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Police charge YS resident with Timothy Harris murder

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After a lengthy investigation by the Yellow Springs Police Department, the Greene County Prosecutor last week charged Phillip K. Cordell with the 2004 murder of local resident Timothy Harris. Cordell, 48, has been incarcerated at the Greene County Jail on unrelated burglary charges since 2005. He is a Yellow Springs resident.

Harris was found in his home on Stafford Street on Dec. 16, 2004 several days after he died from a blunt force trauma to the head. Soon after police began the investigation, Harris’s car was found in a scrap yard in Xenia, and though no suspects were named, police indicated as early as 2005 that they had a “person of interest,” whose location was secure.

Last week’s announcement came just a week before Cordell was scheduled for release from prison, but Assistant Prosecutor Suzanne Schmidt would only say that her department felt they finally had “sufficient evidence to approve the charges.”

Cordell and Harris knew each other and might have once considered themselves friends, Harris’s sister Cynthia said on Friday. Harris often allowed people who needed a place to stay to use his house for a night or two, or until they could make other arrangements, said Cynthia, who shared the Stafford Street house with her brother from 1998 until she moved to Dayton Street several months before he was killed. Cordell and Harris would sometimes “do stuff” together, and Cordell also stayed at the Harrises’ house several times, she said.

Harris drank alcohol and occasionally smoked marijuana, Cynthia said in a previous interview with the News. But he never used hard drugs, and would have openly disapproved of friends who did get involved with dangerous and criminal substances, she said.

Cordell grew up in Yellow Springs with his parents, Victor and Evelyn Cordell on Northwood Drive. He graduated from Yellow Springs High School and was living in Yellow Springs when the murder occurred. He has previously been convicted of domestic violence, drug abuse and burglary crimes, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Because the case has not yet been adjudicated, Yellow Springs Police Chief John Grote would not comment on the relationship between Cordell and Harris, or any motive that might have provoked a murder.

Cordell was arraigned in Xenia Municipal Court on Monday, Nov. 10. He will next plead his case before a Greene County Grand Jury.

Harris Memorial Fund

In memory of Timothy Harris, last year Cynthia and Andrea Treolo, a childhood friend of the Harrises,’ established a nonprofit organization called the Timothy A. Harris Memorial Fund. Through contributions made in honor of Harris, the fund will benefit one organization each year that provides arts programs and services to children in the area.

“Timmy is missed so much, and we really wanted to do something positive in his memory,” Treolo said. “Two of Tim’s favorite things were music and children, so I thought it would be nice to raise money in Tim’s name to be used to benefit children and the arts.”

The group’s first recipient this year is Muzika, a nonprofit group that provides arts programs for at-risk children in Springfield. Muzika’s Director Par Tolliver (one of John Legend’s first music teachers) was recently featured on “Good Morning America.” His program provides instruction in music, dance, photography and painting, through volunteer teachers, who also hold “jam sessions” every month at Un Mundo Cafe in Springfield. Learn more about Muzika at

Treolo has met Yellow Springs residents and friends of Harris at Muzika’s jam sessions, and the Harris Fund is still looking for contributions of either musical instruments or money to purchase instruments. The fund is registered as a 501(c)3, and contributions can be mailed to the Timothy A. Harris Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 413, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387. For more information, contact Treolo at or 937-408-8478.

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