Clay County detectives: Finding Somer's killer
Investigators say they had 'gut instinct' Jarred Harrell killed 7-year-old girl
Months before Jarred Harrell was interrogated by detectives in a room at the Clay County Sheriff's Office, investigators said they had an idea he was the man who kidnapped and murdered 7-year-old Somer Thompson.
Those investigators who were on Team Somer spoke Wednesday for the first time since Harrell's guilty plea and life sentence last month.
They said they had 11 possible suspects, but Sgt. Ken West said he had a hunch when he talked to Harrell in his driveway in the days after the killing.
"At that point, just gut instinct," West said. "No physical evidence at that time, just gut instinct talking with him, the way he answered our questions, and the fact at that point in time he denied giving us his DNA. We had a true indication and true police gut feeling he was who we were looking for."
UNCUT VIDEO: Clay County detectives' interview with Harrell (contains graphic descriptions)
DOCUMENTS (contain graphic material): Harrell arrest warrant | Lewd and lascivious investigation
DNA analysis | Computer, digital camera analysis | Sketch of house
IMAGES: Evidence, Jarred Harrell's interview | SPECIAL SECTION: Justice For Somer
Harrell eventually gave them DNA evidence and then took off to Mississippi.
"We were concerned he was trying to flee, but we knew where he was and we had eyes on him," Sgt. Wayne McKinney said. "At that point, we knew we needed to get him before he goes too far."
Or before he committed another crime, McKinney said.
Harrell was arrested in Mississippi, and investigators interviewed him in an unmarked vehicle on the way back to Clay County.
"We had stopped at a rest area for him to use the restroom, and at that point he told us she was in his house," West said. "At that point, we did not push him. We did not want to judge him or hit him with rapid questions, so we put him in the car and drove home."
Investigators then conducted the interview with Harrell at the Sheriff's Office, and they said Harrell's wasn't worried about Somer's murder.
"He was more afraid of his mom and family, but really his mother, what she was going to think about the molestation charges and the circumstances of some of those molestation charges," West said.
According to the detectives, before Harrell killed Somer, he had been watching child pornography all day in his house.
"He likes child pornography. He described he had sat in the home all day and likes child pornography, and I believe she was just a victim of circumstance," West said. "It was an opportunity and he took that opportunity."
All those involved say what they discovered in this case is how prevalent child pornography is in the area and how that pornography affected Harrell.
"He saw her as an object, not a human being," McKinney said.
"He was not really worried about what he had done. He was more worried that he got caught," West said.
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