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North Aurora man charged with murdering father

North AurorKane County Sheriff's police hold murder suspect gunpoint garage home 700 block Jorstad Drive Tanner Trails subdivisiNorth AurorMonday August

North Aurora and Kane County Sheriff's police hold a murder suspect at gunpoint in the garage of a home on the 700 block of Jorstad Drive in the Tanner Trails subdivision in North Aurora on Monday, August 20, 2012. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 30, 2012 11:05AM

A North Aurora man who apparently hid in his garage for hours while helicopters and airplanes searched for him was charged with murdering his father Monday.

Martell Harris, 23, of the 700 block of Jorstad Lane, was charged with two counts of first degree murder in the death of his father, Michael Harris Sr., 41, of the same address. The attack set off a massive search in the North Aurora area, with police planes and helicopters scouring nearby fields and wooded areas.

The incident began around 10:12 a.m. Monday, when police were called to a two-story, single-family home in the Tanner Trails subdivision on the village’s far west side. When officers arrived they found Michael Harris Sr. on the front porch of his home, unresponsive. He had been stabbed once in the chest, police said. He was taken to Provena Mercy Medical Center in Aurora, where he was pronounced dead at 10:46 a.m.

According to North Aurora Deputy Chief Scott Buziecki, several witnesses reported seeing Martell Harris run out the back of the house, toward nearby cornfields or a wooded area. Around the same time, a police officer saw someone run out of the wooded area, then duck back into the woods, Buziecki said.

While officers searched the house, the witness reports led police to issue a community alert, Buziecki said. Police initially described the suspect as a black man, 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, 23- or 24-years-old. Police issued a warning that the suspect was armed and dangerous. Schools in the area were put on lockdown and police advised residents to stay inside.

Aurora, North Aurora and Kane County officers were called to the scene. A helicopter from Homeland Security circled the area, swooping down to less than 100 feet off the ground behind neighbor’s houses and flying low over an area of waist-high grasses and small trees across from the Lake Run Forest Preserve. Higher up, a plane from the Illinois State Police circled. Cook County sheriff’s office dogs tried to pick up a scent in the back yard of the Harris home.

By 1 p.m., about a dozen officers were standing in the street or on the driveway in front of the house, which is near the intersection with Sterkel Road. The garage door was open and one car was parked in the driveway. There was yellow police tape blocking off most of the road.

Around 1:35 p.m., a police officer near the house was somehow alerted that someone was in the garage. Buziecki later said he did not know how the officer spotted the person. Buziecki said the man had apparently been hiding under debris in the garage.

One officer began yelling “Come out! Come out with your hands up!”

At least three officers drew their guns and pointed them at the man who was in the back of the garage. The man raised his hands and appeared to follow police commands. No shots were fired and no one was injured. The officers slowly approached the man, who eventually knelt down and was handcuffed. He was wearing plaid shorts, a white shirt and white shoes. With his hands cuffed behind his back, officers led him to a squad car that had been parked at the end of the driveway.

The man was later identified as the murder suspect, Martell Harris. Around 1:45 p.m., he was briefly taken out of the police car, where police spoke to him for a few minutes, then put back in the car. He remained alone in the back of the squad car for almost an hour before an officer drove him to the station. Murder charges were approved late Monday afternoon, according to Kane County prosecutors.

Martell Harris does not appear to have any criminal history in Kane County. Family members could not be reached for comment and neighbors either declined to comment or said they did not know the family.

Buziecki said there were other residents home at the time of the stabbing, but they had left the house hours before Martell Harris was arrested. Buziecki said police had searched the home earlier and he was not sure how they did not see Martell Harris.

“I’m at a loss for words,” he said. “We’ll have to sort through facts and answer that at a later time.”

Martell Harris was expected to be at bond call this morning in Kane County.

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