Murder Suspect Arrested After Interview with Police - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

07/25/06 - Nacogdoches County

Murder Suspect Arrested After Interview with Police

by Ramonica R. Jones

An accused murderer was arrested in Nacogdoches late Monday afternoon. His name is Artemas Smith. Investigators believe Smith stabbed 61-year-old Harold Harris to death and left his body on the side of a busy highway.

A passer-by found Harris off the south loop at Laceyville Road in Nacogdoches less than a mile from his home.

Twenty-eight-year-old Artemas Smith is now in jail charged with murder, but the case is not closed.

Sgt. Greg Sowell said, "Officers are still receiving new information and are gathering more evidence. The case is still active. Just because Mr. Smith's in jail does not mean that the case is completely closed."

Harris and Smith knew each other, but it's still unclear why Smith would have killed Harris. The case will remain open as long as new leads come in.

Friends and relatives of Harold Harris had plenty to say about the investigation and the man now charged with killing him.

Some people who knew Harris believe his lifestyle may have had something to do with his murder. Others said he lived a good life and spent most of his time caring for an elderly aunt.

Close friends and family members of Harris had been living in fear since his murder nearly a week ago. Now that his killer may be locked up, they are resting a little easier.

"We feel very comfortable," said Harris' neighbor, Will Randle. "We were glad that they caught the guy because this is a pretty serene neighborhood and we hadn't had that kind of problem before."

Randle lived next door to Harris for four years and saw him the night he was killed.

"He was just one funny fella," Randle said. "He was a good guy, he really was, and he was my friend."

Before his murder, Harris took care of his 101-year-old bed-ridden aunt day and night. Ms. Clay doesn't know what she'll do now that he's gone.

"He cooked, washed, cleaned the house, and everything a woman can do, he did it," Clay said.

Some people who knew Harris call his lifestyle and acquaintances shady. Many weren't surprised by his murder, but those closest to him said just because he made mistakes, he didn't deserve to die such a violent death.

Judy Watley was his friend and is now his aunt's caregiver.

"We all have our ways; none of us is perfect," Watley said. "Harold was no better and no worse than none of us. He took care of Ms. Clay. He was here for her. So, really and truly, that's all that matters. She was happy with him."

Police can't release much information about Harris' murder because they're still investigating. He'd been stabbed several times with a sharp object sometime last Wednesday night.

Artemas Smith was not a suspect when he came to the Nacogdoches police station Monday to talk about Harold Harris' murder, but authorities quickly arrested him based on his interview.

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