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Investigators Positively Identify Remains As Missing Iowa 10-Year-Old Xavior Harrelson
Xavior Harrelson--whose case was thrust into the spotlight this summer amid speculation his disappearance could be linked to Mollie Tibbetts' murder--was reported missing by a family friend on May 27.
Authorities have positively identified human remains found in an Iowa field as those of missing 10-year-old Xavior Harrelson.
Harrelson was reported missing from his Montezuma home by a family friend on May 27, just days before his 11th birthday, according to a statement from the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office.
A soy bean farmer stumbled upon the remains in a nearby field on Sept. 30 and reported it to authorities, according to The Des Moines Register. Investigators said the rural area was about three miles outside of Montezuma.
Late last week, the sheriff’s office was notified by the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office that the remains had been positively identified as Harrelson—although investigators have yet to release a cause of death in the case.
Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, told the local paper that authorities were investigating it as a suspicious death.
Following the news, Montezuma Mayor Jacki Bolen told the news outlet that the community was “greatly saddened” to learn of the young boy’s passing.
“We will never forget Xavior and his kind heart,” she said, describing him as a joyful kid who was always able to make others laugh.
Shortly after he disappeared, Montezuma Elementary School Principal Kurt Hanna described Harrelson to CNN as someone who was “always wanting to make sure you’re in a good mood and having a smile on your face.”
He recalled Harrelson going from classroom to classroom saying goodbye to students and wishing them a great summer just before he mysteriously vanished.
In August, the young boy’s mother, Sarah Harrelson, told The Des Moines Register that the months not knowing what happened to him had been excruciating.
“Why him?” she asked.
It was the second time in recent memory that tragedy rocked the community. Just three years ago, 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts disappeared in Brooklyn, Iowa—just about 15 miles from Montezuma.
Her body was discovered in August of 2018 in a cornfield off the road. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who had worked at a farm nearby, was ultimately convicted of the murder earlier this year.
Before he was sentenced to life in prison in August, his attorneys had argued that her case may have been linked with Harrelson’s disappearance—a theory that investigators later dismissed.
Mortvedt denied any connection between the cases to local station WOI at the time and said the only commonality was that both victims lived in the same county.
“That’s the only thing that we have come up with at this point,” he said, also dismissing the theory that young boy’s disappearance had been connected to human trafficking.
At one point, more than 500 people, including 375 volunteers and 125 law enforcement officers, had joined the search to try to find the missing 10-year-old.
Oxygen.com reached out to Mortvedt to discuss the latest developments in the case, but did not receive an immediate response.