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Investigators: Human remains found near Montezuma, clothing consistent with Xavior Harrelson

Law enforcement agencies in an area of Poweshiek County northwest of Montezuma, Iowa, on...
Law enforcement agencies in an area of Poweshiek County northwest of Montezuma, Iowa, on September 30, 2021. (KCCI-TV)(KCCI-TV)
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 5:00 PM CDT
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POWESHIEK COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG/KCCI) - Officials confirm that human remains found Thursday northwest of Montezuma appear to be those of a juvenile and clothing matches the description of missing 11-year-old Xavior Harrelson.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office received a report from a farmer of human remains discovered in a field south of the intersection of Ewart Road at 110th Street. Investigators confirmed that the remains appeared the be those of a juvenile and clothing found at the scene was similar to what Xavior Harrelson was reportedly wearing when he disappeared on May 27, just days before his 11th birthday.

“It moves us into another stage of the investigation so in that sense we are moving foward,” Poweshiek County Sheriff Thomas Kriegel of the discovery.

Investigators said the field was not an area that had been previously searched in the months since Xavior’s disappearance.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says agents are still looking for Xavior Harrelson.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says agents are still looking for Xavior Harrelson.

Officials said they are working to confirm the identification of the remains and the cause of death but said they could not confirm it was Xavior. The Harrelson family has been contacted following Thursday’s discovery.

“My detective talked to Sarah Harrelson (Xavior’s mother) and naturally she was upset,” Sheriff Kriegel said.

Mitch Mortvedt with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said the body had been in the location for a “significant” amount of time and an investigation could take several weeks to confirm the identity of the body and cause of death.

A family friend reported Harrelson on May 27th. He was last seen riding his bike near the home in Montezuma where he lives with his mother just days before his 11th birthday. Investigators kept in regular contact with Harrelson’s mother who said she had no idea where Harrelson might have gone. Friends said Harrelson acted as a caretaker for his mother, Sarah, and described him as kind and caring with her.

“He would often say how he needs to be with mom and help out home and all those things,” Marie Bolten, one of the teachers, said days after his disappearance.

His mother pleaded for her son’s safe return in August while helping to pass out fliers.

“We love you,” she said. “We are not going to stop looking for you.”

Hundreds of people helped search areas around Montezuma in the days after Harrelson was reported missing. Community fundraisers, including a concert, collected donations for a reward fund topping $34,000 for information leading to Harrelson. His disappearance even became part of defense theories in an appeal of Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s conviction in the murder of Mollie Tibbetts.

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