Florida family reacts to suspect naming 38 years after sister killed

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Lora Huizar was 11 years old and only weighed about 90 pounds.Her brother and sister said she was both likable and loveable. But despite being older than her, they also said everybody knew not to make her mad.“She was feisty, outspoken,” said Lora’s sister, Michelle Solis. “She was not the type of girl to be tricked to get in someone’s car.”In the headlines: Fire destroys illegal marijuana-growing operation in Martin CountyThat’s why it was such a shock when Lora disappeared in November of 1983 while walking near the family’s Fort Pierce home. Her body was found a few days later near the corner of Midway and Shinn roads.For nearly 40 years, her murder remained unsolved.Until now.Thursday, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office announced they believe a deceased former deputy and pastor, James Harrison, is responsible for Lora’s death.“We have established probable cause to determine that Harrison abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered the juvenile victim,” said Chief Deputy Brian Hester.“It naturally was like a disbelief, a dream,” Lora’s older brother, Joe Huizar, said of the news. “After all this time, you’re telling me you’re able to tell us who murdered our little sister?”Stay informed: Local coverage from WPBF 25 NewsThe Huizar family said they are so grateful to Detective Paul Taylor, the cold case detective credited with solving the case.Video below: Detective Paul Taylor shares emotional testimony about solving the caseBut they said they’re also so frustrated with what they believe was a shoddy investigation at the time Lora was killed.At Thursday’s news conference, investigators said Harrison was the last person to see Lora alive, having reported seeing her walking on the street. They said he was also the first deputy to arrive on the scene when Lora’s body was found. Investigators said Harrison instructed the two people who found the body to leave. And after that, no detective ever spoke to those witnesses until Taylor picked up the case two years ago.“There was tears,” Taylor said. “They started crying and said, ‘I see that little girl lying there every time I close my eyes.’”The witnesses told a different story than what Harrison had said in 1983. Police now believe Harrison moved Lora’s body in an attempt to destroy physical evidence. That’s when Taylor started to suspect Harrison as the killer.“I would love for him to be alive right now, because, in my 30 years of law enforcement, there is nobody else I’d rather have in the box interviewing than him,” Taylor said.Around the country: National coverage from WPBF 25 NewsThe Huizar family said they’d love to talk to Harrison, too. But they’d also love to question the detectives who originally investigated the case in 1983.“From our perspective, things were purposefully overlooked and not done,” Solis said. “There are such humongous gaps in the investigation.”Taylor said Harrison worked for 10 different law enforcement agencies in Florida. He believes Harrison used the uniform to prey on young girls.Video below: Sheriff Ken Mascara discusses Harrison’s possible abuse of powerTaylor said police departments around the state are now checking their own cold cases because they believe there were other victims.Anyone with information regarding Harrison and his possible involvement in any case is asked to case the St. Lucie County Criminal Investigation Division at 772-462-3230.

Lora Huizar was 11 years old and only weighed about 90 pounds.

Her brother and sister said she was both likable and loveable. But despite being older than her, they also said everybody knew not to make her mad.

“She was feisty, outspoken,” said Lora’s sister, Michelle Solis. “She was not the type of girl to be tricked to get in someone’s car.”

In the headlines: Fire destroys illegal marijuana-growing operation in Martin County

That’s why it was such a shock when Lora disappeared in November of 1983 while walking near the family’s Fort Pierce home. Her body was found a few days later near the corner of Midway and Shinn roads.

For nearly 40 years, her murder remained unsolved.

Until now.

Thursday, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office announced they believe a deceased former deputy and pastor, James Harrison, is responsible for Lora’s death.

“We have established probable cause to determine that Harrison abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered the juvenile victim,” said Chief Deputy Brian Hester.

“It naturally was like a disbelief, a dream,” Lora’s older brother, Joe Huizar, said of the news. “After all this time, you’re telling me you’re able to tell us who murdered our little sister?”

Stay informed: Local coverage from WPBF 25 News

The Huizar family said they are so grateful to Detective Paul Taylor, the cold case detective credited with solving the case.

Video below: Detective Paul Taylor shares emotional testimony about solving the case


But they said they’re also so frustrated with what they believe was a shoddy investigation at the time Lora was killed.

At Thursday’s news conference, investigators said Harrison was the last person to see Lora alive, having reported seeing her walking on the street.

They said he was also the first deputy to arrive on the scene when Lora’s body was found. Investigators said Harrison instructed the two people who found the body to leave. And after that, no detective ever spoke to those witnesses until Taylor picked up the case two years ago.

“There was tears,” Taylor said. “They started crying and said, ‘I see that little girl lying there every time I close my eyes.’”

The witnesses told a different story than what Harrison had said in 1983. Police now believe Harrison moved Lora’s body in an attempt to destroy physical evidence. That’s when Taylor started to suspect Harrison as the killer.

“I would love for him to be alive right now, because, in my 30 years of law enforcement, there is nobody else I’d rather have in the box interviewing than him,” Taylor said.

Around the country: National coverage from WPBF 25 News

The Huizar family said they’d love to talk to Harrison, too. But they’d also love to question the detectives who originally investigated the case in 1983.

“From our perspective, things were purposefully overlooked and not done,” Solis said. “There are such humongous gaps in the investigation.”

Taylor said Harrison worked for 10 different law enforcement agencies in Florida. He believes Harrison used the uniform to prey on young girls.

Video below: Sheriff Ken Mascara discusses Harrison’s possible abuse of power


Taylor said police departments around the state are now checking their own cold cases because they believe there were other victims.

Anyone with information regarding Harrison and his possible involvement in any case is asked to case the St. Lucie County Criminal Investigation Division at 772-462-3230.



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