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FBI seeks new witnesses in unsolved murder of hip-hop producer Kevin Robert Harris II

FBI seeks new witnesses in unsolved murder of hip-hop producer Kevin Robert Harris II

Produced by Chuck Stevenson and Lauren A. White

On the morning of his death on September 20, 2009, Kevin Robert Harris II, 21, an up-and-coming hip-hop producer had a frightening premonition.

“He said, ‘Everything’s just happening so fast. I feel like something’s going to happen,” his mother, Katheryn Harris, tells “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Michelle Miller.

By all accounts, Kevin Harris was about to make it. He’d just sold a beat to hip-hop legend Ice Cube, and he had finished a song and music video that were about to become a local radio hit. Harris’ parents say he was devoted to his craft and his family. And then one summer night in 2009 he was gone, shot dead outside of a music studio in Los Angeles.

Kevin Harris
Kevin Robert Harris II

Harris family


The motive for his shooting is a mystery. Was he killed in a case of mistaken identity? Did he get mixed up with the wrong people? Did he unknowingly offend someone? Was he set up? One thing is certain is that witnesses have been hard to find.

The case quickly went cold. After years of no progress, local authorities turned to the FBI for support. New detectives on the case along with Harris’ family are determined to find his killer.

“We really need help from the public,” says FBI Special Agent Sean Sterle. “Anybody who knows anything about this case and what happened to him and what happened that night to come forward…and that’s what our plea is to the public.”

Both detectives and his family remain convinced the mystery of Harris’ murder will be solved.

“The clues are absolutely out there, we just need that one piece, that one smoking gun,” says Kevin Harris, Sr., the artist’s father.

“KEVIN’S BEEN SHOT”

“Time is of the essence. I hate how long my breath takes” 

Time is of the essence..I hate how long my breath takes

— Track BULLY (@TrackBully) August 27, 2009

Those are the words of Kevin Harris on his Twitter account in the summer of 2009.

Kevin was gunned down shortly after 8 p.m. on a September Sunday that same year. He had been sitting in his car – alone — in Inglewood, California, a small city in Los Angeles, close to LAX.

Kevin Harris Sr.:  I got a call at 9:15. “Are you at the hospital?” … I said, “for what?” …” what happened? What’s wrong?” “Kevin’s been shot.”

Kevin Harris Sr. is Kevin’s dad.

Kevin Harris Sr.:  We ran every light … just to be told that we couldn’t see him.

Katheryn Harris: I was in denial

Katheryn is his mother.

Katheryn Harris: The night that he was murdered. And I do say murdered. People like to say he passed. He did pass on. But someone actually took the time to murder him.

The Harrises couldn’t believe that somebody wanted their son dead.

harris-thisiskevin.jpg
“This is Kevin. This was during the photo shoot that they had,” said his father.

CBS News


Michelle Miller: This is Kevin.

Kevin Harris Sr.: This was during the photo shoot that they had.

Michelle Miller: Handsome, confident

Kevin Harris Sr.: Very confident.

Michelle Miller: Tell me about your angel.

Harris family
The Harris family

Harris family


Kevin Harris Sr.: Our angel, our angel. She called him “angel face.” His mother.

Katheryn Harris: Gosh, I wish you could have met him. He was a beautiful man.

And he was still close with his childhood friends, like Cameron Woods.

Cameron Woods: We’ve known each other since were like 2 or 3 years old… we continued going to the same school with each other all the way to… all the way till here.

Michelle Miller: Still feels fresh.

Cameron Woods [tears up]: Yeah, hold on I’m sorry.

Michelle Miller: What are you thinking?

Cameron Woods: I don’t wanna cry.

Cameron Woods: A little hard.

Michelle Miller: A little?

Cameron Woods: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Michelle Miller: It’s OK, you know that, right?

harris-kevin-keyboard.jpg
Kevin Harris was on his way to the top. He made a beat for hip-hop legend Ice Cube, his father heard that Britney Spears and Rihanna were interested in his music, and Kevin produced a song for and filmed a music video with a young rapper now named Gizzle. 

Harris family


Michelle Miller: What do you miss most about him?

