Our most precious gifts are our children. Protecting them comes first.
The day after Morgan’s memorial I will always remember as the first real day of really understanding what had happened, both for Steve and I. Not as if I had fully grasped the situation, no far, far from that. But there was a realization forming. That and a dream of how we could take this incredible negative and turn it into a positive, easy to think, but not so easy to do in real life, but that is where this next part of the journey began. As our family and friends from out of state slowly filtered out, the house grew a little quieter with every departure. My day runner was blank for a number of days.
We were in contact with the Detectives, mindful they would be needing more things, many more things – extended interviews, discussions, filling in all the blanks that only a few people would really know. But they knew we had many guests, and assured us everything could wait.
The term taking a week off was bantered about by many. More weeks actually, only then the question became how many. We had lost our daughter and the pain was indescribable, the need to find answers for Morgan was also indescribable. Stopping to pause was not an option, mostly because of how difficult it was, slowing down brought thinking, thinking brought reality, and reality was just a bit too much to handle.
Days ran together for Steve and I in December, not quite a hopeless jumble of time, but certainly difficult to successfully pull one day from another. During this time we went into Morgan’s room and looked, questioned, and made plans to put it all in order. Both for the present and for the future. Needs we knew existed were not totally certain of. Present seemed to be a careful separation and preservation of what was there, and future was at least a need that could be put off for now.
As we began to actually touch and move what was there in Morgan’s room it immediately became obvious that not much had been moved or taken by the investigators. In fact, quite amazingly, perhaps nothing at all beyond the electronics devices already returned and a diary. On TV shows there were bags labeled evidence, items of interest, Items sent for DNA testing. The death of our daughter, under suspicious circumstances such as this, you would certainly think involved all that, perhaps even more.
As we carefully picked out and separated Morgan’s possessions a few “clues” leapt out at us immediately. Some I will not share on her blog for the moment, only the person(s) in her room that night would be aware of these facts. I started a list for the detectives, because certainly they would be very keen to know anything that we were able to find out.
Morgan was a simple girl, never coveting anything more than simple costume jewelry, even preferring things she had made herself. But nonetheless she did have jewelry from special occasions, her birth, her christening, First Holy Communion, then the birthdays such as first teen -13th, then 16th, and young adult -18th. The special moments of her life when those who loved her so would find an appropriate gold necklace or other piece to commemorate the occasion. there were also the gifts of my jewelry that meant far more for me to see Morgan wear than to wear myself. Some special mementos from my grandmother, even gifts from her sister, and brother, and her brother’s girlfriend’s who over the years had been sharing something of meaning to them with Morgan. A few jewelry boxes full by age 20.
The realization that things were missing began more as denial than alarm. Something was wrong, and I finally began by asking Steve if he had come across any of Morgan’s jewelry? Like what? He wondered. I had quickly rattled off a half dozen I could most vividly remember, and he looked in drawers and boxes, and I looked again through places I hoped they would be. There were soon tears, because not one, but all I could remember were no longer to be found. As if they had all left with Morgan. In a state of shock you are not sure what to do at exactly that moment. It became another of the questions that would certainly be answered in the future.
I did tell the detectives, I’m not sure if it was Megan or Rob that I told first. In fact all that I am sure of is that it was long before the toxicology results came back. That was a moment we were both waiting for with great anticipation since so far we had only been told that her death was a mystery, and her autopsy had resulted in no good clues, we wanted to know, so it would be behind us, and at the same time we could move forward with the answers of what had happened. I began a mental list of things I knew were missing, then jotted some down, but it was too painful to recount. Later, when Rob asked me to find pictures of each one of them, Steve raised his hand and said, “some other day, that will have too wait for some other day!” It was too painful right now and we returned to the task at hand.
Steve had bundles of boxes that were meant to pack the house with prior to Morgan’s death, and for now the house was on hold, so they were used for Morgan’s room. Every item carefully inspected and packed away. Her panic button was next to raise up as a mystery of her death, I won’t say where I found it, but it was not where it had been, securely affixed to her nightstand. When I found it it was now torn loose and hidden, a press still sounded the alarm in our room, but from where it was found it would never have been reached by Morgan in a moment of panic on her last night.
Looking back I’m not sure why we did not raise the flag and start screaming something was seriously amiss here, but I was still trusting, and we were still in what has been explained to me as a grief bubble at the time. I had ultimate faith in our Sheriffs to do their job and come come up with the answers. We now had more to give them, more for them to work with. Going from a daughter full of life, tired and stressed, because of 4 months of a relentless stalker, to a daughter cremated and memorialized was beyond comprehension. Correctly handling the little details now being encountered was beyond all possibility.
After walking around the room for some time Steve had an observation of his own to share. Her P. J.’s were not there. He had said goodnight to her and remembered what she was wearing at that time, now as he whirled around he did not see them anywhere. Then he suddenly calmed “The Coroner took them.” he said, certain that they were now part of the investigation going on. He remarked that it was silly for him to have not realized that, and apologized for upsetting me even more with his sudden outburst.
He thought we had done enough for one day. Morgan’s room, with everything Morgan filled it with, was too much to describe or to handle, we had two almost filled boxes sitting on the floor, and that is how it would stay until tomorrow or the day after – this was enough for today. This project had its own timetable, just to stand in there and look around I saw her whole room trying to talk to me, it was like it all held a message. That slow and careful was really the correct way to do this – I did not question this, so I reluctantly stepped back from the task we had started, and left her room, saying goodbye, letting the tears flow, and closing her door.
I immediately asked if we had enough boxes, and Steve assured me we probably had enough for the house, and so we definitely had enough for Morgan’s room. He thought it was a very good that we were packing it up first. Thinking that maybe if we were to make some momentous discovery, it was far better to do this sooner than later, and for now we left what we had accomplished with more to sort through on another day.
I thought of her friends, and began to call them and invite them over in case there was a book, or a picture, or something else of Morgan’s they would like to have to remember their friend by. Everyone I was able to reach was quite happy with the thought, and we all made plans to meet soon.
Today is January 27, 2013 – And at the beginning there were so many mistakes it is hard to pick that which was the most momentous. I have many times in the realm of fate heard the idea that if you change just one thing then everything else in the future is altered as well. While I’m not sure if I do believe that completely, there is unarguably a change in the course of Morgan’s stalking that would have, or could have altered – the end.
So as I sit here over a year later, and force myself to pick the first change that could have meant a difference in Morgan’s stalking outcome, I end up with the reaction to the first little noise. Morgan never thought in terms of – criminal invasion of privacy, or even worse, an Invasion of Privacy for Sexual Gratification, a Peeping Tom. She had never been exposed to such horrors and choose to think it was leaves blown by the wind rubbing on her window. Not a stalker, she had never even seen anyone to accompany the noise.
When she told Steve and I about it for the first time she said it was strange, and it worried her a little, but she was sure if her dad were to just cut back the branches by her windows, the noise would stop. Oh, if only this were so simple as pruning a few branches, but as you all know, we were not that fortunate.
And my message now is not to live in fear, but to be aware. A little noise from branches, how easy that was to believe, and at the same time how easy it would have been to go right out that night to look and see instead of waiting until the next morning as we did. Even better educate your children that any noise on their windows or walls does not mean something is wrong, it just needs to be investigated, by adults, whenever you hear them. It might be a big branch that can break the glass, or a gutter torn loose and waving up against the house. A quick look by mom or dad, and no worries. If it turns out to be a potential Invasion of Privacy for Sexual Gratification you want to know now! Not tomorrow!