee trail.
According to the statement, hunters in the Caney Valley area of County Claiborne came across the skeletal remains of Harrison on August 24, 1986. Police at the time had no way of knowing the name of the victim. , although they learned he was a white male, possibly in his 30s or 40s. The official report concluded that the death was a homicide because the deceased had been shot. The man had been dead for six months to a year before his bones were discovered, according to forensic anthropologists. The statement read: “After investigating all possible leads, authorities have been unable to identify the victim and he has been classified as John Doe.” Ultimately, the police were unable to find any new leads in the case.
According to the announcement, DNA testing on a piece of the man’s bone was sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification at the University of Tennessee’s Center for Forensic Anthropology in September 2015. His DNA was submitted to two databases: the National Missing and the National Missing. Unidentified Persons System and the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Nearly seven years later, in December 2022, officials from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation sent a sample of the man’s remains to a private facility in Texas for forensic genetic genealogy DNA testing, allowing them to identify potential relatives related to the victim.
According to the report, “a TBI intelligence analyst used this data to identify possible relatives in Arkansas.” Two of those contacted by officers confirmed they have a brother they lost contact with more than 40 years ago. The Knoxville TBI Crime Lab received familial DNA standards for the man’s possible siblings from the Hot Springs Police Department and the Pine Bluff Police Department in Arkansas, and those results were entered into CODIS. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials are appealing to the public for guidance that could lead them to Harrison’s murderer and finally solve this cold case. The Murder Investigation Team is asking anyone with information about who Harrison may have been with just before his death to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.