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Army confirms missing Fort Drum soldier found dead in New Jersey

Hayden Allen Harris (US Army/Released)
December 21, 2020

The Army confirmed on Sunday that the 20-year-old soldier who was missing from Fort Drum in New York last week was found dead and foul play is suspected.

Cpl. Hayden Allen Harris was found dead after going missing between 8 p.m. Thursday and 6:30 a.m. Friday, the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command said in a statement.

According to the statement, Harris was supposed to meet someone in Watertown, N.Y., for a vehicle transaction, but did not return. The Ford Mustang that Harris was reportedly driving has been found.  

The statement also said, “according to law enforcement officials, foul play is expected,” but didn’t provide any further details in that regard.

Harris’ body was discovered in a secluded area of northern New Jersey, the New York Times reported. Local authorities said another soldier was detained in connected with Harris’ death.

“We are working very closely with several law enforcement agencies, to include Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Bryam Township Police Department on this investigation,” Chris Grey, a spokesman for Army CID, said in the statement. “We greatly appreciate their work on this ongoing case.”

Posthumously promoted to corporal, Harris was from Guys, Tenn., and enlisted in the Army in March last year. He initially trained at Fort Benning in Georgia, after which he went to Fort Drum in July 2019.

Brig. Gen. Brett Funck, the acting senior commander of the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum released a statement Sunday.

UPDATE: Corporal Harris has been found deceased, and the investigation is on-going. "We are grateful to everyone who…

Posted by U.S. Army Fort Drum & 10th Mountain Division on Sunday, December 20, 2020

“We are devastated,” Funck said. “It was well known here that Corporal Harris was a great Soldier, and as we share our grief with his friends and Family, I hear again and again how he was also – and most importantly – a really wonderful, caring person,” Funck said. “His death is a tremendous loss for his loved ones, this Division and our nation.”

Prior to his death, Harris was the recipient of two Army Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. He was also posthumously awarded the Army Commendation Medal

“We are grateful to everyone who shared his picture or said a prayer for his safe return, and we ask that you continue to tell the story of this great Soldier, and keep his Family in your thoughts and prayers, as we will,” Funck said, adding that the corporal’s “excellent teammates” in the 1-89 Cavalry Regiment helped law enforcement locate their fellow soldier.

“I am proud of their quick action and hope they can find some comfort in knowing they ultimately helped law enforcement officers locate Cpl. Harris and greatly empowered the investigation into his disappearance,” Funck said.