This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class. The student credited above wrote this story as a class project.
Jackie Harris was a typical Southern man – he loved to fish, go camping, and enjoy some time at the beach. Jackie’s gentle and loving personality tended to make the people around him feel safe.
Growing up in Michigan, Jackie and his siblings always looked out for each other, no matter the circumstance.
“It was us against the world,” Tracy Sullivan, Jackie’s sister recalls. “He meant everything to me.”
Jackie loved his many pets growing up. Raggedy Ann, an English sheepdog, was his favorite. Tracy recalls that her fur looked like a big pile of rags, leading to the affectionate nickname “Rags.”
After exploring different vocational classes and earning his GED, Jackie moved to Orlando, Florida, to work for Tracy’s bathtub repair company.
After Tracy was the victim of a violent attack outside Orlando, she and Jackie agreed to move to Jacksonville for a fresh start. It was shortly after the move that Jackie began to struggle with addiction. He went through rehab on a few occasions and was even homeless during this difficult time in his life.
On August 21, 2015, Jackie was murdered in his apartment. At least one unknown assailant entered the home and shot Jackie multiple times. Jackie Harris was only 52 when he was killed.
The family says that police do have information on the unsolved crime and did receive tips from the community when the murder happened. They need the assistance of the public again to finish putting together the pieces in the case.
Those that knew and loved Jackie, including his young son, are left to wonder who the killer was, why they took Jackie’s life, and when they will be arrested and held accountable for the pain they caused.
Jackie’s family and loved ones celebrate his life each year on his birthday, August 23. Tracy honors him in her everyday life by doing things he loved to do, like barbecuing and going to the beach.
His other sister, Vikki, uses social media to keep Jackie’s name and case in the public eye. Vicki often asks others to share her brother’s story and pleads with those who have information to “break the code of silence” and come forward.
Jackie was a very simple man who was satisfied with the little things in life. He didn’t need to live lavishly to be happy, but rather he gained happiness by making others smile. He constantly cracked jokes to make the people around him smile and laugh.
Jackie’s simplicity and loving nature made the people around him feel like they were on top of the world. Tracy says it best: “He was a joker, but he was a quiet and gentle person that I always felt safe around.”
To this day, Tracy catches herself saying things Jackie was always known for saying. It’s just one way of keeping his memory alive.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Jackie Harris, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a $3,000 reward, call First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS.
Research and Impact
Project: Cold Case works hard to ensure our families are included in the process of awareness campaigns for their loved one. During our intake process, our staff makes sure that our families are provided with a few helpful tips to assist in their information gathering and pursuit of justice.
Here are a few recommended tips to help in navigating this process:
Discuss the details with your family. Find out who was last to get direct info from the investigating agency handling the case. This will allow for familial support but also reveal what information the family already has. This is also a good time to delegate one person to be the point of contact for law enforcement. To cut down on confusion and overwhelming law enforcement, allow for a single member of the family to gather information and relay to other family members.
Search and collect available documents. Be sure to have the death certificate on hand and easily accessible. Begin searching for newspaper clippings online and save any printed clippings you may have on hand. The more information you can independently acquire could help in processing as well as give a path for what questions the family might want answered once they reach out to law enforcement.
Reach out to the investigating agency. If there has been a long span in contact, reintroducing yourself and reminding law enforcement of your loved one’s cold case could help in reengaging the investigative process. Remind law enforcement that the family is still awaiting judicial process, but ensure you are working toward relationship building. This could help in trust and info exchange for both parties. Always be courteous and respectful – at this point, you are working towards building a good relationship with the investigators.
Media and social media platforms are vital tools. Be mindful to do your homework and research the person or organization you intend to share your loved one’s story with. While most media (podcast, newspapers, articles and tv) offer help in advocating awareness– and do a commendable job– there are others that seek to capitalize on grief of survivors. Our office is happy to assist with creating Facebook pages supporting your loved one’s case.
Be selective in what you share. Once information is posted or broadcasted, it is out there for all to see. The one responsible for your loved one’s murder may very well be watching what information is shared. Don’t post anything that may tip them off to work being done on the case or that investigators may have identified a person of interest.
Please consider using the buttons below to share this case in hopes that someone, somewhere will come forward and give this victim and family the answers they need and justice they deserve.
If you have a loved one that is the victim of an unsolved homicide, please submit their case here for consideration in a future Cold Case Spotlight post.