On Nov. 19, 2005, their son, 24-year-old Lennis Harris Jr., was shot to death along with three friends at a townhouse at 2222 Alpine Road in Durham.
According to an autopsy report, Harris and his cousin, Jonathon Skinner, each died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Both were shot twice -- each with gunshot wounds on their hands.
"It's a painful thing," said Donna-maria Harris of her stepson's death. "Very painful."
For the Harrises, the grief is fresh, but they wonder if that is true of the investigation. They said they vow to keep attention on the case until they get answers.
More than $10,000 has been offered for information leading to arrests and convictions in the case, but so far, police have not publicly identified any suspects or made any arrests.
"We were asked to keep (the case at a low-profile) because it may hamper the investigation," Lennis Harris said. "But that's not going to happen anymore. This is going to stay in the public eye if I have to stand on a street corner myself with a sign."
The family is still waiting on results of DNA samples taken from the crime scene, and said they are frustrated by all of the attention surrounding a rape investigation involving three of Duke University's lacrosse players.
"We were absolutely livid to find out that the DNA from the Duke rape case was being tested again by an outside agency that was being paid for," Donna-maria Harris said. "And we want basically the same kind of treatment."
Although the Harris family does not believe Durham police see the quadruple homicide case as a top priority, Durham City Manager Patrick Baker has said otherwise.
"(The Harrises) raise a very good point," Baker said. "To me, it is a high priority, and I will be meeting with Mr. Harris and listening to his concerns."
Baker said police are in the midst of the investigation and that, just as in the Duke lacrosse rape case, a full-time investigator has been assigned to it. He also said he hopes an arrest will take place "very shortly."
A call to the Durham Police Department about the investigation was not immediately returned.
Lennis Harris said he just wants an arrest in the case.
"There are murderers amongst us -- standing in line next to you when you buy your burgers, sitting in front of you and behind you in the theater," he said.
Police have said that three men were seen running from the area of the shooting after shots were heard. One was described as a black male with a light complexion, standing 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. He was wearing dark jeans and a black-and-white jacket.
The second man fleeing the scene was described as a stocky black male, standing 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds. He was wearing a burgundy flight jacket and jeans.
The third man was described as a black male with a medium complexion, standing 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 170 pounds. He was wearing a black flight jacket and blue jeans.
Investigators urge anyone with information about the case to contact the Durham Police Department at (919) 560-4440, ext. 259 or Durham CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.
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