Arrest announced in W. Fallowfield slaying

Hakeem Smith

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced the arrest of an Oxford man in the slaying of a man whose body was discovered in West Fallowfield last week.

Hogan announced Wednesday morning that Hakeem Smith faces charges  for the murder of Sam Algarin on Sept. 13.

Algarin’s lifeless body was found on the side of the road in West Fallowfield Township, dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest. During the course of an intensive multi-day investigation, police eventually located video of the defendant with the victim’s vehicle minutes after the murder, the defendant’s palm print on the vehicle after the vehicle was abandoned, and the defendant’s fingerprint on the victim’s phone discarded in a field near the body.

This was a senseless and cold-blooded killing,” Hogan said. “The defendant needed a car and money, so he killed an innocent victim to get what he wanted. Sam Algarin was a good father to his children, a good son to his mother, a good worker to his employer, and a friend to everybody he met. The defendant killed the victim and dumped him on the side of the road like trash.

“Now the defendant will face justice.

Local and county authorities worked jointly to piece together what happened to Algarin.

“This  was a great team effort by the West Fallowfield Police Department and Chester County District Attorney’s Office,” West Fallowfield Police  Chief Charles “Smoke”  Wilmont added. “West Fallowfield is a quiet and peaceful  rural area, and we seldom see violence like this. However, the entire team came together to investigate and arrest the defendant. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sam Algarin’s family.”

Authorities say that that the events leading up to Algarin’s slaying started with a domestic dispute at Smith’s home in Oxford. After a fight with his mother prompting him to be removed the house after police arrived, Harris apparently set off on foot with his personal possessions.

Police said Harris did not have a car, but was in close proximity to the Starbucks in Oxford.

And it was at that Starbucks was where Algarin had parked his vehicle, a GMC Terrain, that same evening. He worked until 6 p.m. at a local automobile dealership, where he was a long-time employee.

The victim then parked his vehicle at the Starbucks. Then Algarin, his two sons and his mother then drove to a martial arts class in his mother’s car, with the class lasting until 9 p.m. They then picked up pizza from a local shop at 9:12 p.m. At approximately 9:30 – 9:40 p.m., Algarin was dropped off at the Starbucks to pick up his parked vehicle. His mother drove the children back to her house, where the victim was supposed to meet them.

But Algarin never returned.

Instead, police found the his body on the side of Limestone Road in West Fallowfield Township. He was dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest. His vehicle, wallet, and phone were all missing. Police identified him using fingerprint technology.

The discovery of Algarin’s body triggered an intensive, around-the­ clock, multi-day investigation by the Chester County Detectives, West Fallowfield Police Department, and multiple assisting agencies.

Police checked video in surrounding businesses over a wide area. After reviewing hours of recordings, they located video from a Turkey Hill store that allegedly showed Smith showing up at the store at 9:46 p.m. driving the Algarin’s GMC Terrain. This was minutes after the victim’s mother dropped off the victim at the Starbucks. The video showed that the defendant was unfamiliar with the vehicle, not realizing what side the gas tank was on and exhibiting confusion about how to open the gas tank.

Police recovered the Algarin’s vehicle in Westtown Township, Chester County, on Sept. 16. Police said the vehicle had been abandoned and intentionally wiped down, but the police located blood on the driver’s seat and driver’s seat belt harness. The police said they also found the defendant’s palm print on one of the door windows.

Police engaged in an extensive and meticulous search of the region around where the victim’s body was found. Eventually, they located the victim’s phone, discarded in a field along a road approximately two miles from where the Algarins body was located. After processing the his phone, police reportedly discovered the Harris’ fingerprint on the discarded phone.

Harris was taken into custody in West Chester, Tuesday. He was spotted on the street by a West Chester police officer, fled into a residence, but later surrendered to the West Chester SWAT team.

The defendant has been charged with murder, robbery, and related offenses.

He is not eligible for bail and was remanded to Chester County Prison.

This case was investigated by the West Fallowfield Police Department and Chester County Detectives. Assistance was provided by the Oxford Police Department, the West Chester Police Department, the West Chester SWAT team, and the United States Marshals Service. The assigned prosecutor is Brian Burack. Anybody with more information should contact Chester County Detective Bob Balchunis at (610) 344-6866.

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