Cameron Woods:  His smile, his generosity … never heard anybody say anything bad about him, never really heard him say anything bad about anyone … besides I mean no one’s perfect, but he was close — he was close to that.

The Harrises led by example, working hard —dad at the L.A. airport and selling cars, and mom working retail. They were regulars in church, and they sent Kevin to a Catholic school.

Kevin Harris: She and I were like helicopter parents. Under surveillance at all times.

Michelle Miller: As a form of protection?

Kevin Harris: Yes, if he hadn’t come home at a certain time, I would text a question mark. Just knowing the possible parts that lay out there in the street.

One of Kevin’s hobbies, Woods says, was hanging out with his mom.

Cameron Woods: Spending time with his mom.

Michelle Miller: Really?

Cameron Woods: Yeah. He loved it.

Michelle Miller: Wait, wait, wait. A teenager enjoying spending time with his parents?

Cameron Woods: I don’t know if I should say it, but he was kinda like a mama’s boy, but I mean I’m a mama’s boy, so …

Michelle Miller: There’s nothing wrong with that.

Jasmine Tanner: Kevin was the perfect date.

Jasmine Tanner was Kevin’s high school sweetheart.

Jasmine Tanner: Not really a huge dancer, but like he had his little two-step that he would do.

Jasmine Tanner: Everything that he did was from a very loving place.

The Harrises kept their son involved in sports, especially basketball. But his real calling was music.  

Michelle Miller: He taught himself to play.

Katheryn Harris: He taught himself.

Katheryn Harris: He had rock, he had classic he had jazz, East Indian music.

studio.jpg
By the summer of 2009, Kevin Harris had stacked up hundreds of hours in the studio. He began breaking into the Los Angeles hip-hop scene.

Harris family


Soon after high school graduation, Kevin landed a gig apprenticing at a local music studio.

Cameron Woods: He’d start bobbing his head and he just — and the next thing you’d know, he’s like, “Oh listen to this,” and he’ll click something and he’s going to the next level.

By the summer of 2009, he’d stacked up hundreds of hours in the studio. He began breaking into the Los Angeles hip-hop scene.

Cameron Woods: He just wanted to be the best producer ever.

Sonya Teclai
Sonya Teclai is a poet and singer — one of a number of artists who worked with Kevin.

CBS News


Sonya Teclai: Kevin’s vibe was he was comfortable with himself.

Sonya Teclai is a poet and singer — one of a number of artists working with Kevin.

Sonya Teclai: I had never felt comfortable in recording sessions until my sessions with him.

Sonya Teclai: A lot of times, like, you know, guys are trying to get at girls and do all these things, but he was just — he stayed in his lane and was focused on his work.

As Kevin’s career picked up speed, he bragged about working at a big fancy studio where Michael Jackson once recorded “Thriller.” He tweeted: “… Word is “thriller” was recorded here (inspired)”

Up at westlake studios workin wit this pop artist on our song… Word is “thriller” was recorded here (inspired)

— Track BULLY (@TrackBully) July 13, 2009

Cameron Woods: And he was right there … like a pinball when you get your ball ready and pull it back and then let it go.

But everything was about to come to an abrupt and violent end.

Kevin Harris Sr.: My naïve, loving son probably just could’ve been possibly sleeping with the enemy and had no idea.

KEVIN’S LAST DAY

To this day, no one has been charged for the murder of Kevin Harris.

Kevin Harris Sr.: They thought they were going to do this sneaky stuff here and we’ll get away with it … They f’d with the wrong father this time.

Kevin Harris Sr. is determined to change that.  He’s spent the past 11 years seeking justice for his namesake.

Kevin Harris Sr.: I never got to speak to Kevin that day at all. I went to work at 9 a.m. … He was still asleep … And I looked in on him and I left.

That Sunday morning in the summer of 2009, Kevin shared breakfast with his mother, Katheryn.

Katheryn Harris
Katheryn Harris

CBS News


Katheryn Harris: I still have the plate, the paper, the napkin, the last carton of juice. I have all of that [crying] from that day.

Michelle Miller: You’ve memorialized him.

Katheryn Harris:  I just love him. I — I love him.

