Friday, April 2, 2010

Cop's quick thinking leads to arrest

Somer Thompson
Fast response leads to arrest of Jarred Mitchell Harrell
by Robert A. Waters

On October 19, 2009, seven-year-old Somer Thompson was kidnapped as she walked home from school. The first-grader wore a cranberry-colored jumpsuit and was just a few blocks from home when she disappeared. The crime tore the soul out of her Clay County, Florida community.

Without a detective named Bruce Owens, this stranger abduction may never have been solved. Almost as soon as Somer’s disappearance was reported, Owens recommended to Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler that investigators begin following garbage trucks from the area. Once the trucks reached their destination, Owens suggested that their contents be searched. The sheriff, open to innovative ideas, assigned a team of detectives to the task.

The strategy worked. Two days after the abduction, investigators saw the legs of a child protruding from a clump of garbage at the Chesser Island Road Landfill dump in nearby Folkston, Georgia. The remains were quickly identified as Somer’s. DNA was found on her clothing, and sheriff’s officials said it matched Jarred Mitchell Harrell.

On March 26, 2010, Harrell, 24, was charged with premeditated murder, sexual battery of a child, and lewd and lascivious battery. In addition, Harrell, who was living with his mother along the route Somer walked when she disappeared, was charged with more than fifty counts of sexual molestation of another young girl. According to Sheriff Beseler, Harrell had filmed the assault.

If the charges are true, Harrell should receive the death penalty.

Detective Bruce Owens should be given accolades, awards, and a promotion. His quick thinking no doubt saved other young children from the clutches of a sadistic monster.

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