The body found in the trunk of a burning car in Atlanta on July 14 has been identified as the missing Newton County man, 49-year-old Gregory Vernon Harris, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed.
Harris had been reported missing from his Newton County home the day before his body was found by the Atlanta Police Department in a vehicle engulfed in flames.
The family member who filed a missing persons report with the Newton County Sheriff's Office said that Harris normally contacted his family daily. After several unanswered messages, she became worried and went to his home where she reportedly found items scattered about.
Atlanta police initially found the burning car in southwest Atlanta, and after the fire was extinguished, Atlanta firefighters found a charred body inside the trunk.
Mary Beth Hauptle, a doctor with the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office, confirmed Friday that Harris had been identified through fingerprints. His cause of death is listed as asphyxia due to smothering and has been ruled a homicide.
Because there is no clear crime scene in Newton County, Atlanta police will handle the homicide; however, sheriff's office Lt. Keith Crum said his office will cooperate fully with Atlanta in any way they may be needed during the investigation into Harris' murder.