Manner of Death

Morgan your dragonfly candle still burns bright thanks to your Aunt Carol

Morgan your dragonfly candle still burns bright thanks to your Aunt Carol

It was once such a cold and distant term, Manner of Death.  When it became a part of my daughters stalking, life for Steve and I changed forever.  Our grief counselor did not share one very saddening statistic with us until over a year after Morgan’s death.  It is that over 80% of couples who go through this do not make it, as couples.  The death of a child proves to be too much.

I can’t even begin to explain what it means and feels like that Morgan’s death is not a part of her Felony Stalking Case, was in fact never considered to be, not for one second.  As I come to the end of corrections to all of her Sheriff’s reports – that one fact just screams at me as if it is the single most unbelievable fact a person could ever have to face in their lifetime.

How is this even possible?  And if the Sheriff has his way, based on a, “thoroughly botched investigation,” Morgan’s death has not, and will not be investigated for one second.  How is that even possible?  I was right there when the words, “the Sheriff’s Department so thoroughly botched this investigation,” were spoken – and I obviously will never, ever forget them.  They have rung in my ears every time I have picked up my, “Sheriff’s Reports,” file and tried to complete them.

I’ve been told that It becomes less harsh the more you say it, it hasn’t worked for me yet, but now, on with Manner of Death.  It’s part of an autopsy, which explains how the death arose.  The underlying, “cause of death,” is far more complex and not for this post.  Manner of death is expressed as a select group of are terms you’ve probably heard, such as, accidental, homicide, natural, suicide and undetermined.

Yes, it’s absolutely OK to be uncertain and classify the death as undetermined, rather noble I think.  It’s actually common, and desirable in some areas of the country, especially when more investigation, say, into evidence collected at the death scene is needed to answer some important questions.  Of course no usable evidence was collected at Morgan’s death scene – and it was not because there wasn’t any.

Morgan’s manner of death was found to be Natural Causes – from Marked Pulmonary Edema and AIP or Acute Intermittent Porphyria.  Along the journey we traveled people opened up books, and read passages to us to help explain their understanding of manner of death.  Such as, “Natural Causes is the natural progression of a disease,” or even more precisely, “due solely or nearly totally to disease and/or the aging process.”  Doctors, and other experts did not agree with Natural causes in Morgan’s case, quite the opposite.  So we voiced their concerns.  They voiced their concerns.

A 20-year-old woman, in excellent health, with no diagnosed disease, is dead, under suspicious circumstances, a felony stalking case that the lead detective voiced that he thought was “going to escalate” only two days before her murder.  Steve and I did not know what to think, so we asked.  Once the definition had been read to us, “due solely or nearly totally to disease and/or the aging process.” We knew something was wrong.  Morgan was so far from having a diagnosed disease to claim she did is probably malpractice.

During her lifetime I am very confident we sought out answers for any disease that was even a remote possibility.  There is a totality of medical testing in Morgan’s past to rule out the slightest possibility.  That testing is not even known here, because nobody ever asked. Why?

She would have been seen by a specialist if need be for any disease she might have been thought to have.  The bottom line is she did not have any diagnosed disease.  Now why is this so important to the pathologist here that she does?  He acted as if his life depended on Morgan having a disease.  On one hand I had Dr. Kurtzman (the contracted Forensic Pathologist for Garfield County), explaining to me that he was seeking the truth.  And every other doctor looked at me and asked, “what is the problem here – why is he doing this?”

I had no answers.  Enough trauma already, four months of stalking, a sudden death under suspicious circumstances, and then Morgan suddenly died from a disease she never had?  Why is this man who is not even a medical doctor so intent on claiming Morgan had a disease?  Is this to cover up for a rape kit never administered?  Is this to cover up for a series of histological samples that should have been collected from Morgan, to help answer questions that are front and center now?  I am at a loss for answers as to why requirements were so ignored.

I will never grow tired of simply explaining that if during Morgan’s life, if she needed a medical test done, she had it.  If she needed to see a specialist, she did.  What tests and which specialists really are Morgan’s private records.  I am confident that the compendium of medical records for Morgan all lain out to answer a specific question will leave no doubt as to what she did or did not suffer from.  Even what medications she was, and was not taking.