Retracing their son’s steps, the Harrises say nothing seemed unusual that day.

Kevin Harris Sr.: From what I hear, at some point, he wound up at a Pop Warner football game. And then later on, he went to his aunt’s.

Karan Staden is the last known person to see Kevin alive.

Karan Staden: He was his regular, happy-go-lucky self. “Hi, Auntie. How ya doin’? What’d you cook?” … he stayed. We ate. We laughed. We talked [laughs].

And after a few hours, Kevin left saying he was headed to the music studio.

Karan Staden: I said, “Kevin, don’t go. We’re havin’ too much fun. I don’t want you to go yet.” … And he said, “Auntie, I have to go because the studio Is quiet. No one’s there. I can record. I can go over some things. I can write. I can perfect what I’m working on.” And we hugged each other. And he was out the door.

He drove to the studio in his beloved green Camaro.  He was supposed to meet up with a friend, known in the community as a wannabe rapper. But that friend was a no-show. 

Kevin Harris Sr.: A lotta suspicious things happened that night.

The studio was in a converted garage in a residential neighborhood.  Kevin arrived, but never made it out of his car. He was shot multiple times from two different guns.

Evidence: Kevin Harris car
A little after 8 p.m. on Sunday, September 20 night, Kevin Harris arrived at the music studio that was located in a residential area of Inglewood, California. Kevin was sitting in his green Camaro when he was shot and killed soon after arriving.  According to investigators, Kevin was supposed to meet with an aspiring rapper that night, but the rapper never showed. 

FBI


Jasmine Tanner: I never expected anything like this to happen to Kevin.

Kevin’s friend Jasmine says he didn’t have a chance.

Jasmine Tanner: To find out that he was shot outside the studio that he loved to go to so much, it was just like nowhere is safe.

The Harrises went to the crime scene no more than three hours after their son had been shot. The police were already gone.

harris-kevin-senior.jpg
Kevin Harris Sr.

CBS News


Kevin Harris Sr.: It was already cleaned up.  It was — so weird and strange … It was like, “Why is this crime scene already, you know, done?” … Car was gone and everything.

Kevin Harris Sr.: It seemed as if they were more expeditiously cleanin’ up that crime scene than they were in tryin’ to find out who did this within the proverbial 24 to 48 hours. That’s what it seemed like.

Katheryn took what was left behind.

Katheryn Harris: I walked around in front of the studio. And I saw blood … and wiped the blood up off the street. … And — the glass from his window was on the ground. I used my hands as a broom to gather the — the glass.

Kevin Harris Sr.: This young man deserves better than what happened here.

There was early speculation that Kevin’s death was gang related – an assumption that upset his father. 

Kevin Harris Sr.: You hear “shot and killed,” and the first thing you want to say is “drive-by, was he in a gang?” No. No he wasn’t. He was just a loving young man with a heart as big as this church.

Music journalist Rahman Dukes says no matter how innocent the victim is, people assume a crime like this is gang related.

Rahman Dukes: ‘Cause it’s a young, black man.

Michelle Miller:  So, it’s automatic?

Rahman Dukes:  Yeah. And — and that — and specifically within that neighborhood. One hundred percent.

Michelle Miller: —young, black man shot.

Rahman Dukes: In the music business. Yeah. Those are all elements.

And the odds of solving crimes with those elements are slim.  For one thing, witnesses can be hard to find.

Rahman Dukes: People in these communities, they stick together. … When the — these situations occur they’re like, “I’m not — not dealin’ with — with the law enforcement.” “They weren’t here to help us, why we gonna — why we gonna help them?” … I have seen people step forward … but the majority of the time that doesn’t happen.

Michelle Miller:  Why?

Rahman Dukes: A lotta times ’cause they’re afraid. … That person still has to live in that neighborhood. … There – there — might be some retaliation. There’s this mentality where it’s like, “Just mind your own business.”

As time passed, Kevin’s parents felt that the police pushed their son’s case to the back burner — even when they tried to help.

Katheryn Harris:  And they would tell me, “Just go home. Just go home. We’ll take care of this.”

Kevin Harris Sr.: We let the law enforcement handle it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work … it was sat on. 

