Cedar Rapids man accused of murder
A stranded driver is facing a murder charge after cops found a bullet-riddled body in his car after he asked them to help jumpstart his vehicle.
Jihad Gasaway pulled his broken-down Chevrolet Malibu into a ditch on Interstate 80 in Iowa. Patrol officers found him trying to restart the car before the 23-year-old asked officers to help jumpstart his vehicle.
Gasaway then told them about a handgun before taking it out of his pocket, leading police to search his stranded car.
But they soon made a horrifying discovery after finding the bullet-riddled body of Kemp Harriel, 26, under a layer of dirty clothes in the passenger seat vehicle.
He was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering multiple gunshot wounds, police say.
Gasaway was quickly arrested and put into an Iowa State trooper’s car and during questioning at the Poweskiek County Sheriff’s Office, told officers he covered Harriel because he “thought he was very cold”.
He said: “I kept him warm because we were both cold, I just waited for the police,” according to the arrest report.
“I didn’t know (victim) was gone until I watched the police eyes and read his lips that’s when I started crying in the car. He was alive and talking to me.”
Cops noted despite his insistence, the suspect “did not notify anyone of the male subject inside the vehicle”, “did not call 911 to request medical assistance”, and did not inform officers about Harriel until they made the grim discovery.
Investigators have determined the shooting happened on the passenger side of the car after finding a 9mm shell casing in the front floorboard and two bullets inside the front passenger door.
The shell casing was also examined and was found to have been fired by the same gun found on Gasaway, according to the arrest report.
Harriel’s autopsy showed he died as a result of two gunshot wounds fired at close range, with the death ruled a homicide.
Gasaway was initially charged with abuse of a corpse before he was then charged with first-degree murder on Thursday after the death was ruled as a homicide.
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Tributes have flooded in for the victim on social media, with one friend writing he “did not deserve this”.
She wrote: “I am having such a hard time processing this.
“You were always so kind-hearted and genuine and always kept it 100 with me. One thing for sure you made sure everyone had a good time around you and you were always the life of the party.
“You will forever be missed and loved! RIP Kemp.”
Harriel’s loved ones have set up an online GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral costs, with nearly $3,000 already raised.
The fundraiser said: “He left his mark on anyone who ever met him. The most giving and kind soul always looked out for his loved ones and his friends.
“He was someone who cherished relationships and showed out. The type of person who made it his mission to make you smile.”
Gasaway has been arrested on charges of murder and abuse of a corpse in the death of Harriel, according to a statement from the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
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