According to The Seattle Times, a body believed to be that of Tony Harris, a former Washington State University basketball star who disappeared in Brazil recently, was found in that country today, according to the FBI in Seattle.
Brazilian news media reported that Harris had been found about 50 miles east of Brasilia, the country’s capitol.
There were conflicting reports about the discovery. One television-station Web site reported that his body was found hanging from a tree, while a newspaper reported he was found in the bushes with an electrical cord tied to his neck.
FBI spokeswoman Robbie Burroughs in Seattle said Brazilian law-enforcement officials notified an FBI agent assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Brazil that Harris’ body had been found at an outdoor location. Burroughs said she didn’t know details about where the body was found or the cause of death.
Harris was tentatively identified based on the body’s physical description and clothing, Burroughs said.
The FBI agent in Brazil planned to visit the scene Monday with Brazilian investigators, Burroughs said. The FBI was monitoring the investigation being conducted by Brazilian authorities.
The FBI spent several hours at the Kent home of Lori Harris, Harris’ wife, on Sunday, according to Connie Pace, Harris’ mother-in-law. The phones had been busy all day with questions and reports about Harris.
"We don’t know anything except that they did find a young man dead; they did not confirm that it was him,"said Pace.
Her husband, Guy Pace, went to Brazil on Saturday and was scheduled to go to the scene on Monday to identify the body. "They should have a lot more answers after that."
Pace called the last two weeks "horrendous."
"We have just been trying to keep it together," she said. "You don’t ever realize, when you hear things like this on the news, what is happening with people. You think, ‘Oh, that must be awful.’ You have no idea what it is to live it.
"The biggest thing for us is we need some answers. Of course we want him to come home alive. But knowing is better than never knowing." She said the family’s strong religious faith has kept them going. "We know we have people praying for him all over the world," she said. "He is blanketed in prayer."
Harris left Seattle on Oct. 31 to play basketball for a professional team in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, where he had previously played for several years. The former Cougar guard, who led WSU to the NCAA tournament in 1994, had most recently been living in Kent. He had worked at a juvenile-detention center but was recently laid off, his wife said. Harris was supposed to return to Washington for a visit in December. The couple have a child due next month.
Harris was anxious only days after arriving in Brazil and talked about wanting to come home, Lori Harris said last week.
The last time he was playing in Brazil, "he didn’t leave on good terms," she said. "He heard that his old coach said some things that were not true, [things] that could put him at risk." She declined to give further details.
Harris couldn’t leave because the team was holding his passport, she said, so his plan was to stay with a friend in northern Brazil and wait for a replacement passport.
Lori Harris said she last heard from her husband about two weeks ago, when he was on the way to the friend’s house. He used a Brazilian taxi driver’s cellphone on his last call to his wife. He told her he loved her and would talk to her later, she recalled.