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Death of Major Harris ruled a homicide by Milwaukee County Medical Examiner

Major Harris
Posted at 1:00 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 19:34:42-04

MILWAUKEE — As new details emerge about how Major Harris died, there is more heartbreak.

Members of the Harris family, including Major’s father, Carlton, gathered near 35th and Rohr Friday evening to pray together and release balloons up into the sky, in honor of the three-year-old.

Investigators confirm Major was found in a storage bin, in an alley near 35th and Rohr Thursday afternoon. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed Friday that Major had been shot in the head.

Carlton Harris
Carlton Harris

“I got a phone call telling me my son’s cause of death,” Carlton Harris said. “My son was shot in the head. A three-year-old baby. A three-year-old baby with a speech impediment, who could barely talk, was shot in the head.”

Harris was overcome with emotion as he addressed the media Friday. He was surrounded by family and community advocates.


“Pray for this city, please,” he said. “Pray for the evils of this city. In the beginning of all this, I asked God to bring my son back to me, one way or another.”

Though Harris' goal was to find his son alive, he now vows to make sure Major's memory lives on, and that his horrific death prompts change.

“I stand here today and I’m telling you, I want to make my son the last one,” he said. “This can’t happen to another child, another family. It’s a loss that’s not going to be forgotten or swept under the rug. I refuse to let that happen.”

Harris plans to hire an attorney. He believes the Milwaukee Police Department did not handle this investigation properly from the start.

Major Harris
This undated photo distributed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice shows, Major P. Harris. Milwaukee police are searching for Harris, a 3-year-old boy after his mother was killed and the man who was a person of interest in her slaying was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Wisconsin Department of Justice via AP)

Community advocates also shared disappointment that no elected officials or city leaders joined the searches, and that Major’s disappearance never got national attention.

“How is this whole case looked at as anything but a failure?” Harris asked. “This is an epic failure. I will get justice for my son. The only people I want to thank are the residents of this city who came out and helped look for Major, and helped my family with somewhere to stay, and food to eat.”

We asked Milwaukee's Acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman about those concerns, and the investigation.

“There is a sense of urgency” Norman said. “But it's always pushing back a narrative that we're not doing enough. I know that right now there are a lot of questions regarding where we’re at with the investigation. It's a very fluid investigation. We are working on every angle in regard to what has happened leading up to the deaths of Mallery Muenzenberger and her son Major.”

Poster image (17).jpg

Norman went on to say: “It's very traumatic. And we all understand. We are parents and residents of this city too. As acting chief of the police department, you do everything you would do for your own child. We pulled recruit officers out of class to search. Beyond Milwaukee, we searched in Dane county. We searched in Germantown. And I know it's never enough, but if I can put anything out there, it’s that the men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department work extremely hard, around the clock, to get some resolution and answers for the families involved.”

Major had been missing for a week, ever since his mother, Mallery Muenzenberger, was found shot to death last Thursday. Since they are from La Crosse, it took authorities a little extra time to identify Muenzenberger and notify her family. When they did make contact last Saturday, they learned Major was missing and issued the Amber Alert.

Major Harris and Mallery Muenzenberger

Two men in their 20s remain in police custody, tied to this case. They have not been charged. Four others who were arrested are no longer in police custody.

As we all wait for more answers, we're learning Mallery and Major will be buried side by side in La Crosse. A mother and son, whose lives were cut tragically short.

We've been in touch with the Muenzenberger family in La Crosse as well. They want to thank Milwaukee Police for their efforts, and they want to thank community members who searched and prayed for Major.

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