Let’s say for a moment (and I pray this will never be true in your case) that your daughter has a stalker – you want to keep your daughter safe so you call law enforcement, but at the same time you don’t just sit back and hope they protect her (you realize they can’t be everywhere all the time), you also do everything you can think of to keep her safe, while at the same time trusting in law enforcement to do their job. You have no experience when it comes to stalking situations, you have only heard about celebrity stalkers, and you have no idea what to do or not to do.
Everyone you confide in has different suggestions – you decide to do as many as possible. Motion alarms, motions lights, cameras, pepper spray, mace with a staining solution that glows in the dark, water and rake the ground in order to get better footprints, observe what lights are on in neighboring houses or what cars are in driveways in the middle of the night when the stalker was just at your house, do your own stake-out, keep a timeline, borrow a watch dog, (we did that for a week, we love our dog, but just as a few of our readers have said that have the same breed as our dog, our dog is not a watch dog, never barked when the code on the front door was pushed, never barked when tapping happened on the windows), she only barks when she hears the doorbell ring (Morgan’s stalker did not ring the doorbell), or when she hears a loud knocking on the front door (Morgan’s stalker did not do that either), or if she sees someone through a window that she does not trust (that happened once when the stalker came up our driveway at night and she saw him through the front door window, read about that one here, October 18, 2011), but she did bark 3 times because of the stalker that I remember during that 4 month period, once which I mentioned above, once when I was in my office in the very front of the house, I had not gone to bed yet – I was waiting up to meet Morgan in the driveway, and Morgan called to say she would not be home until morning because she was sleeping at a friend’s house – she was exhausted and wanted to get a full nights sleep. As soon as I hung up the phone something hard, and loud hit my window – I was startled and jumped, as did our dog, who was lying on the floor next to where I was standing, and she started to bark. That was my first time to feel the absolute skin crawling fright that Morgan had been experiencing almost every day – and that was the first, and one of the 3 times our dog barked because of the stalker. Suggestions like a bear trap, fish hooks on invisible fishing line hanging from the trees, things like that I couldn’t do – I love animals just like Morgan did, and injuring or killing an animal while trying to catch or stop a stalker did not sound like the right thing to do at the time.
Then your daughter’s stalking case becomes a FELONY STALKING case, and a detective is assigned to the case. You breathe a sigh of relief (because you trust law enforcement, you, like me, have seen some amazing heroes over the years), but you still keep trying to come up with ways to catch the stalker, as well as ways to protect your daughter, because you are a parent, and that is what parents are supposed to do…protect your child. With all the things we had tried we were still trying to add more things – wouldn’t you? I told Morgan I would purchase a taser gun for her, she said she wouldn’t be able to use it. Why? She said, “Mom picture this, I am walking from the car to the house, holding car keys in one hand, along with pepper spray and my puppies leash in the other hand, how am I supposed to hold a taser and use it?” So much for that idea…so I kept meeting her every time she drove home, in the driveway with pepper spray in my hand as well. She would always send me a text to tell me she was on her way home, and I would wait for her and meet her outside – no matter what the weather was like, I’m sure you would do the same to protect your daughter. Were her text messages being monitored? I asked the detective, but he said he didn’t know of any software that could do that. Relatives said to carry a gun – we had one – and if we had to use it in the house we would have, but we lived in a neighborhood with houses fairly close together so if we saw the stalker running outside of our house and shot at him and missed the bullet could have gone right into a neighbor’s house and wounded, or even worse, killed an innocent person – that to me was not a valid option either.
Then after four months of being terrorized, the unthinkable happens…you find your daughter’s lifeless body. You call 911 – you do CPR until the EMT’s rush into your home to take over, with so much hope and determination in their eyes, definitely heroes trying to save our 20-year-old with so much life still ahead of her, only to bow their heads in defeat. Your mind swirls thinking you must be having a nightmare. This can’t be happening! Please take me not her…then your mind starts up with all the questions – what happened, how did this happen, how could this happen to her?
This is now the worst pain you have ever felt in your entire life and it doesn’t end there. That same morning you are told there are no signs of forced entry, no signs of a sexual assault, no signs of a struggle, no signs of suicide, and at this time law enforcement tells you her death is a mystery. Your mind screams – mystery? She is a healthy 20-year-old that has a felony stalker that has been terrorizing her for 4 months, and you were just told by the lead detective (only 2 days earlier) that in his opinion the stalker would not stop, if anything he would escalate – you start to ask question after question, hoping for some answers that make sense, but don’t get any, and all you can do now is still trust that law enforcement is really investigating, and will give you some answers. Unfortunately you are wrong… it has now been one year, and nine months and you still have not received the information that you have requested, and deserve to have.
What would you think? Would you think this is a cover-up? Would you think this is just CYA because of mistakes law enforcement made, mistakes they can’t afford to admit now that your daughter is dead? Would you think that maybe your law enforcement department was just lazy? Would you think this is just because you live in a small town and small towns don’t have enough resources like big cities, so this is what happens – they just close the investigation?
For me none of the above reasons work, because EVERY human life is precious and deserves respect, dignity and honesty. Families deserve answers. Morgan’s felony stalking case was closed after she was murdered – 2 days before her murder I was told by the lead detective he was close to making an arrest then after she was gone no more follow-up, case closed. This is after bringing the sheriff’s information, evidence to follow-up on and so much more, but only to see that they would not follow-up on anything or spend anymore time on her investigation. What would you do when the suspects family tells you he was either working or not in state when Morgan’s stalking incidents occurred? Number one how would they know when those incidents actually occurred considering the sheriff’s reports did not show all the reports? And even more important than that is the fact that the sheriff’s did receive the work schedule for the suspect after Morgan’s murder and if they had actually looked at it and compared it to my timeline, like they were planning on doing before her murder, they would have seen what I saw…yes he was in the state (except when there was an intentional alibi being made or when there were no stalking incidents on my timeline). I was shocked when I started looking over his hours – of course I was infuriated, wouldn’t you be? And this is why the article mentioned below is so important…law enforcement doesn’t have to be super heroes they just need to be honest and do their job, most do, but not all and that is where change needs to be made. Someone shouldn’t get away with murder, because it gets swept under the rug, or because a contracted forensic pathologist is allowed to say its natural causes for 8 months while being told that it can’t be by so many experts, and then he changes it to suicide when that is not true either and there is conclusive proof to the contrary. When that is allowed to happen then other families will lose loved ones over and over, (because someone got away with murder), and the next time it can be anyone’s daughter.
I know that law enforcement can’t be everywhere at all times, I know law enforcement officers are just human like the rest of us and make mistakes too, but I also know that in my job (probably in yours too) I have to be honest, and accountable for the mistakes I make, correct them and do my best to make sure it does not happen again. The only person responsible for Morgan’s murder is Morgan’s murderer, along with anyone that tried to cover up the crime – there are others who might be tried as an “accomplice” or an “accessory”, and remember there is no statute of limitations on murder.
This article (see link below) from the Journal of Criminal Justice explains very succinctly why there needs to be transparency, and honesty when law enforcement, and the judicial system deals with the family of victims of crime.
Journal of Criminal Justice 38 (2010) 880–888 click here http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2012a/commsumm.nsf/b4a3962433b52fa787256e5f00670a71/4edad3b79d32555b872579ac007e1eba/$FILE/SenJud0222AttachG.pdf to read the full publication. I am so happy there are so many scholarly people in this world that can explain things that I think and have come to know, but can not properly articulate to others.