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Posted at 12:33 PM ET, 01/30/2012

Police: Alexandria community activist was shot, then dumped down well

The missing Alexandria activist whose body was recovered from a well in Fort Washington Saturday had been shot to death, authorities said Monday.


Lenwood "Lenny" Harris (Courtesy of Jason Felder)
Homicide detectives have not determined exactly when and where Lenwood “Lenny” Harris, 53, was slain, though they believe he was shot and killed soon after he went missing in September, Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw said at a news conference Monday. Magaw said that after Harris died, his body was dumped down the well on a vacant property in the 11900 block of Old Fort Road.

Detectives were tipped to the body on Thursday, when someone called 911 anonymously to report it was there, authorities said. That launched a days-long excavation process, which ended Saturday when evidence technicians brought Harris’s remains above ground.

Police had long suspected foul play in Harris’s disappearance, and after his body was recovered, their suspicions were confirmed. An autopsy determined the well-known community activist was murdered, authorities said. Magaw said Monday that the medical examiner attributed the cause of death to a gunshot, and that Harris’s body had been in the well “an extended period of time.”

(The Root D.C.: Remembering Lenny Harris)

Detectives are still working to track down suspects and a motive in the case, though they seem to have several leads. A tattooed man was caught on an ATM surveillance camera using Harris’s bank card hours after he disappeared, and police found Harris’s cell phone on the Woodrow Wilson bridge.

On Monday, Magaw said investigators were working to identify the 911 caller and pursue other leads. He said whoever dumped Harris down the well “obviously knows the area,” because it is secluded and the home on the property has been vacant since 1996.

Prince George’s County homicide detectives are working jointly with Alexandria police to investigate the case. At Monday’s news conference, Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook said he knew Harris personally, and his thoughts were with the community activist’s family.

“He was well-known,” Cook said. “Mr. Harris actually greatly affected Alexandria.”

Harris was last seen Sept. 21 at an Alexandria recreation center, Cook said. He said Harris was “going about a normal routine,” when he suddenly vanished.

“We had no indication that anything horrible was about to happen,” Cook said.

A reward of up to $38,000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case, said Prince George’s County police spokeswoman Julie Parker. Those with information are asked to call the Prince George’s Police Department’s Homicide Unit at 301-772-4925.

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By  |  12:33 PM ET, 01/30/2012

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