In a cold case that has been going on for nearly 40 years, a former deputy is the main suspect. It involves the kidnapping of and the murder of a Florida girl.
Lora Ann Huizar, 11 years old, was found dead in St. Lucie County on Nov. 9, 1983. This is about 60 miles north from West Palm Beach. Three days earlier, witnesses claimed that they saw her being taken home by a uniformed officer.
James Howard Harrison, an ex-law enforcement officer who was killed in 2008, has been identified as the sole probable suspect. The case has now been closed.
"We have established probable cause that Harrison abducted and sexually assaulted the juvenile victim, and then murdered him, and later altered the crime scene, placing the victim in the drainage ditch in an effort to destroy physical evidence," St. Lucie County Chief Deputy Brian Hester stated in a Thursday release.
Harrison's patrol area contained both the location and the place where Lora Ann vanished and her body. According to the sheriff's office, witnesses did not provide accurate information about the location and position where Lora Ann's body was discovered.
People familiar with Harrison's initial investigation said Harrison instructed two witnesses to leave the scene approximately 20 minutes before additional law enforcement arrived.
Private labs found DNA evidence in the girl's sexual assault kit. Harrison's remains were exhumed to test. Authorities were unable make a comparison due to DNA degradation.
According to the sheriff's, Harrison had worked in 10 Florida law enforcement agencies and was known for his inappropriate behavior towards young women. Investigators suspect that Harrison may have been involved in other cases of sexual assault throughout the state.
Paul Taylor, cold case detective said that solving this case was the most difficult and rewarding day in my 30-year career as a law enforcement officer. "Nobody hates a bad cop as much as a good cop. It was bittersweet to finally give the victim's family some answers.