Fort Drum soldier is extradited to NJ, where he faces murder and kidnapping charges

By CRAIG FOX | Watertown Daily Times, N.Y. | Published: January 15, 2021

BYRAM, N.J. (Tribune News Service) — The accused killer of a Fort Drum soldier was in a New Jersey jail on Thursday night, and will face murder and kidnapping charges.

Pvt. Jamaal Mellish, 23, was picked up from the Oneida County Correctional Facility on Thursday by Sussex County, N.J., law enforcement officials after waiving extradition, according to the jail in Oriskany.

Mellish is accused of abducting Cpl. Hayden A. Harris, 20, in Glen Park and driving him some 300 miles in the corporal's 2017 Chevrolet Silverado pickup to Byram Township, N.J., after the soldiers had apparently argued about swapping vehicles.

Sgt. Guy Mariani confirmed Mellish was booked and finger printed on Thursday in the Byram Township Police Department. He was then brought to the Morris County Correctional Facility, where he's being held.

Mellish is expected to be in a Sussex County Superior Court next week to answer to the charges.

An unidentified 16-year-old boy was also involved in the abduction and killing. The teen has been in an upstate detention center, but it's not clear as of Thursday night whether he's also been brought to New Jersey to answer to the charges.

The connection between the teen and Mellish remains unclear.

Mellish faces first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree kidnapping resulting in death, second-degree unlawful possession of weapons involving a handgun, second-degree possession of weapons for unlawful purposes and third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution involving concealment/destruction of evidence.

The teen faces first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and weapons charges.

Fort Drum reported Cpl. Harris missing on Dec. 17. The corporal was shot in the head and his body was discovered the next day, about 200 yards into a wooded field in Byram Township, N.J.

Cpl. Harris, a member of C Troop, 1-89 Calvary, Fort Drum, was posthumously promoted to the corporal rank and awarded the Army Commendation Medal. He was from Guys, Tenn., joined the Army in March 2019, and was assigned to Fort Drum that July.

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