The Mysterious Disappearance Of Rico Harris

When Rico Harris's girlfriend last heard from him, it was by voicemail. He'd been on the road, traveling from his family's home in Los Angeles back to Seattle to reunite with his girlfriend, Jennifer Song. It was an unexpected 1,100-mile trip for the 37-year-old former semi-pro basketball player, who had never mentioned to Song that he planned to drive to California in the first place, according to Sportscasting.

Unfortunately, the erratic behavior was not out of character for Harris at that point in his life. Sportscasting reports that Harris had struggled after leaving basketball, and had developed problems with drugs and alcohol. Though he'd been sober for several years, something prompted Harris to make a spur-of-the-moment trip to Los Angeles, a punishing drive in the best of circumstances made even more taxing by the fact that Harris reportedly hadn't slept in 36 hours.

Somewhere near Sacramento, says the blog Disappeared, Harris left his girlfriend that cryptic voicemail, telling her he planned to go "up into the mountains to rest." It was the last anyone heard from Rico Harris.

Rico Harris's promising beginnings

Rico Harris was the oldest of four siblings, born in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra in 1977 to parents who would later divorce. Harris's mother, says Disappeared, worked hard to care for the kids on a modest income, but explained that Rico was the "glue that held the family together."

He was a talented hooper in high school, says Sportscasting, and was considered to be a strong college prospect. Harris began his college career at Arizona State University but soon ran into trouble with the law. Not much is known of the incident that led to an arrest (but no charge) for unlawful imprisonment. Regardless, Harris soon returned to a school much closer to home; he led the LA City College team to its first state championship before transferring again to Cal State Northridge. By all accounts, the future looked bright. Soon, Harris was playing for the iconic Harlem Globetrotters. True, it was no NBA gig, but it was a living playing the sport Harris loved.

Things took a turn in the year 2000, though. At some point, says Disappeared, Harris was the victim of an assault that left him with head injuries so severe, he was forced to leave the Globetrotters after just one month. It was the beginning of a dangerous downward spiral for Rico Harris.

The road to Rico Harris's disappearance

According to Disappeared, the years between 2000 and 2007 were particularly rough for Harris, who'd returned home to live with his family and developed drug and alcohol problems. Sportscasting uncovered a series of Harris's arrests, ranging from trespassing to burglary, that illustrated how out-of-control his life had become.

The year 2007 was a brief turning point, though, as Harris got sober, began his relationship with Song, and held a job working security, reports Disappeared. Harris managed to stay sober for seven years — a remarkable feat. In 2014, Harris left California to move in with Song in Seattle.

In October of that year, Harris made the seemingly spontaneous decision to drive to LA to work out some family issues. Under normal conditions, the trip between the two West Coast cities would take around 18 hours to drive. Harris apparently drove it all the same day, reaching LA in time to talk with his mother and have dinner with one of his brothers, per Disappeared. Despite the arduous trip, Harris made the decision to return to Seattle around 1 a.m. About seven hours later, Harris stopped for gas and talked with his girlfriend, who learned he'd been awake for 36 hours. A few hours later, he left her the voicemail with the ominous update about heading for the mountains.

Police find a car but no trace of Harris

On October 14, reports Sportcasting, Harris's car was found in the parking lot of a park in Northern California's Yolo County. Despite extensive searching, Harris has never been found. The story doesn't end there, though. Stories of the Unsolved details some concerning twists in the investigation, including that police had traced a "ping" from Harris's cell phone that indicated the phone was more than 70 miles from where the car was found.

Further compounding the mystery, the car appeared to have been ransacked, as well as being out of gas and having a dead battery. Reportedly, investigators wondered why Harris had been on this particular stretch of road at all, since it was so far from the I-5 freeway, the direct route from LA to Seattle. Soon, a man called police to let them know he had found a backpack and cell phone that he believed belonged to Harris. The phone included video of Harris "ripping things up" in his car and throwing his CDs. While that explained the appearance of the car, it didn't shed any light on Harris' perplexing behavior.

While a few people have come forward to claim they saw Harris near the area where he went missing, nothing conclusively points to a reason as to why Harris was in the area or behaving erratically. Despite extensive searching, neither Harris nor his remains have ever been found. His girlfriend and family, says Stories of the Unsolved, continue to keep the case alive.