Mid-South family looks for answers after daughter's murder

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - At age thirty-one Kerri Harris's family says her life was going well.

"She was a food scientist and got her business degree," her mother, Marcle Wicks said. "She wanted to help people."
 
Recently Harris, a Kirby High School graduate, completed her master's degree, and was up for a major promotion at Cargill in Atlanta.  Everything was, perfect her family says, except for a co-worker, Craig Armstead, who kept giving her extravagant gifts.

"She was steadily returning these items to him," her sister, Stacey Young, said.

Jason Wicks, her brother, added that Harris reported the gifts numerous times.

According to police, on June 26, instead of bringing another gift, Armstead brought a butcher knife, and killed Harris in her office at lunch time.

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

Harris' family soon discovered Kerri was not Armstead's first victim.  On his criminal record - a conviction for killing his ex-girlfriend with a hammer, and leaving her in a shallow grave.  He was convicted of manslaughter in 1992, after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

In 2000, he was convicted for looking over a stall in a women's restroom.

"This company had information that could have protected by daughter," Marcle Wicks said.

The night before Harris' murder, a co-worker discovered a camera in the women's restroom at Cargill.

"The police were literally in the building minutes before my sister was murdered, and they left," Jason Harris said.

Investigators say Armstead installed the camera.  In addition to murder, he is charged with 21 counts of unlawful surveillance.

Harris' family has filed a lawsuit against Cargill.

Action News 5 asked Cargill's spokesperson if the company should have noticed Armstead's warning signs, and why they hired someone with a manslaughter conviction.

The spokesperson would only say quote, "We were all shocked by the incident, it truly was a tragedy."

Armstead will face his criminal charges in court in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday.

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