3-year-old Major Harris, boy at center of Amber Alert, found dead

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The body of 3-year-old Major Harris was found near 35th and Rohr, Milwaukee police announced Thursday, Oct. 21, ending days of searching and the hope the boy would be found alive.

It sparked agony and outrage as dozens of people flocked to the scene to mourn the boy who had been last seen last Thursday. 

Major's father, his friends and family, and so many concerned strangers started Thursday hopeful they would find Major, or at least new information in the case. By mid-afternoon, the days-long search was over. But the answers remain elusive, and now, for many, the pain is just setting in.

Milwaukee Alderman Russell Stamper said, "Our community is suffering. Too many times this has happened."

Dozens of searchers -- both professionals and amateurs alike -- ignored the rain Thursday as they searched again for Major. They started searching near 33rd and Hadley.

Then MPD got what it called an investigative lead and headed several blocks north to an alley near 35th and Rohr. There they recovered the body of Major Harris. Police offered few details about that lead or how Harris was found, citing the ongoing investigation, but insisted the department utilized every available resource to find Major. Interim Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said, "We were constantly -- 24/7-- working our leads. Working with our community. Working with our different partners. Ensuring this was not going to be taken lightly in regards to the urgency and need of this."

The sad realization the search was over incited immediate pain and anger. Alderman Stamper said, "I know everybody is hurting. My condolences to the family." And community activist Adante Jordan said, "Especially when it's involving a child, a defenseless child, you're going to get that emotion, you're going to get that type of fervency."

Arnitta Holliman, the director of the city of Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention, said the community's efforts were not in vain. "This is a difficult situation because I think we were all hopeful that Major was still alive, but until we know different, keep hope."

But that was little comfort to the dozens of people expressing their grief near where Major's body was found. They had rushed to 35th and Rohr just as police officers were taking down tape and leaving the scene.

Carlton Harris wanted to see his son, and his family and the community wanted answers, but all of them would be disappointed.

CBS 58 watched Carlton Harris, Major's father, his family and the community doubled over in grief after learning the news. 

Carlton drove all the way from West Virginia to help search for his son, and earlier he told CBS 58 he wasn't leaving Milwaukee without him.

Milwaukee police and city leaders held a news conference around 4 p.m., and shared the heartbreaking news. 

"There should never be an instance where a 3-year-old, or any child, is harmed, and particularly in this kind of situation. We thank every single person that came out to search or whatever they did to help, but we are urging everyone as a community to make sure that we continue to keep women and children safe," said Arnitta Holliman, director of the Office of Violence Prevention. 

After police left, tearful mourners lingered at the scene, unsure what to do.

One woman tried to comfort them, saying, "Some of us don't know what to do. Some of us want to go and shoot the guns. Some of us want to retaliate." But the anger shifted to grief as a prayer circle formed, and the long and painful road to healing began. She continued, "Our prayers are going to bring this family together. Our prayers are going to wake up the neighborhood. Our prayers are going to start right here with us."

There were a lot of hugs at the end of the prayer group as people wanted to end on a positive note and make sure the rest of the community saw it. But it didn't belie the justified anger and pain that's still there.

There are still a lot of questions in this case. Acting Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said he didn't know how long Major has been dead, but he stressed that this is an ongoing and fluid investigation. 

In a statement Thursday evening, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said:

“I share the sadness people throughout Milwaukee feel with the death of Major Harris, and I offer condolences to his family. Thank you to the police, other city officials, and citizens who have worked to find Major. Our prayers for justice and peace continue.”
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