The police told “48 Hours,” “Our hearts go out to the parents and family of Kevin. The Inglewood Police Department has done everything possible to bring closure and justice to the family.”  

The Harrises continued to push for answers. They held memorials for Kevin, inviting the police and local officials.

But the stress of losing their son took its toll.

Kevin Harris Sr.: The gun kills more than its intended victim, and it always will. … And after he died, not right away, but a lot of everything that meant everything to our family was destroyed.

harris-parents.jpg
With no new leads on Kevin’s killer, the case went cold. Kevin Harris’s parents held vigils every year for their son and invited local authorities. Their fight for justice never ceased.

CBS News


Two years after Kevin’s murder, the Harrises ended their 23-year marriage. It was a dark time for Kevin Sr. He searched for solace. And he found it in a church – a Baptist church in the Los Angeles community of Watts.

Kevin Harris Sr.: My heart is broken. … But God has, piece by piece, put it back together.

Pastor Winford Bell helped the heartbroken father channel his grief into a newfound purpose: speaking out against gun violence for Bell’s organization, Silver Lining of Hope.

Kevin Harris Sr.: My heart has been ripped to smithereens … I really reveled in this, because it’s medicine to my soul to speak about the loss of my son.

Pastor Winford Bell:  Kevin stepped up.

Pastor Winford Bell: When they kill your baby, it’s few that want to fight to fix it so that your baby, or my baby, or anybody else’s baby doesn’t suffer the same thing.  

Now, more at peace with himself, Kevin Harris Sr. found more will to keep up the long fight to find out who murdered his son. And he was about to get some unexpected help.

A NEW LOOK AT THE CASE

Kevin Harris Sr. continued to speak out.  Six years after his son’s senseless murder, his heartbreaking story finally had an impact. The local police brought in the FBI to work the case.

Kevin Harris Sr.: When I heard I was gonna get a call from the FBI, I felt that all my aggressiveness wasn’t in vain.

Voviette Morgan: We’re gonna put as much time and energy as it takes … we will not stop … we will figure this out. 

Voviette Morgan is in charge of FBI criminal investigations in Los Angeles.

Voviette Morgan: Have you met the parents?

Michelle Miller: I have.

Voviette Morgan: The parents are fantastic, and as soon as I met them, we immediately bonded, and they have begged us to just find the people that did this and that’s my commitment to them.

Voviette Morgan: I’m vested. So, we’ll find ’em. And we’ll hold ’em accountable. … Welcome to the new FBI.

Special Agent Sean Sterle: I think there was a tough case… not a lot of evidence … no DNA … no actual physical touching…

FBI special agent Sean Sterle got the case. He started with the crime scene photos and with what witnesses that did speak out saw: a dark sedan that pulled up next to Kevin Harris’ Camaro. The shots were fired from that car.

Special Agent Sean Sterle: We believe there were probably three people in the car: the driver and two shooters. …They were approximately about 6 inches door to door [motions with his hands] … so close that the shell casings from the shooter’s guns, two of them, end up inside Kevin’s car.

Also new to the case: former L.A. detective John Skaggs. 

Det. John Skaggs: I know these streets and I know how to talk to people.

Michelle Miller: Where are you taking us?

Det. John Skaggs: Right now, we’re going to the crime scene where Kevin was killed. There’s a couple things I need to look at and there’s a resident I want to talk to.

Skaggs came out of retirement to work with the local cold case unit and assist the FBI.

Michelle Miller: So, is this a hopeless case? Or a stalled case?

Det. John Skaggs: It is stalled, and absolutely not hopeless.

Michelle Miller: And what’s the difference?

Det. John Skaggs: Well, there’s still clues that haven’t been burnt out.

Detective Skaggs brought “48 Hours” to where Kevin was murdered. He walks into the house attached to the music studio. He comes out a half-an-hour later with owner Randy Thomas.

Miller, Thomas and Skaggs
“CBS This Morning” co-host Michelle Miller with Randyv Thomas , center, and Det. John Skaggs at the site of Kevin Harris’s murder.

CBS News


Michelle Miller: Hi, how are you? I’m Michelle Miller with “48 Hours.”

