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Annual vigil held for DeLange Harris

For seven years, Dora Harris has been a woman with a mission.

On May 3, 2011 her son, DeLange Harris, was found dead from a gunshot wound in a ditch on Athens Church Road near Glenwood three days after his 25th birthday.

The Harris family has held an annual prayer vigil at Delange Harris’ gravesite for friends, church members and anyone else to attend and pray for justice and peace.

His gravesite is located at Star of Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Luverne.

Pastor Willie O. Edwards, who Dora Harris says was close with both of her children, approached Harris initially to hold the prayer vigil.

DeLange Harris was born in 1986, and is Dora’s second child. He is ten years younger than his sister Apredee.

DeLange Harris was a graduate of Brantley High School and, according to his mother, enjoyed music and playing sports and was an All-American scholar.

Harris said the prayer vigil helps bring the family together and give them hope.

“We’re a praying people, we believe in prayer,” she explained.

Harris says the trip to the scene of the murder “changed the dynamics” in her head.

As she approached with her daughter, they noticed the ambulance and other vehicles were not headed in the direction of the hospital.

Initially the two had not been told specifically that DeLange was deceased, but that he had been “beat up” and was injured.

“As we approached the fork in the road, I said [to Apredee], ‘…this doesn’t look right, baby. Your brother might be dead,” Harris recalled.

Then, seeing that her daughter was upset, she remembers saying, “listen, if your brother is dead it is for God’s purpose, and we don’t know what that is. We’ll understand it when he lets us know.”

“God had to allow it, for it to happen. It was for His purpose whether it was to bring [DeLange] home with Him and out of this world of troubles or to help somebody else to find themselves,” Harris concluded.

Harris, despite the lack of results, has not yet given up hope.

She has spent years speaking with people that knew her son, frequently asking them to “tell me a story about DeLange.”

She emphasizes that the vigil and her quest for justice “is not just for prayer, not just for keeping his memory alive, but about keeping information about [the case] out there.”

“Somebody out there knows what happened and hasn’t said anything,” Harris concluded.

Crenshaw County Sheriff Mickey Powell, who was not in office at the time of the murder, was a schoolmate of Dora Harris and “speaks with her frequently,” he said.

“This case is not a cold case, it has never been a cold case,” Powell said, “we have the attorney general’s office, the state, and the Sherriff’s office involved in it.”

Powell said the attorney general’s office was involved in the investigation when he took office and “has continued to be involved.”

“Several investigators with the Attorney General’s Office have been by to review the case” Powell said. “The more people that look at it, they may see something that someone else hasn’t picked up on.”

The reward for information leading to an arrest in the case was recently raised to $1,000, making for a total of $21,000 for an arrest and conviction.

Delange Harris’ father, John, is also offering an additional $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.