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No connection between chaplain and murder suspects, police say
Harris apparently offered ride
1205slaying2 sj
A balloon and plant were left by coworkers of murdered hospice chaplain Frank Harris Jr. near the embankment where his body was found early Monday. - photo by Stephen Gurr

Timeline of a tragedy

A timeline of events in the death of Clermont minister Frank Harris Jr. All times are approximate:

7:30 p.m. Sunday: Harris calls his wife from Gainesville to tell her he is giving two people a ride to Cleveland.

9:30 p.m. Sunday: A resident of the Laurel Ridge duplex apartments in Cleveland hears a loud commotion followed by a crashing noise. Later, a fight between Joey Dyer and neighbor Gary Workman results in police arresting Dyer on charges of simple battery and disorderly conduct.

Late Sunday night: A "be on the lookout" for Harris’ car is posted with area authorities after his wife reports that he failed to come home.

4 a.m. Monday: A Cleveland police officer finds Harris’ body on an embankment outside a vacant home near Dyer’s apartment. Harris is dead from crushing injuries and has a stab wound to the lower chest.

7 a.m. Monday: A Hall County sheriff’s deputy responding to a report of a suspicious car parked at a power line right-of-way finds Harris’ 2009 Toyota Corolla abandoned.

Monday afternoon: Dyer’s live-in girlfriend, 29-year-old Jennifer Dawn Lineberger, is arrested on charges of possessing the narcotic Percocet without a prescription.

Tuesday: Murder warrants against Dyer are obtained.

Wednesday: Murder warrants against Lineberger are obtained.

Sources: Cleveland Police Department,
White County Magistrate Court, White County coroner

CLEVELAND - A chaplain who was robbed, stabbed and run over in a Cleveland neighborhood Sunday apparently had no connection to his killers other than the gesture of kindness he extended to them, authorities confirmed Thursday.

Following several days of reluctance from authorities to describe how Frank Harris Jr. met up with murder defendants Joey Dyer and Jennifer Dawn Lineberger, Cleveland's police chief acknowledged during a news conference that it appeared Harris merely had offered a ride to the couple.

"That's what we understand," Chief John Foster said.

Dyer, 20, and Lineberger, 29, remain in the White County jail charged with felony murder, robbery and other offenses.

Foster explained that a police officer indicated in an incident report that the murder was not "stranger to stranger" because Harris met Dyer and Lineberger sometime before his death and offered them a ride.

Family members have said that Harris called his wife shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday to say he was giving two people a ride to Cleveland. Harris, a 44-year-old father of three who worked as a chaplain at Compassionate Hospice in Gainesville, was known to give rides to strangers.

Police believe Harris picked up Dyer and Lineberger at an undetermined location on Athens Highway in Gainesville and drove them some 20 miles to the duplex the couple shared at Laurel Ridge apartments, a cluster of low-income homes off Campbell Road about two miles from downtown Cleveland.

Sometime after arriving there, Harris was stabbed once in the lower chest, probably while inside his 2009 Toyota Corolla, then apparently ran from the car down a hill to escape his assailants, White County Coroner Ricky Barrett said. Harris was then struck by the car on an embankment outside a nearby vacant home and died from crushing injuries, Barrett said.

Dyer is accused of running Harris down with his car as he fled, according to arrest warrants. Lineberger is accused of assisting in the slaying.

Cleveland police revealed Thursday that Dyer was arrested on misdemeanor charges unrelated to the murder the night Harris was killed.

Officers responding to a fight between Dyer and a neighbor outside Dyer's apartment charged Dyer with simple battery and disorderly conduct and took him to jail Sunday night, where he has remained since. Authorities believe Dyer ran over Harris sometime before they responded to the call.

A neighbor of Dyer's, Dustin Culp, said he heard a loud commotion at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday and the sound of a car squealing off, followed by a crash.

"It sounded like he hit something out there," Culp said. "It was really loud."

Culp said he went outside to investigate the noise, but "he was already gone by the time I looked."

Harris' wife called authorities after he failed to arrive home and a lookout for an "overdue motorist" was posted sometime later that night. Harris' body was found by police about 4 a.m. the following morning.

Murder and robbery warrants were taken out against Dyer on Tuesday and against Lineberger on Wednesday. The two are accused of taking Harris' car, keys, wallet and laptop computer. They also face felony drug charges in connection with Lineberger's possession of the narcotic Percocet.