Major Harris death ruled homicide; boy suffered gunshot wound, ME says
MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy of 3-year-old Major Harris on Friday morning, Oct. 22 – ruling his death a homicide.
A tweet by the medical examiner indicates the cause of Harris' death was a gunshot wound to the head.
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New cameras provided lead in search
The news from the medical examiner came a day after the body of Harris, who was the subject of an Amber Alert, was found dead near 35th and Rohr in Milwaukee.
Major Harris; police scene near 35th and Rohr
Acting Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said on Friday that newly installed cameras along a northside business corridor helped provide the crucial lead that brought the search for Harris to an end.
That news came as Norman, along with Alderman Ashanti Hamilton and members of the Villard Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) were on hand Friday outside of theatre and art space Quasimondo Physical Theatre, near 35th and Villard, to announce the public and private partnership that brought "Project Greenlight" to the BID.
"In fact, this particular system that we have just around the area was a key break in the case of finding, in regards to the resolution of the Major Harris case," said Norman.
The set of four pole-mounted cameras run the length of the Villard Avenue business corridor and are funded through the federal COPS grant – the first system of its kind in the city, Hamilton said.
Norman said Friday the cameras in the Villard Avenue BID have the ability to automatically read license plates and, ultimately, helped lead police to the area where Harris' body was found.
"This shows the importance of how this is such an important component, in regards to safety within our community," said Norman.
Timeline of events
One week and roughly three miles separated the discovery of Harris' body from that of his mother – 25-year-old Mallery Muenzenberger. Both were homicide victims.
Thursday, Oct. 14
Muenzenberger, of Onalaska, was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds behind a home near 37th and Clarke on Oct. 14, according to police.
Officials said it took time to identify her body and notify family in La Crosse. It was after notifying her family that police said they learned Harris was last known to be with his mother.
Mallery Muezenberger (photo provided by family)
Saturday, Oct. 16
An Amber Alert was issued Saturday, Oct. 16 for the boy. Muenzenberger’s SUV and Jaheem Clark – a person of interest in the homicide and boy’s disappearance – were sought.
Sunday, Oct. 17
Police said they developed leads, connecting Muenzenberger with the 20-year-old Clark – who police called an acquaintance of Muenzenberger’s. Clark lived at a home near where Muenzenberger’s body was found.
Ultimately, police said Clark turned a gun on himself as officers closed in on a relative’s home near 31st and Custer Sunday afternoon, Oct. 17.
Monday, Oct. 18
Muenzenberger's SUV was found Monday, Oct. 18. It was parked behind a laundromat with its license plate missing. There was unidentified blood inside the SUV.
The SUV was near Sherman and Villard, about a quarter-mile away from where Clark died. It prompted searches of the nearby neighborhood to the west of Sherman Boulevard and McGovern Park – but Harris was not found.
Police presence near Sherman and Villard, Milwaukee
Tuesday, Oct. 19
Strangers came together in search of Harris, combing through Havenwoods State Forest in Milwaukee. They uncovered no clues.
Carlton Harris Jr., the boy's father, joined the search. He had arrived in Milwaukee from West Virginia after the Amber Alert was issued.
Search for Major Harris in Milwaukee
Wednesday, Oct. 20
Police announced Wednesday night, Oct. 20 that six people had been arrested in connection to Muenzenberger’s homicide.
Thursday, Oct. 21
Thursday, police said new leads developed from those arrests prompted the department to mount a coordinated search of 16 square blocks where Muenzenberger’s body was found seven days prior. Search parties could be seen talking to neighbors and searching alley and garbage cans. Police officers were entering vacant homes.
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It was shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday that a number of plainclothes officers were seen leaving the search area and heading north on 35th Street.
About an hour later, Harris' body was found in an alley near 35th and Rohr – roughly three miles north of the initial search area.
Friday, Oct. 22
A vigil formed near where Harris' body was found. Carlton Harris Jr., the boy's father, and community members gathered.
Carlton Harris Jr. at a vigil for Major Harris
Father speaks Friday
Harris Jr. was told of his son’s fate Thursday. Friday, he stood near the spot where the 3-year-old was found dead.
"I love you baby. I love you baby," Harris Jr. said during the vigil.
Harris Jr. arrived in Milwaukee over the weekend after the Amber Alert was issued and joined searches for the boy in the days that followed.
"From the start of this, about my son being missing, I prayed and I asked God to bring my son back one way or the other," said Harris Jr., outside of MPD headquarters Friday afternoon, thanking the community for their support and praying for justice for Major as well as his mother, Muenzenberger.
"I want to thank the community for all their help. I pray for my family, I pray for Mallery’s family. I pray for my son, I pray for their souls. And I pray that whoever killed them – the real people – be brought to justice."
Police have said Clark was the primary suspect in Muenzenberger’s homicide. However, charges are pending in the arrests made in connection to her death. Police added that there have been no arrests or charges in connection to the disappearance or homicide of Harris.
Harris Jr. said Friday that he remains frustrated with the Milwaukee Police Department and its lack of progress, saying the types of searches conducted Thursday should have been done the moment police learned the boy was missing.
"How was this not a failure? This is an epic fail," said Harris. "I don’t care what you say. This, to me, is an epic fail."
Norman said Thursday that an Amber Alert was issued as soon as they were aware that the boy was missing.
MPD statement Friday in response to Harris Jr.
"The Milwaukee Police Department appreciates that the family is experiencing unimaginable grief. We continue to send our sincere condolences to everyone that was impacted by the tragic death of Major Harris and Mallery Muenzenberger. MPD has worked tirelessly over the past week to locate Major and to ensure that justice is rendered to the victims of this horrific incident, and that investigation remains ongoing."
Additional statements from officials were issued Thursday after Harris' body was found.