Randy Thomas: Hi Michelle.

Det. John Skaggs: So, Michelle, had a really good talk with Randy. He was friends — he knew Kevin for about four years. And Kevin would use his studio for his music.

Thomas says that by the time he got outside that night, the shooters were gone.

Randy Thomas: I heard, “Cap, cap, cap.” I thought it was firecrackers. Then a neighbor came outside and said, “Somebody’s shot.”

Michelle Miller: And you saw Kevin’s car?

Randy Thomas: I saw the green Camaro and I said “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.”

Randy Thomas: The ambulance came and a firetruck. And they pulled him out. Try to revive him. But it was bad. 

Michelle Miller: To see him on the street in front of your house.

Randy Thomas: Broke my heart.

Randy Thomas: It’s almost like someone had to have followed him here.

Michelle Miller: So, you think it was someone he knew?

Randy Thomas: That I don’t know, but I know that no one usually comes here on Sunday nights.

The new detectives confirmed what Kevin’s parents and friends had said all along.

Kevin Harris
Kevin Haris was alson known by his stage name, “Track BULLY.”

Harris family


Special Agent Sean Sterle: Kevin Harris was really quite a remarkable kid … We probably did somewhere close to 70 to 80 interviews. We could not find anybody who would say anything, closely, remotely negative about him.

And they learned that in the months before his death, Kevin’s career was on a roll. Thomas’s studio was his home base.

Michelle Miller: OK. So, you have a sound mixer? You have a sound booth.

Randy Thomas: Right, right this is where we do the music at … Kevin had keys. He could come anytime he liked to come.

In the summer of 2009, Kevin was becoming better known by his stage name, Track BULLY.

Gizzle: I think he was just really positive about the way his life was going.

Michelle Miller: I mean his name was Track BULLY for a reason.

Gizzle: Exactly, ’cause his tracks was crazy!

One of the artists Kevin was closest with was Gizzle, a hip-hop poet and rapper who is in a video with Diddy.

Kevin Harris
” … he was hungry and just trying to figure it out … he’s got the TB on his hat. That’s for Track BULLY,” Gizzle remarked when shown this photo of Kevin Harris.

We Are Vision Inc.


Michelle Miller: I look at this picture and what do you see?

Gizzle: Oh man, that was just bro, he was hungry and just trying to figure it out … he’s got the TB on his hat. That’s for Track BULLY.

Michelle Miller: By then he was already like —

Gizzle: Lit, kind of.

Michelle Miller: Yeah, he was lit

Gizzle: I used to go by Lady G at the time, and he’d be like, “What’s up, Lady G? Man, like, man you gotta mess with me on the music, man,” and so he finally sent me like a batch of beats.

Gizzle and Kevin worked together on “Poppin'” — a catchy tune they believed could break through and become a hit.

Michelle Miller [watching video]: This is Poppin’?

Gizzle: This is Poppin’.

Gizzle: Wow.

Michelle Miller: That’s you?

Gizzle: Yeah, man.

Michelle Miller: Is that him right there?

Gizzle: Yeah, Track BULLY, right there.

Michelle Miller: Off to the side?

Gizzle: Yeah.

Kevin was clearly proud of that song. Gizzle may have been the star, but Kevin made sure everyone knew he was the force behind it, tweeting: “LADY G VIDEO SHOOT FOR “POPPIN”(SUPER TURNT UP) SAT. SEPT 12t 2009 producer by @TrackBully … …hit me up for more info”

LADY G VIDEO SHOOT for “POPPIN'(SUPER TURNT UP) SAT. SEPT 12th, 2009 produced by @TrackBully …hit me up for more info

— Track BULLY (@TrackBully) September 9, 2009

And then there was his triumph of scoring a really big sale. It was to hip-hop star Ice Cube, once again proudly tweeting about his feat: “Westcoast legend…that’s all I’m sayin”

Westcoast legend…that’s all I’m sayin

— Track BULLY (@TrackBully) August 28, 2009

Michelle Miller: Right before he was killed, he had sold a track to Ice Cube. I mean, how big of a deal was that?

Rahman Dukes: It was a very big deal. You know, Ice Cube is one – Ice Cube is a legend in music, not just hip-hop, it’s music … It’s a really big deal.

