The case of a missing Northern Virginia activist brought about a grisly discovery of a body in the bottom of a well near Fort Washington, Md., that police soon identified as Lenwood “Lenny” Harris (pictured). An arrest was made on Tuesday in the case, with Prince George’s County police detectives charging Linwood Johnson of Oxon Hill with murder.
While Johnson, 49, was arrested and sits in Prince George’s County jail as he awaits formal charges, police say Johnson and Harris were familiar with one another. Authorities also state that Johnson did not carry out the crime alone and are searching for other suspects.
Police suspected a cover-up after records show a man on camera using Harris’ bankcard and later discovering his cell phone on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. An anonymous tip led police to the well, which sat on a vacant property where Harris’ body was found. Harris went missing last fall, and after a four-month search, his body was found last Saturday. On Monday, police officials revealed that Harris had been shot.
Harris was a fixture in the Del Ray section of Alexandria, which is home to several low-income housing developments as well as middle-class neighborhoods like the affluent Old Town just a few blocks away. Harris founded non-profit Operation Hope, taking the lead as a voice for lower-income residents, who, he felt, were being pushed out by developers to build expensive homes in the area. Harris’ program also offered life skills to local residents.
On a Facebook tribute page, hundreds of people fondly remembered Harris as a genuine activist who cared about the neighborhood and the direction it was heading.
“There is a big loss in Alexandria. Not many left willing to speak truth to power,” said former Alexandria city council woman Joyce Woodson. “Pray for his family and thank God Lenny was with us here to help us see the light … if only for a short time.”
Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille echoed the same sentiment. “He was a very dedicated, concerned individual who was a great mentor for our youth and young adults,” said Euille to the Washington Post. “He was a strong advocate for the folks who are less-fortunate. He will be missed, and hopefully his legacy will be carried on by others.”