In reality this is even more of a seldom traveled path. On one fork of the trail is that which you know, solid concrete facts and feelings, the comfort that comes from the familiar and knowing where it is going, and what will be at the end. The other fork is unknown, ever evolving, constantly changing, shocking realizations and the wish for it to come to an end, which, as I am reminded every day, will happen not on my timetable, but rather on its own. That fork is where I find my life going now – between my job, which I love, and the time I carve out for my family, which I love even more – is this mythical path meant to gain closure for an event in life that should never have even happened.
Such is Morgan’s stalking. We know she had a stalker, more than one – no doubt. He was on our porch, in our driveway, left footprints in the planters surrounding the house, he was up on the roof, leaning out and bending steel gutters until one side was torn in two. He left well traveled trails, worn into the berm 75 feet behind our house, a constant reminder of his presence, even when he was right there, ready to terrorize, and also showing just how often he was actually there. Seldom seen, but all too often there – waiting for Morgan, waiting for his next chance.
He was not afraid at all, security cameras caught him leaning against Steve’s truck to watch the deputies drive away after yet another fruitless attempt to catch him. Another deputy, weeks earlier, had demonstrated for me very graphically, that standing in the deep scuff marks he left in the ground outside Morgan’s window, how his face would have been right up against the glass. His nose just a whisper away as he stared at a defenseless nineteen year old girl at that time. My back still quivers at the thought.
That was real – far too real.
Along the path less traveled are the actions of the Sheriff. What do they mean? If all that was happening to Morgan, and our family, on an almost daily basis and it would be called only misdemeanor trespassing for the first 58 days, doesn’t that mean they don’t take it seriously? Didn’t their actions scream that they were just waiting for him to give up, and move on – with no meaningful intervention from the Sheriff’s department? As perhaps this very same tormentor had done to so many other neighbors over the past four years. Because it certainly seemed like this was the same person that had been spotted peering and tapping on a window of one neighbor, then also spotted in the fenced yard of another, seen staring into a woman’s master bedroom as she changed to go to sleep, and on and on. Only this time he did not stop, not after a few days, and not after winter came. One of our Sheriff’s Deputies in the beginning of Morgan’s stalking suggested that he was a “seasonal stalker” and last time he stopped as soon as it became cold or the snow started to fall. It was as if he knew him personally, a seasonal criminal who will stop soon as it gets cold. Where does that coexist with meaningful intervention?
A woman tormented by a man of the same description only two weeks before Morgan’s stalking began insisted that the Sheriffs follow-up on her incident, but they did not. Doesn’t this show they do not care. Never mind it is not a high priority – doesn’t it appear to be a no priority at all?
It also was not reported by the Sheriffs. A journalist researching Morgan’s stalking and seeking records was first told by the Sheriff’s department that he needed the exact day and address or he could not get any records. When I got permission to pass that information along and did, he was then told there was no record, ever. No record of an incident that was reported (Sheriff’s Deputies were at her house) with peeping tom, harassment, and trespassing written all over it. What does that say about the Sheriff’s department? About their stand on violence against women? Because all of these victims before Morgan were women too.
Invasion of privacy for sexual gratification, harassment, eavesdropping, and felony stalking which comes after it’s happened more that once, and it causes you to suffer serious emotional distress. Serious crimes if you are the victim, the recipient of all this very horrific, uninvited, completely unwanted terror. Morgan had all of these crimes committed against her during her stalking. I’m feeling they were also committed against our family as well, and as I read and re-read through the official reports, I have yet to find any of it documented. Not once! I was told to document everything, and you can bet that I did. But then why do the police reports document nothing? Do they not consider it a crime?
If the paperwork AKA the reports are what convicts the criminal in the end, then what does it mean when there are no reports? A very helpful FBI Special Agent told me that he could not get involved in Morgan’s investigation, but I had to realize that there was no law against incompetence. Does that mean he thought the Sheriff’s department was incompetent? What about when the Honorable DA said that the Sheriff’s Department had so thoroughly botched the investigation that she did not know if there could ever be a prosecution? What exactly were they doing when the first two independent assessments of their actions as law enforcement professionals are so completely dismal?