Kevin’s career was skyrocketing, and his dad was feeling a little uneasy.

Kevin Harris Sr.: If I would have had the chance, I would have reeled him back in just a little bit.

Looking back, Kevin Sr. believes his son was playing with fire.

Kevin Harris Sr.: Put it this way, there’s not this evil grim reaper with a hood that’s just standing around on streets. Normally, it’s someone that you know, or someone that you’ve had acquaintance with. … Friend one day, enemy the next.

Kevin tweeted:  “gotta get it in ’til the end, u never know when u gonna go….”

gotta get it in ’til the end, u never know when u gonna go….

— Track BULLY (@TrackBully) July 14, 2009

A SURGING CAREER

The new detectives continued to study the crime scene photos.

Special Agent Sean Sterle: Just kind of like you see his life right here. I mean high school basketball player. Great outside shooter … His laptop, his hard drive with all his music, so … in his car were all his loves, and horribly that’s where he died.

Since Kevin’s reputation was golden, they wondered if his death could have been a case of mistaken identity. They learned Kevin wasn’t the only one in town with a green Camaro.

Det. John Skaggs: There was an active gang member who lived less than two blocks away from Kevin at the time.

That gang member, they say, had a look-alike car.

Det. John Skaggs: I was able to interview him. The guy’s changed his life, and he’s told me about some of the stuff he was doing back in that day that could easily be a cause for somebody to retaliate against anybody driving a green Camaro.

Gizzle: When you grow up in L.A., no matter how sheltered you are or how strict your parents are, you’re gonna run into the culture … it’s no secret that Los Angeles does have a gang culture. … Even though he wasn’t in the streets, I think we all kind of know what’s that like. You know your parents can’t protect you from everything.

But detectives now say they took a hard look at that “mistaken identity” theory and ruled it out.

They believe that Kevin rolled down his window to talk to the people who drove up next to him that night, and that he would not have done that unless he knew them.

Special Agent Sean Sterle: So, they’re looking at each other eye to eye … that kind of dispels gang retaliation shooting where Kevin was misidentified for another gang member.

They were convinced Kevin Harris was the intended target, but why?  Were there clues in his surging career?

For one thing, in the hip-hop business you can get rich overnight.

Rahman Dukes: You have like really young artists 18, 19 years old and they’re millionaires. Two, three years before that they probably didn’t have $10 in their pocket.  

Kevin hadn’t made any big money yet, but he was definitely a “prospect” — a kid with big potential.

Jasmine Tanner: He was really hustling … trying to get artists and putting music together and getting his music heard … Kevin was all over the place.

All that new hustle meant more parties. His tweets show it:

Pool party at the custom….which one y’all choosin?

— Track BULLY (@TrackBully) September 7, 2009

Gizzle: There’s no other way to attain your goals and aspirations without going at it 24/7. I could just see that in him. You’re just showing up where you’re supposed to show up … and put yourself out there. 

Putting himself out there. He was getting a little more flashy; he put extra wide chrome wheels on his Camaro. His dad didn’t approve.

Kevin Harris Sr.: Now you’re kinda blingin’ a little bit too much for maybe the average young man. … You have to be less visible.

And Kevin was also getting louder on Twitter.

Jasmine Tanner: Kevin got real cocky. … His name was like really getting out there. I did feel you know maybe he was kind of feelin’ himself, little fluff in his little feathers.

Word was that Kevin didn’t want to work with people who weren’t up to his level.

Rahman Dukes: When you start getting hot, everybody wants a piece of you. You just can’t work with everybody, and sometimes some people get offended by that, things could happen outta those situations.

And Kevin wasn’t shy about calling some people out. That’s clear in his tweets: “I’m gettin bored by my so-called peers” 

im gettin bored by my “so-called peers” you’ll have to pardon me

— Track BULLY (@TrackBully) September 5, 2009

And: “trying to imitate…but end up fallin short”

And he tweeted some people are, “…exceedin their talent.”

In the music business, words like that could be a problem.

harris-dukes.jpg
Rahman Dukes is a music industry executive and digital music pioneer.

