Investigators say they have found several holes in the case of a murdered girl, but their answers to the perennial mystery are all too close to home. Former Deputy of St. Lucie James Howard Harrisonwho died, was the “only probable suspect” in the rape and murder Lora Ann Huizar11, 1983, the sheriff’s office announced on Thursday.
Harrison was the one who placed Huizar’s body in a drainage ditch near where she went missing, and he even told two witnesses who found the body left behind before other law enforcement agencies arrived, the official said. The sheriff’s office describes Harrison as having a seasoned past, even facing contemporary sexual abuse allegations from his work as a preacher. They worry there may be more victims, especially teenage girls.
Huizar disappeared on Sunday, November 6, 1983 after spending the night at a friend’s home, authorities said. Her father reported her missing, but back then, that didn’t set off alarm bells for the authorities. According to Detective Paul Taylor, investigators of that era always assumed that if a minor went missing, they would spend time with friends, go out, or do other things. He quoted one of the investigators as saying: “’That’s the way of that case.’”
The situation took a turn for the worse when witnesses found Huizar’s body in a drainage ditch about 600 yards southeast of where she was last seen.
Taylor said that when he caught the case two years ago, Harrison was not a suspect. That evolved as he turned around, talking to witnesses as well as the original investigators. His investigation leads him to Harrison, a longtime law enforcement officer with a terrifying past.
It was Harrison, a uniformed patrol lieutenant, who saw Huizar walking home from a gas station on November 6, 1983, according to the Sheriff. Brian Hester, who cited an original law enforcement report. This is within sight of her driveway, says Taylor. However, the detective said that even then, a law enforcement officer who saw Huizar carrying a bundle of clothes would assume she was a fugitive and would at least stop by to talk to her. He wondered why a deputy didn’t drive her home.
Authorities now say that Harrison asked witnesses to leave the scene where Huizar’s body was found – about 20 minutes before other law enforcement agencies arrived.
Both the location where Huizar disappeared and the location where she was found dead were within the deputy’s patrol area, authorities said.
Taylor said Thursday.
“There was a lot that was missed in that investigation,” he said.
The sheriff’s office stressed that they may have a reason against Harrison, although they say they cannot prosecute him because he died in 2008. Taylor said he understands that Harrison died of cancer letters.
He said he had mixed emotions when he told Huizar’s family that the authorities had resolved the case.
“That day was my best day in law enforcement, and also my worst day,” he said. “It’s still my worst day because I’m literally standing there in front of this victim’s family and I’m telling them that one of our deputies was the one who did it.”
According to what investigators described, DNA evidence was the key point to confirm Harrison was the killer. DNA from the sexual assault kit showed the suspect was male, but it was too much decomposed by the time they were able to exhume Harrison’s body and compare samples.
Even so, officials have highlighted the deputy minister’s dubious background. He resigned in 1984, five months after the murder, after it was revealed that he faced allegations of sexual abuse as part of his work with Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Pierce. Mr. Taylor said Harrison appeared with his wife at the home of the now-retired deputy chief of staff to reveal the statements.
“The sheriff said, ‘Get off my porch,'” the detective said. The deputy chief of police at that time was called the Chief of Police Lanny Norville to get rid of Harrison.
The current sheriff Ken J. Mascara revealed he used to work with Harrison and he said he voiced concerns about the vice president’s interactions with young people. However, he said his complaints were going nowhere by the time he brought them up, around 1979 or 1980.
“He was actually a teammate in my area when I was on the road, and I would guess around ’79 or ’80 I complained to my supervisor that I thought the deputy These are having inappropriate relationships with young people. ,” Mascara told reporters on Thursday. “Not sex. Not anything like that, but his interactions with young people I think are inappropriate. ”
But in this story, a supervisor says that under his work as a preacher, Harrison is mentoring at-risk children and youth. Looking back, Mascara voiced concern that Harrison may have used his job as a deputy and as a preacher to “invade” children.
For example, Taylor notes that back then many immigrant workers found their way across the state, and he suggested that Harrison may have followed their children.
Taylor says other agencies know Harrison as the “Preacher.” During his long career, the now deceased Florida law enforcement officer worked with 10 agencies: Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Brooksville Police Department, Groveland Police Department, Sheriff’s Office Hernando County, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Edgewood Police Department, St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office, Glades County Sheriff’s Office, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office and Okeechobee Police Department, detectives said.
When asked how Harrison was able to keep working despite his past, Taylor said that the way they hired and fired people at the time was based on background. Quoting the former chief assistant, he said these men are going to get a job and it’s not like you can go on the Internet and do background checks or get key phone logs.
Hester asked Floridians if there is any information about Harrison or his involvement in another criminal investigation, to contact the Criminal Investigation Division of the St. Lucie at (772) 462-3230.
[Images via St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office]
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https://lawandcrime.com/crime/since-deceased-preacher-deputy-is-the-only-probable-suspect-in-rape-and-killing-of-11-year-old-girl-four-decades-ago-in-florida-authorities/ Deputy James Howard Harrison raped, killed Lora Ann Huizar: sheriff