Under the leadership of then-Senator Joe Biden, Congress recognized the severity of violence against women and our need for a national strategy with the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. This landmark federal legislation’s comprehensive approach to violence against women combined tough new provisions to hold offenders accountable with programs to provide services for the victims of such violence. Read the Act at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa_factsheet.pdf
In the Act it is proudly points out that all states have passed laws making stalking a crime. In the state of Colorado (the state that Morgan was born in, the state that she grew up in, and the state that she was killed in) the following stalking law is in place:
Colorado’s legislative declaration states:
C.R.S. 18-3-601. [Formerly 18-9-111 (4) (a)] Legislative declaration. (2010)
(1) The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:
(a) Stalking is a serious problem in this state and nationwide;
(b) Although stalking often involves persons who have had an intimate relationship with one another, it can also involve persons who have little or no past relationship;
(c) A stalker will often maintain strong, unshakable, and irrational emotional feelings for his or her victim, and may likewise believe that the victim either returns these feelings of affection or will do so if the stalker is persistent enough. Further, the stalker often maintains this belief, despite a trivial or nonexistent basis for it and despite rejection, lack of reciprocation, efforts to restrict or avoid the stalker, and other facts that conflict with this belief.
(d) A stalker may also develop jealousy and animosity for persons who are in relationships with the victim, including family members, employers and co-workers, and friends, perceiving them as obstacles or as threats to the stalker’s own “relationship” with the victim;
(e) Because stalking involves highly inappropriate intensity, persistence, and possessiveness, it entails great unpredictability and creates great stress and fear for the victim;
(f) Stalking involves severe intrusions on the victim’s personal privacy and autonomy, with an immediate and long-lasting impact on quality of life as well as risks to security and safety of the victim and persons close to the victim, even in the absence of express threats of physical harm.
(2) The general assembly hereby recognizes the seriousness posed by stalking and adopts the provisions of this part 6 with the goal of encouraging and authorizing effective intervention before stalking can escalate into behavior that has even more serious consequences.
C.R.S. 18-3-602. Stalking – penalty – definitions – Vonnie’s Law. (2012)
(1) A person commits stalking if directly, or indirectly, through another person, the person knowingly:
(a) Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, or places under surveillance that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship; or
(b) Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly makes any form of communication with that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship, regardless of whether a conversation ensues; or
(c) Repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, places under surveillance, or makes any form of communication with another person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and does cause that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship to suffer serious emotional distress. For purposes of this paragraph (c), a victim need not show that he or she received professional treatment or counseling to show that he or she suffered serious emotional distress.
(2) For the purposes of this part 6:
(a) Conduct “in connection with” a credible threat means acts that further, advance, promote, or have a continuity of purpose, and may occur before, during, or after the credible threat.
(b) “Credible threat” means a threat, physical action, or repeated conduct that would cause a reasonable person to be in fear for the person’s safety or the safety of his or her immediate family or of someone with whom the person has or has had a continuing relationship. The threat need not be directly expressed if the totality of the conduct would cause a reasonable person such fear.
(c) “Immediate family” includes the person’s spouse and the person’s parent, grandparent, sibling, or child.
(d) “Repeated” or “repeatedly” means on more than one occasion.
(3) A person who commits stalking:
(a) Commits a class 5 felony for a first offense except as otherwise provided in subsection (5) of this section; or
(b) Commits a class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense, if the offense occurs within seven years after the date of a prior offense for which the person was convicted.
(4) Stalking is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified presumptive sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-401 (10).
(5) If, at the time of the offense, there was a temporary or permanent protection order, injunction, or condition of bond, probation, or parole or any other court order in effect against the person, prohibiting the behavior described in this section, the person commits a class 4 felony.
(6) Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter or diminish the inherent authority of the court to enforce its orders through civil or criminal contempt proceedings; however, before a criminal contempt proceeding is heard before the court, notice of the proceedings shall be provided to the district attorney for the judicial district of the court where the proceedings are to be heard and the district attorney for the judicial district in which the alleged act of criminal contempt occurred. The district attorney for either district shall be allowed to appear and argue for the imposition of contempt sanctions.
(7) A peace officer shall have a duty to respond as soon as reasonably possible to a report of stalking and to cooperate with the alleged victim in investigating the report.
(a) When a person is arrested for an alleged violation of this section, the fixing of bail for the crime of stalking shall be done in accordance with section 16-4-103 (2) (d), C.R.S., and a protection order shall issue in accordance with section 18-1-1001(5).
(b) This subsection (8) shall be known and may be cited as “Vonnie’s law.”
(9) When a violation under this section is committed in connection with a violation of a court order, including but not limited to any protection order or any order that sets forth the conditions of a bond, any sentences imposed pursuant to this section and pursuant to section 18-6-803.5, or any sentence imposed in a contempt proceeding for violation of the court order shall be served consecutively and not concurrently.
So where was the effective intervention before Morgan’s death? Only 3 days before we found her dead body the felony stalking detective (Detective Robert Glassmire) who was assigned to her case told me that he felt like the stalker was going to escalate – his words not mine. So where was the intervention? How did he know the stalker was going to escalate? And why did he tell us the morning we found her body that her death had nothing to do with the stalker? This is before her body was taken away for an autopsy. He said her death was a “mystery” at that time. A mystery? If it was a “mystery” then why not do an actual investigation, collect evidence, interview our next door neighbor that had information and waited for a call that never came, a Pitkin County Sheriff’s wife that had information, all Morgan’s close friends, her teachers, fellow students, employer, as well as us, her mom and dad. Why didn’t they ask the really important questions? More correctly, why didn’t they ask any questions at all. Why was was Morgan, an innocent women being stalked, completely ignored, while her stalker was given a free pass?
Also, where are all the Sheriff’s reports for ALL the incidents of stalking that Morgan, as well as Steve and I told them about? The detective met with Morgan once a week to get all updates and this was in addition to the daily calls we were making to dispatch. In Morgan’s case were they really responding, and investigating the reports? If that ever happened where are the reports? I’ll tell you there are not any. It felt like it was more like the felony stalking detective was trying to convince us that the car with the suspect in it that Morgan reported to him wasn’t really the suspect or his car, and the truck that Steve and I saw surveilling our house over 3 times, and we wrote down the license plate number and gave it to the detective, along with an exact description of the vehicle, he told us it had not really been there, plus more and more incidents that the Sheriff’s office refused to investigate and went as far as to make up excuses for. Is this what they call investigating a report or cooperating with the witness?
To treat a stalking victim/murder victim in this manner is not only disgusting, but needs to end…2 years and 6 months later this is now only the start. Morgan will get justice and Steve and I will never give up!