CBS News


Rahman Dukes: There’s no difference between that, and dissing someone in the streets.

Michelle Miller: What is a diss?

Rahman Dukes: A “diss” is disrespect … it’s a very real thing and again it goes back to these street rules.

Michelle Miller: So, a lot of the conversation is through social media, Twitter specifically.

Rahman Dukes: I’m sure Kevin was aware of it. Did he think it would lead to him potentially losing his life? I don’t think so.

Just who was Kevin dissing in those tweets? No one knows for sure. Could it have been that wannabe rapper who stood him up at the studio that night? Was there bad blood between them?

The people who knew Kevin best sensed he was uneasy in the weeks before his death.

Jasmine Tanner: His demeanor did seem a little different. I couldn’t really pinpoint like what it was … but … I can tell when a person’s vibe is off.

Kevin Harris Sr.: He’ll come home. Couple times I’d see him look back out the door. I’d say, “What’s wrong man? Somebody following you?” … “Nah… nah, I’m OK.”

The Harrises had prepared Kevin for life growing up in a tough neighborhood. There was sometimes gunfire in the area, but they believed they’d taught Kevin how to avoid it. Still, Kevin Sr. was taken aback by a question his son had. 

Kevin Harris Sr.: At one point, he did ask me, “Well what do you think about bulletproof windows?  I said “why?”  I said, “Kevin is someone bothering you?  “No, it’s all right, I’m OK.”  I said, “Just let me know, I’ve lived here long enough. We could speak on it; we can get it taken    care of peacefully.” “Nah, I’m alright dad.” It was always “I’m alright Dad.”

But something must have been wrong. After Kevin died, Katheryn was surprised to learn that he was thinking of joining the military and getting out of town.

Katheryn Harris: A week after he was murdered, I received a letter from the recruiter’s office for him to go see the recruiter. You know, a lot of people say timing is everything … And gosh, I kinda wish it would have came a week earlier.

A PLEA FOR JUSTICE

Kevin Harris never lived to see his recording played on the radio — that song by Gizzle.

Kevin Harris Sr: I was at work … and someone told me it would be coming on and then I hear it and I kinda broke down right there … everybody came running over. You know. … I said, “That’s Kevin, that’s my son.” 

Now, 11 years later, his father is putting his faith into the new investigation. 

Kevin Harris Sr.: The clues are absolutely out there. We just need that one piece, that one smoking gun that we need to solidify this.  

This is an active case, so the detectives won’t name the names of anyone they have in their sights, but Skaggs did drop this clue about Kevin’s last day. 

Det. John Skaggs: He had made plans with one of the individuals who’s definitely a suspect in this case, to meet him at the studio at 8 o’clock. As far as I know that individual was the only other person that knew Kevin was gonna be at the studio at 8 p.m. 

harris-desmondcarter.jpg
Investigators took another look at the aspiring rapper whom they say Kevin Harris was supposed to meet the night that he died.  That aspiring rapper was Desmond Carter.

Twitter


We have now learned that man was Desmond Carter – the wannabe rapper that Kevin was supposed to meet at the studio that night. He definitely caught the attention of the police.  In fact, “48 Hours” has learned that Desmond Carter was arrested for the murder of Kevin Harris in 2017.

Carter was questioned, but never charged with anything.  Authorities told “48 Hours” the evidence they had did not cross the threshold of reasonable doubt.  Still, Desmond Carter remains a suspect.   

That’s partly because there had been bad blood between Desmond and Kevin. Word on the street was that Kevin had dissed Desmond by refusing to give him “beats.”

Whatever it was that brought Kevin to the studio that night – authorities suspect it was a trap.  

Special Agent Sean Sterle: I believe Kevin Harris was set up. 

Kevin’s own words may support that theory.

Special Agent Sean Sterle: Ten days or two weeks before his death … he told one of his best friends that something’s come up missing, I’m getting blamed for it. I didn’t have anything to do with it. But I’m really scared of what might happen. 

What had gone missing that Kevin was being blamed for? Was it money? Drugs? Police have told “48 Hours” they do not believe that Kevin was dealing drugs.

