Starting out with a stranger stalker, also called an unknown stalker, this is a stalker with no relationship history, it is one of the most dangerous – the kind of Stalker Morgan had. It was a chance meeting at some very unfortunate moment in Morgan’s life. He could have just seen her from a distance once, but that is not what we believe happened.
Just like the pool of suspects that Morgan, Steve and I started looking at during the stalking, I started with a list of possibilities of where he met her, suspected chance meetings where Keenan could have seen Morgan, tried to, or imagined he tried to talk to her, as that is all it takes to start a deadly spiral to the end such as this story is.
My possibilities go like this:
- Morgan shopped at the City Market in El Jebel, Keenan worked at the City Market in El Jebel too. His official title does not include cash register duty (I have seen with my own eyes), but he did do that enough to have met Morgan more than once at his register standing in his check-out line. Morgan would have paid with a credit card, he could have asked to see her license, this could have happened many times before he moved in to the neighborhood in June or July of 2011, even Keenan is not quite sure when he did move in. Just that we know it was right before the daily stalking began.
- Another possibility is the ranch behind the house. By the time Keenan moved into the neighborhood his girlfriend was Brooke. Brooke’s mother Christine worked at the ranch, Keenan’s sister volunteered to help with the therapy horses. Elliott was there with his daughters, and I did try to ask him if he ever saw Keenan there, but ever since he moved out, right after Morgan’s murder, it’s been hard to get hold of him. Morgan was at the ranch infrequently, and passed by a few times a day at least, so he certainly could have seen her there.
- One documented meeting was at Morgan’s friend’s house. After a stay at a drug rehab facility Brooke had been living with that family (Morgan’s friend’s family) instead of at her home with her parents. While Morgan was there one afternoon Brooke showed up with Keenan, and Morgan was so “absolutely creeped out by this guy who was with Brooke,” that she left without speaking a word. Morgan told me, Steve, Deputies, and Detectives about this meeting many times. What was not known until later, after Morgan was already dead, was that this was one of the times when Brooke, behind Morgan’s back, but talking about Morgan, said “that bitch is going to get it someday.” This particular threat by Brooke was just days before the car Morgan and I shared was vandalized, with “Bitch” scraped down to the metal on the driver’s door while parked at the college where Morgan was taking a night class (this was just blocks from the house Brooke was living in). Repairs were well into the thousands, and Keenan would later say to a detective that this was “Brooke’s style.” But was this ever looked in to? NO.
There may well have been other incidental meetings, but they were never recalled and hence never explored while Morgan was still alive. A common component from a psychological point of view is the stalker manifesting anger, and hostility towards the victim, this often stems from perceived rejection of the stalker by the victim, it could also be actual rejection, but I do not believe this to be the case as Keenan never made an approach toward Morgan that she could remember. She did not remember him ever actually speaking to her except for the things he had to say at the grocery store. An important part of rejection, even perceived rejection would be a conversation, real or imagined.
If the victim of a stranger stalker can identify the meetings with strangers that could be a stalker, it is the beginning of a list of suspects. The unique characteristics of the stalking is another source of suspects. In Morgan’s stalking the arrival of her stalker within minutes of her arrival home was a very big component. Every neighbor was made a suspect at the beginning so as not to miss anyone, and many fell off very quickly. The unexpected wildlife camera images whittled the suspect list down to four, which was real progress.
The success of the wildlife cam was due to two things. It was brand new, hung just before darkness one afternoon, so the element of surprise. And the stalker was distracted. Of course he is trying to look as nonchalant as he can in the picture, but there was some amount of focus on the departing Sheriff’s Deputies. The trigger time for that camera was rated at five seconds, only in practice as much as eight seconds could elapse before an image was taken. Going by the time imprinted on the images the actual interval was between a little more than one minute, up to a little less than three. When taking a picture the camera lit up with a red glow first and then the picture was taken.
There were three deputies there crisscrossing the yard. Was this stalker on the roof, just watching them, then dropping down as they went for their trucks? Better than all three missing as he hid in plain sight. Recreating the incident as if he were on the roof, it takes 12 seconds to come down off the roof and walk casually to the front of Steve’s truck. 5 – 8 seconds for the camera to click his picture. Within thirty to forty seconds after they walked down the drive, he was at the hood of Steve’s truck. The attempts to knock the camera down came right after that. He knows he has been recorded on camera. In the following days, his hair goes from blonde to black and during interviews he admits that he may have come in the driveway because he saw something of interest. More attention has to be paid to the details, the #1 suspect never gets a free pass to be in the driveway (and this was not at the end of our driveway it was close to the front door where our cars were parked) watching the Sheriffs Deputies leave. And keep track of his hair color. See the wildlife cam images here
I believe after the incident he went back up on the roof. From there he can see the surrounding streets and highways for miles in all directions. He can see the Sheriffs drive away and be certain not one deputy, “hung around,” as they sometimes did from a block or two away to see if a lone figure wanders to another house in the subdivision.
