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Human remains found in a field near Montezuma identified as Xavior Harrelson's

Kate Payne
Iowa's state medical examiner has confirmed that the human remains found in a field outside of Montezuma in September are those of 10-year-old Xavior Harrelson, who went missing in May. He death is being investigated as suspicious.

The Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner has confirmed that the human remains found in a farm field outside of Montezuma last month are that of 10-year-old Xavior Harrelson. Poweshiek County Sheriff Thomas Kriegel announced the findings in a press release issued on Friday.

“[T]he Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office was notified by the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s office that the human remains have been positively identified as those of Xavior Harrelson,” the statement reads. “The cause of death has not been released at this time.”

In May, Harrelson vanished from the Montezuma trailer park where he lived with his mother, disappearing just days before his 11th birthday. The boy is remembered as a happy child who got along well with others and loved to ride his bike, according to the Associated Press.

Harrelson’s disappearance shocked and saddened the small Iowa community of about 1,300, where many were still mourning the loss of 20 year old Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student who went missing in 2018 while on a run in her hometown of Brooklyn, 14 miles away.

In fact, Harrelson was reported missing during closing arguments of the trial of Tibbetts’ accused killer, a farmhand named Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who was ultimately convicted of first degree murder.

Soon, missing person signs once again papered shop windows, telephone poles, bulletin boards and yards in Poweshiek County, this time bearing Harrelson’s face instead of Tibbetts’. Orange ribbons in honor of Harrelson adorned trees and street lights, just as teal ribbons had memorialized Tibbetts.

Just days before the medical examiner’s finding was released, community members in Montezuma had gathered to replace some of the fading orange ribbons around town with bright new ones.

“[Xavior] is in our hearts and on our minds,” Montezuma Mayor Jacki Bolen wrote in a social media post documenting the event.

Harrelson’s death is being investigated as suspicious, the Des Moines Register reported.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter