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Claiborne Co Homicide Victim Identified After More Than 30 Years as Part of TBI DNA Cold Case

From the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation -

Jerry Harrison

A man whose skeletal remains were found in 1986 in Claiborne County has been identified, and special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are asking for the public’s help to determine who killed him.


On August 24, 1986, skeletal remains were discovered by hunters along an isolated and abandoned trail in the Caney Valley area of Claiborne County. TBI agents began working alongside the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office in investigating the death. Forensic anthropologists determined that the skeletal remains were those of a white male, likely between the age of 30 and 40. The victim had been shot, and his death was ruled a homicide. According to the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department, the man had been deceased for six months to a year prior to the discovery of his remains. After exhausting all leads, investigators could not determine the victim’s identity, and he was classified as a John Doe.


In September 2015, the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center submitted a sample of the man’s remains to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI). A DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in hopes that the man would eventually be identified.


In December, as part of the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative, TBI agents submitted a sample of the man’s remains to Othram Inc., a private lab based in Texas, for forensic genetic genealogical DNA testing. Scientists provided information about possible relatives connected to the man. A TBI intelligence analyst used that information to locate potential family members in Arkansas. Agents made contact with two of those individuals and confirmed they had a brother they had not heard from in more than four decades. With the assistance of the Hot Springs Police Department and Pine Bluff Police Department in Arkansas, agents were able to obtain familial DNA standards for possible siblings of the man, which were submitted to the TBI Crime Lab in Nashville for entry into CODIS.


Last week, the UNTCHI positively identified the man as Jerry Harrison (DOB: 12/20/57) of Little Rock, Arkansas, who last contacted his family in 1982 after he began traveling across the country. Now, TBI special agents are hoping the public can help provide information that may help solve the murder of Jerry Harrison. If you have information about this homicide, specifically any knowledge about individuals Mr. Harrison may have been with before his death, please call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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