Special Agent Sean Sterle: Somebody blamed him for doing something that they did and blamed him to some big hitters … that were going to seek revenge. 

Kevin Harris
His smile, his generosity … never heard anybody say anything bad about him, never really heard him say anything bad about anyone … besides I mean no one’s perfect, but he was close — he was close to that,” said childhood friend Cameron Woods.

Harris family


Special Agent Sean Sterle: This is a classic story of a kid who trusted too much in several other people that he really didn’t know that well. But he gave them all his trust, and he ended up being killed as a result.  

“48 Hours” reached out to Desmond Carter. He didn’t want to go on camera or comment directly, but through a friend, he said he had nothing to do with Kevin’s death, and that he thought of Kevin as one of his best friends. 

Kevin Harris Sr.: I’m angry. Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry with certain people that were hanging around my son … Because it has all the earmarks of someone that he knows well. … that was in the circle.  

Detective Skaggs says walking on the nearby beach helps clear his head and reminds him to be patient.

Det. John Skaggs: It doesn’t discourage me … if these cases were easy, they’d all be solved. 

… I know that some of the people I’m interviewing are not telling the truth. so, you know it just makes it so hard. 

Detectives are hoping for new information.   

Special Agent Sean Sterle: There’s a ton of circumstantial evidence. That kind of ends up adding up into one big significant theory … that I think we’re very close to proving. We think we’re 80 to 85% there. 

Det. John Skaggs: I’m fully confident this case is gonna be solved. 

Det. John Skaggs: So, anybody who has any information about what happened to Kevin that day. Whether they were an eyewitness, overheard something at a later date or later got … knowledge of what happened to Kevin and who hurt him. That person needs to come forward for so many reasons, first of all for justice.  Justice for Kevin and his family. It’s the right thing to do and could be preventing these bad guys from hurting more people. 

Special Agent Sean Sterle: We really need help from the public … anybody who knows anything about this case and what happened to him and what happened that night …  to come forward, and that’s what our plea is to the public.  

As the case stands today, the murder of Kevin Harris remains unsolved.

Michelle Miller: You still miss him. What do you miss most? 

Gizzle: I just miss his spirit. I think just not knowing, you know? 

Michelle Miller: Not knowing? 

Gizzle: Not supposed to cry. But just not knowing, like to see all that potential, just to see that the path that he was on, to know the support that he had from everyone around him is just really unfortunate to not be able to see that just you know reach its full potential. You know, so I just miss the spirit. I miss having him around. I miss the fact that I — we all miss the chance to see how he would grow, you know. 

harris-billboard2.jpg
Detectives and his family remain convinced the mystery of Kevin Harris’s murder will be solved. “The clues are absolutely out there, we just need that one piece, that one smoking gun,” says Kevin Harris, Sr., the artist’s father.

CBS News


Kevin’s parents say they’ll never give up.

Kevin Harris Sr.: I have nothing else to do with the grief that I feel every day but to be motivated by it when I walk out the door each day … Let’s kick some doors in, let’s stay relentless with this.

Katheryn Harris: You can’t hide from God. You can hide here on earth, duck and dodge, go to another state, go to another continent, whatever but you can’t hide from God. 

The FBI helped fund billboards to help get new information.  They’ve also contributed to a $50,000 reward.  The Harrises say the reason they agreed to talk with “48 Hours” is their hope this will finally bring justice for their son.

Katheryn Harris: When I go to sleep, when I dream, he’s always there with me. … for my son, I’m never gonna stop grieving … murdered. He was murdered [whispers].

Kevin Harris Sr.: These pictures are in my room. And to be honest with you, since we resemble each other so much, I turn ’em backwards. Kind of hard to look at ’em all the time like that.  

harris-sneakpeek.jpg
Do you have information that can help solve the case? 

Harris family


Kevin Harris Sr. doesn’t need to look at those pictures anymore, because the image of his son is fresh in his mind every single day— and he is consumed with solving this case for one reason.

Kevin Harris Sr.: So, I can lay my son’s soul to rest, properly … His mother and I will make sure his passion dream lives on.

HAVE INFORMATION?

The FBI is asking for information from the public. 

The tip line phone number is (310) 477-6565 .

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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