When your attempt at intervention is not producing results, and the crime is continuing, escalating, shouldn’t someone step up and say, “this is not working, we have to do better.” If you care about stopping crime, and protecting victims do you blindly do the same thing day in and day out with no tangible results, and somehow call it a job well done?
Steve and I constantly told each other, “this is not working, we have to do better!”
We bought wildlife cameras, motion detectors, installed more and more motion lights, surveillance video cameras, Steve sat out on the berm behind our house, dressed all in black, for hours at a time. And none of it was enough for more than a glimpse of him. The reality, when he lives three houses up the street, is that he can watch and wait and assess, then attack when the “coast is clear.” He could sit up on our roof in a spot perfectly made to conceal a criminal, such as we had. Or he could stand and see Sheriffs trucks approaching from far away. Any thought the Sheriffs ever had concerning any element of surprise working for them was nothing more than a fleeting dream.
Then Morgan, the victim in every sense of the word, of all the continuing crimes, that did nothing but escalate – is murdered, horrifically murdered in her own bedroom, the murder scene complete with so many obvious signs of an intruder being present. More promises of the how they had collected everything they needed. There was talk of new detectives, just for her death – once again, all the promises of all the things that would never happen. Was it because she was a woman? I have to wonder aloud. And we kept trusting the Sheriffs – we still believed they were telling us the truth.
While we are constantly reminded by those who have lent their help – Steve and I are not trained investigators, nor are we accomplished hunters, not a legal team, not doctors and not forensic pathologists. We do understand as it is explained to us, and believe me – understanding what has been, and is being explained to us is not pleasant.
Unfortunately, all the times we returned to Garfield County with new knowledge to share from a fact-finding trip, we would hear that everything explained to us meant nothing here in Garfield County. Their mind was made up, no more Morgan, no more stalking. How can a real Sheriff’s Department ever say that? Then there was the Coroner, claiming her death is in no way connected to her stalking, it’s natural causes, from a blood disease she never had, and the condition of her lungs indicated strangulation before anything benign.
We wanted natural causes changed because we were told over and over by the best experts we are able to seek out that this is anything but natural causes. Who wouldn’t? Those pursuits resulted in threats that her death would be revisited, perhaps changed. What forensic pathologist does that? In this country is that even legal? But the threats registered with us. We documented them with the Sheriffs and with the Coroner, who was responsible for contracting this forensic pathologist.
I talked extensively with another forensic pathologist that was gracious enough to take time from his busy schedule to intervene and explain the mistakes to our Coroner, he also assured me the manner of death could never be changed to a suicide for many more reasons that I won’t go into right now. Does this mean he thought the original forensic pathologist would never stoop so low? Or be absolutely so cavalier with the facts? Talking about the original forensic pathologist that was a doctor, not an M.D., but some sort of doctor. It was crippling to me when Morgan was changed to a suicide, such an unbelievable insult for a young woman like Morgan. The way the system works in Colorado means our legal avenues to have this horrific wrong righted will take many, many years. Does this sound like justice to you? When we were threatened, reported the threats, and a man contracted by the County Coroner then followed through on his threats, with never any concern for the truth – shocking! Absolutely shocking! Has he been placed in a position that he is completely above the law? The path Steve and I will travel to right just the wrongs we are aware of now is the less traveled choice. Morgan was such a bright light in our lives and such a loving daughter I don’t believe any parent put in our position would want to do any less than we shall. That is our job, to tell the story, and how we believe it could have ended very differently.
I don’t want anyone in this world to ever have to sit where I sit and to ever have to look back on what I am seeing, and being forced to relive everyday. It is simply impossible to react correctly as such crimes are coming at you, rapid fire, all happening in real-time, completely disrupting your life in an unyielding march to an end that hasn’t quite happened yet, so you have only your hopes, but no real idea what the ending will be, then as swiftly as it began it is over, and it ends up to be so horrifying that it is hard to believe, to process, to pick up the pieces and move again. That was our reality – now how do we change it? That is our future path – not just Steve, and I, and all of my loving family, but all of us who inhabit this world…