Inside Investigations: 10 years, no arrests in Michael Harris' murder

"I walked to the door and I [saw] two detectives at the door and I said, 'I don't want to hear it.  Whatever it is you've got to tell me, I don't want to hear it,' because I knew that that was not a good sign."

It's been nearly a decade since Michael Harris Sr. was shot dead in Louisville's Russell neighborhood. The Harris family wants you to watch this story because 10 years is far too long to wait for justice. None

   

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The shared love of basketball was one of the most emotional connections between Michael Harris, Jr. and his father, Mike Sr.

 

Relatives remember the elder Mike as the life of any party.

 

"He's the one who likes to be last one come in the door because he wants everybody to 'oooh and ahhh' over him," Mike Sr.'s mother Sherry Morris said.

 

She said the family, because of her son, shared plenty of laughs.

"He always had this laughter that would just crack you up," she smiled, "If you heard that laughter, you knew he was around."

 

"He had the most craziest laugh to me and it made me smile," the younger Mike said.

 

Mike Harris, Sr.  played basketball at Jeffersonville High School. His coach and teammates were like a second family. His basketball career would take him to Terre Haute and Indiana State University. It was an example that showed Mike Jr. his own passion for the sport could lead him just as far.

 

"Even though it's just a game, it's more than that to me 'cause it's my memory of him and that memory could go on for the rest of my life."

 

Ten years old in 2007, life was just beginning for Mike Jr.

 

Days before Christmas that year, Morris had a feeling something was wrong when he did not show up for the family's annual Christmas gathering. She said Mike Sr. had told her he was running an errand before coming to the party.

 

He never made his usual grand entrance.

 

"I was feeling something wasn't right because Mike and I were just that close," Morris recalled. "As a mother, you know when something's going on."

 

Later that night, there was a knock at Morris' door.

 

"I walked to the door and I [saw] two detectives at the door and I said, 'I don't want to hear it.  Whatever it is you've got to tell me, I don't want to hear it,' because I knew that that was not a good sign."

 

Sherry could not escape the news her son had been murdered.

 

Mike Jr. was in the home with his grandparents when his grandmother received the terrible news.

Details, though, were kept from him. When relatives started to show up at the house, emotions could not be hidden."

 

"I remember my grandmother was in the room with one of her sisters and they were just holding each other crying everybody was just crying, I didn't know what happened," Mike Jr. said.

 

Louisville Metro Police detectives got a call for a suspicious vehicle in the area of 17th and Plymouth Court in the Russell Neighborhood. Mike Sr.'s body was found inside the vehicle parked behind the Plymouth Court Apartments.

 

"Did he know someone over there, did somebody meet him over there, I don't know," LMPD Detective Sgt. Brian Peters said. "Obviously something had to push him over there."

 

"I did ask the detectives, 'Were there drugs involved,' and they did tell me, 'No there wasn't; other than that, I don't know why or who would have done what they did,' Morris said.

 

Detectives canvassed the area hoping to find clues or witnesses that would give them answers.

 

"There's a sense of loss that comes along with not only losing their loved one, not knowing exactly why and we want to try and provide that for them," Sgt. Peters said.

 

The next day Morris told her grandson his father died, but did not specify how it happened.

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"I cried instantly and I didn't know what happened; it really just hit me hard because losing my best friend was the biggest thing," Mike Jr. said. 

 

It wasn't until he was almost 13 when he would learn the circumstances surrounding his father's death.

 

"Out of all these years, it took me probably eight years to truly know what forgiveness is," Mike Jr. said from the living room where his grandmother received the news. "I realized that if I forgave this person it would release everything from me and I would move on. Now is it still painful?  Yes, of course, but it's not going to hold me back.

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Sgt. Peters went back to the scene where Harris was killed. He said physically inspecting a scene, even years later, allows detectives to possibly see something they might miss by looking at a photograph alone.

 

"As you can see now things have been let go, things seem to be abandoned, the units and stuff but this was occupied at the time, and this was a little more well maintained at the time," Sgt. Peters said.

 

The apartment building is empty now. Dozens of potential witnesses have moved on. For homicide detectives, though, cases are never complete until there's an arrest.

 

"There's no free pass," Sgt. Peters said sternly. "This is a murder, and we will never quit on it."

 

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"I understand that it's hard to come forth and truly come out and say that this person did it," Mike Jr. said. "But truly as a community, do you really want to stand back knowing that you know what happened?"

 

"Even if you do wrong your whole life, you did wrong, that one moment, that you want to decide to do good will reflect who you are later on in your life," he added.

 

Contact LMPD with Tips and Information

 

In the Harris and any open homicide investigation which are cold case or current, Louisville Metro Police detectives encourage anyone to come forward with the information.  Lt. Emily McKinley who leads the homicide unit and the head of the Cold Case Unit joined this project with WHAS 11 News to highlight cold cases with the hopes of sparking memories and developing new leads in the investigations.

 

You can leave a tip anonymously by calling (502) 574-LMPD (5673).

 

 

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Contact the WHAS 11 News i-Team

 

If there is a case you think the 11 News i-Team should profile in our Inside Investigations series looking at cold case investigations, send an email to iteam@whas11.com.

 

Lena Moore-Duncan contributed to this report. She can be reached at (502) 582-7224 and lmoore@whas11.com. i-Team Investigator Derrick Rose can be reached at (502) 852-7232 and dnrose@whas11.com.

 

Follow them on Twitter: @LenaUnscripted and @WHAS11DRose  

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