Truck driver ran over woman, dumped body near truck stop in Mitchell , authorities say

Mar. 14—EDITOR'S NOTE — This story contains disturbing information from a police affidavit.

MITCHELL — An arrest warrant has been issued for a truck driver alleged to be involved in the death of a woman found Monday at a Mitchell truck stop.

An arrest affidavit says the woman was run over multiple times and dismembered before being found by another truck driver under a pile of pallets at the I-90 Travel Center, near the city's water tower. Authorities were called to the scene at approximately 11 p.m. Monday, March 11.

Anthony Melvin Harris, Sr., 60, of Detroit, was contacted by Washington State Troopers at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in the same semi and trailer he was reportedly spotted with on video surveillance. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley on Thursday in a visit to Mitchell said Harris, Sr., has been apprehended and is in custody.

The victim was identified as Melody Faye Gooch, of Detroit, a 57-year-old woman who was identified by running her fingerprints through an

Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

Jackley is asking for the public's help for any evidence or knowledge about the case. When asked if the alleged murder and victim had any ties to Mitchell, Jackley said law enforcement is requesting information about any sighting of Gooch "in the Mitchell-Spencer area."

"Beyond that there are no known significant ties at this time," Jackley said.

Harris, Sr., has been charged in Davison County with second-degree murder and improper disposal. Second-degree murder is a Class B felony, which, if convicted, is punishable by mandatory life in prison.

The affidavit says local police were called to the scene and noted "it appeared the deceased person was struck by a vehicle in the parking lot where the human entrails were located. Around the human entrails was blood spatter consistent with a person being struck by a vehicle and then dragged away from the initial impact point."

Officers watched surveillance video and noticed a truck making suspicious movements in the lot for about 30 to 35 minutes. The truck was seen leaving the area at about 6:06 p.m. and heading westbound on Interstate 90.

"We were able, through additional good police work, looking at videos, further efforts, including working with officials from other states, make a determination and arrive to a point where we were able to, (Thursday), get search warrants, arrest warrants, and ultimately put suspect Anthony Harris in custody," Jackley said.

When officers returned to the scene in the daylight, they found bloody shoes and a garbage sack containing the victim's head. Video surveillance also showed the same semi that was making suspicious movements stopping at the dumpster "for a period of time," court documents say.

The victim had no identification, no cell phone and no other personal belongings.

Gooch's body was sent to a forensic pathologist for examination, which concluded that Gooch did not die from any other trauma than being hit, struck or run over by a vehicle.

When Gooch's family members were contacted, they identified Harris, Sr., as the person she was last known to be with, according to the affidavit. Harris, Sr., reportedly told her family members that she went into a store for food and never came back out. He also told family that he found her cell phone in the door pocket of his cab and the phone was broken, and that he did not know where she was located.

DCI agents contacted Harris, Sr.'s trucking company, Transfinity Logistics, Inc., and provided his daily logbook records, which showed he traveled 22 miles east/northeast of Mitchell at approximately 6:50 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, and "shut down" at 7:05 p.m., court documents say. The logbook showed he was at the same location of the Travel Center parking lot at the time of the alleged crimes.

Bond for Harris, Sr., was set at $250,000.

"This investigation was a multi-agency effort, and without that cooperation we wouldn't be where we are today," Mitchell Police Chief Mike Koster said. "We've covered a lot of ground in the last few days to get a suspect in custody very quickly."

Jackley said he is working closely with the Davison County State's Attorney's Office on the case, but the attorney general also acknowledged that Harris, Sr., could be extradited and face charges elsewhere.