KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Claiborne County homicide victim classified as a ‘John Doe’ for over 30 years has now been identified and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is asking for help to identify the killer.
The skeletal remains of a man found in the Caney Valley area of Claiborne County on August 24, 1986, have now been identified through the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative. Analysis has positively identified the victim as Jerry Harrison (DOB: 12/20/57) of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Harrison had been shot and his death was ruled a homicide. The University of Tennessee Anthropology Department determined Harrison had been deceased for six months to a year prior to the discovery of his remains.
A sample of his remains was submitted to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification in September 2015 to develop a DNA profile and enter it into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
TBI agents submitted a sample of his remains to Othram Inc., a private lab based in Texas, in December 2022 as part of the Unidentified Human Remains DNA Initiative. A TBI intelligence analyst was able to locate potential family members in Arkansas, who confirmed they had a brother they had heard from in decades.
Familial DNA standards for possible siblings of the man were submitted for entry to CODIS with help from police in Arkansas. Harrison was positively identified last week.
He had last contacted his family in 1982 while traveling across the country.
Anyone who may have information that may help solve the murder, specifically any knowledge of individuals Harrison may have been with before his death, is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.
Othram Inc. has helped successfully identify multiple cold case victims in recent years, including a woman found in Gatlinburg who had been identified for nearly 50 years. The Harrison case is one of 10 samples recently submitted to Othram by the TBI as a part of the Unidentified Human Remains Initiative.
Alongside Harrison, the TBI sent away the remains of an unidentified man found in Johnson County in 1977. The man’s remains were found near a stream in a Shady Valley apple orchard, and investigators are hopeful that analysis by Othram Inc. will lead to answers in his case.