Grieving Memphis family sues Cargill over workplace murder

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - Kerri Harris' grieving family is searching for answers.

The 31-year-old Memphis native was murdered in June after she rejected romantic advances from a co-worker, a man with a disturbing criminal record.

Harris' family says her murder could've been prevented if only her company had spotted numerous warning signs.

Harris was a Kirby High School graduate who later moved to Atlanta, where she worked as a quality assurance manager for Cargill. She had just completed her master's degree and was expecting a big promotion at work.

Her family says she was smart and ambitious with a smile that lit up a room.

Police say that on June 26, 2008, co-worker Craig Armstead killed Harris in her office during lunch time.

"The first blow stabbed her in the back pierced her heart," said brother Jason Wicks Harris.

Harris told her family about Armstead's repeated advances.

"He was baking her cookies, cakes, candies...buying her gifts," said sister Stacey Young.

Harris' family says Armstead even tried to give her a palm pilot. She refused the gifts and reported the incidents to her human resources manager.

"She told Kerri it would be easier for her to accept the gift from him," said Wicks Harris.
Harris' family says that, not only should Cargill have fired Armstead after Harris' complaints, but they should never have hired him in the first place.
"I want this company to please step up and put things in place so this does not happen again," said Harris' mother.

Court records and newspaper articles show that Armstead was convicted of beating his ex-girlfriend to death with a hammer and leaving her in a shallow grave.

He served five years for manslaughter.

"If Kerri had known this man was this type of predator, she would have made sure he was nowhere in her world," her brother said.

Harris' family has filed a lawsuit against Cargill.

Click here to e-mail Lori Brown.