He was one step ahead of the Deputies at all times. Why did they not bring in the dogs? That night they had a picture of him, knew exactly where he was standing so the dogs could get his scent, then put their nose to the ground and track back to a house where he went, or a tree he had used to scale back up on the roof. Either way he was one step closer to being caught if they had employed the dogs. Instead they drove away, angered at how he was, “thumbing his nose at them.” Mark Wynn’s (an expert on matters of stalkers, and stalking) this is an assessment that indicates a dangerous stalker, one to be taken very seriously. The Deputies got angry the stalker was cavalier to their presence and left, Morgan was killed three months later. Somewhere priorities, and pride got a little too jumbled in our daughter’s case. Pay careful attention to the attitude of you protectors and always ask yourself – are they doing all they can? Do they really care? Or am I getting lip service, and not much more?
But in the wee hours of the morning that day we had a blurred image, we knew his height, could guess at weight, if male or female, his build, and more. A list of suspects shrank to four. All because something unexpected had happened! How many times had he done that exact thing before? Only this one night there was a camera.
Do unexpected things, change-up what you are doing constantly, and never talk about it in your home. While he was standing at Morgan’s windows, or a few feet back, to watch her, it is fantasy to think he did not hear all of the conversations in the house – which usually included our future plans to catch him.
The unknown and unexpected, are your tools to use as you wish. Running out the door with a bat is not the weapon you think it is – I know we tried. I would suggest this only if you have trip lines at strategic locations. They did not work for us, but they may for you. Every stalker is different, possessing different skills, and physical abilities.
Another tool is a random event along with your deterrence already in place. When we had security video covering the drive he was crouched behind the car Morgan and I shared. One might ask why, Steve did immediately. Not one Deputy, and not one Detective said, “I wonder what he was doing back there?” Pay attention to lapses such as that. Knowing the capabilities of your defenders is not a slight it’s in your best interest.
So while he was crouched behind the car, doing whatever he was doing back there, a neighbor suddenly starts driving up the street. If he sits behind the car he will be exposed, so he stands and runs for the trees of the front yard. That part works, the neighbor had no idea all this happened as he came up the street. But the stalker was again on a clip of video, because something unexpected happened. The cameras he knew were there, that a car would come up the street right at the same time he did not.
Do not allow ridiculous answers to slide by, ever. Morgan’s stalker told the detectives he might have been in our driveway. I believe Brooke did too. Now what, do they just get a free pass? The #1 suspect should never be allowed in the driveway for any reason. Stalkers go up your driveway to stalk the victims in the house, no other reason.
And really? Is it possible that you were ever in your neighbor down the streets driveway, crouched behind his car, dressed in clothes to conceal yourself, in pitch blackness, and it’s possible you don’t remember? The girlfriend too? That they were let off with answers like that, “I might have.” Is just poor investigation.
Morgan’s stalker, in a conversation on facebook, says:
November 6, 2011, 9:26am, Keenan James Vanginkel says:
“Idk why you are giving me so much trouble cuz I have done nothing wrong. For everything u are accusing me of I will have a story for and multiple people to prove that I wasn’t there. But if u don’t stop right now I will press charges against you.”
Notice – “everything u are accusing me of I WILL have a story for and multiple people to prove that I wasn’t there.”
So he knows there is a stalking, no questions about that. And he WILL have an alibi for everything, his own story and multiple others. Isn’t that all too convenient for him? At least he admits there is a stalking, James Harris claimed he didn’t even know, AFTER the Deputies talked to him about the stalking, the Detectives questioned his daughter about the stalking. He talked to the Detectives about the stalking, about how he heard Morgan’s parents were overreacting. My daughter is dead – and I think he knows more than he is saying, don’t you? I obviously did not react enough!
Set up your defenses so there are always two different things to contend with for the stalker. One thing at a time is easy, but look at Morgan’s stalker, video surveillance, easy to hide behind car, but a neighbor coming home from work, and he’s caught on film again.
There was a surprise snowstorm, and footprints all the way from Brooke’s house and to the corner where they climbed the tree were revealed. Steve photographed it all (while walking and observing the prints with the Deputy) and drew a map for the Deputy. That our map given to the Deputy was never entered it into evidence is an incentive for you to check the evidence often. Perhaps weekly with your Detective, so you know it’s all in there instead of, gee wonder what happened to that one?
Two tools – the unknown and the unexpected. Keeping your stalker off guard can be counted on to anger him, but then you will also get shots at him. The night Morgan’s stalker was caught on the wildlife camera Steve took it down to check the chip, in yet another unexpected act. Actually I asked Steve after the Deputies left, even though he was tired, and it was so late, just to see how it works – I was sure it would have picked up the Deputies leaving the house. He had work the next day, he was exhausted, but he did it.
Morgan’s stalker came by the house seven more times that night to set off our alarms on the rear of the house after the Deputies left to otherwise make his presence known as if to say ha ha didn’t catch me. A simple display of anger and/or “I can’t be caught.” For all the times the Sheriffs promised the dogs, if they were ever going to do it that would have been the night. But they did not. You have to count on yourself, and wouldn’t it be even better if we all counted on each other – to help out?