So once it became oh so painfully obvious to us that Morgan did not die from “Natural Causes,” we moved on to the – what did she die from?  What was her manner of death, really?  When another test was run which, by all those I have spoken with, points directly and unmistakably to foul play, but then it was called a suicide, sure it was gut wrenching, but once our world stopped spinning enough, we did the same thing we did as when her manner of death was called Natural Causes, we searched out a second opinion, then a third, then another.  It’s done all the time.  Once again only far more carefully, and once again the collective voice said, absolutely not suicide.

So many have written and pointed out that once Morgan was “reclassified” as a suicide then manslaughter at the very least was a valid charge.  And they are right.  It has been suggested to me more than once that I should just go with the suicide manner of death and demand an investigation into manslaughter due to the stalking.  And of course if the stalking led to her suicide then those who were active participants to help Keenan stalk Morgan will be in the same place they would be if she was found to be a homicide.

In short, if all I cared about was some sort of prosecution then this is a route that I might be all too willing to jump at.  But it is not the truth – as I have extensively sought out the answers, and as I understand it to be.  Morgan did not commit suicide, her life was taken as the result of a very specific, and verifiable set of circumstances.  Morgan was taken from us under very heinous circumstances.  Either Morgan’s case stands on it merits or it fails, and how much is due to complete bungling and malpractice?

But hope – well we have tons of that and right about now I can tell you this has been a horribly painful journey, but one we had to take and I can’t explain why right now, but every essence of my being is telling me to keep on hoping because good news is right around the corner.  Please don’t ever ignore your intuition (little voices as I used to joke) they are a really important part of everyone’s lives – some listen and some don’t.  Please listen to your gut and I think you will understand what I am talking about when I say good news is right around the corner. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Manner of Death

  1. It must be breathtakingly frustrating and maddening to have to deal with incompetent law enforcement that refuses to do their job? I imagine you must just want to pull your hair one strand at at time and bash your head into a wall. I am so sorry you are dealing with this. Morgan deserves justice and the truth to be told and those responsible in prison for the rest of their life.

    • What you say is so very true – one minute I want to just scream, and the next minute I just cry for Morgan. But I know we need to be strong, and keep pushing forward just like you did…you are an inspiration to me.

      We will get justice for Morgan it is just a harder road in this case then it needed to be, but maybe, just maybe in the long run the fact that this case was so horribly messed up, and covered up will make changes going forward for others. That is my hope.

      • I don’t understand why a rape kit was not done? DNA could match the SOB who did this. It angers me to think the investigaters could not do there job. There had to be DNA, finger prints something they had to of missed in a big way. I know this is a nightmare for you. What about her clothes? If there not sure of the cause of death then i would think they need to re open the case and do what ever means possible to find out. Stay strong Gods with you.

        • I have asked the Forensic Pathologist (back when I was still speaking to him) if he had clipped her nails to look for DNA and he said no he never touched her nails. One of the first responders put a black light over her body and noted in his report that a “spray” showed up on her chest but no one checked for DNA. No rape kit was done and the death scene was treated as separate from her felony stalking case even though 2 days before the lead detective told me he thought it was going to escalate. That tells me that they didn’t expect Morgan to turn up dead and so they put a lid on it and started the CYA as soon as they got to the death scene. The Forensic Pathologist kept her manner of death at “natural causes” for 8 months even though all her doctors and specialists and another respected Forensic Pathologist told him he was wrong and then he changed it to suicide which is was not. This investigation needs to be opened and it will be opened – I can feel God, Morgan and all the angels on our side and they are helping as well. This case will be opened I guarantee it – Steve and I are not about to give up and neither are all our family members and supporters all over the world. Thank you so much Angela. We need to get justice for Morgan and make these changes so they don’t keep happening over and over again. Stalking needs to be taken seriously and criminals need to be taking off of our streets. We need to protect our children.

  2. Dear toni and Steve, just hold on to each other. I see so much love and respect between you, you have not and will not ever shut the other out. This is all something you are meant to do together. How sadly awfully true. You created this great beauty from your love. Finish the job left to you both. Together. Also, it never gets easier to say certain things. Each time easier doesn’t always apply….. it was probably more than ten years before I Truong Larry and dead into the same sentence and … that’s ok. It’s ok how you make it calmly peacefully even sometimes irrationally but always with love and together. There is nothing rational in the plate you have been dished, you have been forced to bring all rationality to the situation. I have great faith in you both because of many things but mostly the great love and beauty you share. Never consider turning from each the other !!! LOVE!

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