The Morgan Ingram Memorial Theatre Scholarship – 2 more students have been selected…congratulations!

On January 6th I received a manila envelope in the mail and opened it. It was from the  Colorado Mountain College Foundation…I started to read the first letter, and I cried, and cried like a little baby. They were tears of happiness and gratitude. It was a letter to inform me about the 2 students that have been selected as the recipients of the Morgan Ingram Memorial Theatre Scholarship for CMC Theatre Degree students for this current academic year.

They were thanking Steve and I for being instrumental in providing financial assistance to these students as they pursue their academic and career goals. All I could think of was how happy and grateful I was that the Memorial Theatre Scholarship that we set up in Morgan’s name is still helping students to achieve their goals.  Morgan would be so very happy. Her heart was bigger than life, she was an amazing person who touched everyone she came in contact with. She truly enjoyed her involvement at Colorado Mountain College and constantly emphasized her appreciation of education by encouraging others to continue their education, and pursue their own passions.So I want to congratulate Bella Barnum and Shelby Lathrop for being the selected recipients of the scholarship for the current academic year. I know Morgan is so very proud of you both – you will both go far I know.Bella thank you for letting me know that the beauty of Morgan’s smile greets you every morning (Morgan’s picture is in the case) in the New Theatre space and inspires you to do your best. That is so beautiful, and it fills my heart to hear.

And Shelby you have many dreams, but I can tell that you will work hard to achieve them…working hard you will realize those dreams, and I am so happy for you!

I hope that the Morgan Ingram Memorial Theatre Scholarship for CMC Theatre Degree Students keeps receiving support from around the world in Morgan’s name and many others can be assisted as they pursue their dreams.

If you are interesting in donating to this scholarship (and thank you so much to those who have already donated to the scholarship fund) please contact Carol J. Efting she is the Scholarship and Records Coordinator, Colorado Mountain College Foundation, P.O. Box 1763, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602, Phone 970-947-8378, Fax 970-047-8385 www.cmcfoundation.org and please let her know you would like your tax-deductible contribution to be directed towards the Morgan Ingram Memorial Theatre Scholarship for CMC Theatre Degree students. Thank you all so much – I know Morgan blesses you for it.

Colorado Mountain College Foundation | Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
www.cmcfoundation.org
Creating Better Futures

Protection Orders – should you get one or not? The million dollar question.

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Ask most any law enforcement officer if they agree with protection orders, and you will most likely get an answer something like, you are taking a big chance with protection orders.  And are they are right, and if so why?  Because too many times a TRO, aka Temporary Restraining Order, aka Protection Order is issued and the person meant to be protected is vandalized, beaten or killed.  Doesn’t sound like a very good thing does it?

But how could this be?  If you are being stalked or a victim of a sexual crime, or domestic abuse you need protection, you deserve protection, your life depends on it.  And once again, why is that?  Because your tormentor, your perpetrator, the pervert who has you in their cross hairs needs to be stopped NOW, and the ugly truth is that at present this piece of paper states simply, “you (the perpetrator) need to stop this, now, or else!  This person is so close to unhinged that a little piece of paper like this could send him or her over the edge, completely unhinged, and they will retaliate, against you, for doing nothing except trying to protect yourself, your children, and your pets.  And your death could be on the table as one of the potential retaliations to this piece of paper.

Then of course there are the less lethal varieties of retaliation, your tires could be sliced, all four, your home may be entered and destroyed, your pets could be threatened, and then killed, on and sickening on, and sickening on.  Doesn’t sound very much like protection does it?  And if your perp is that close to being unhinged to begin with shouldn’t that be a clue as to how dangerousness he is to begin with?

Ever notice that if law enforcement is responding to a call, and there is a warning that the suspect is “to be considered armed, and dangerous” oh boy, there is now an entirely new protocol in place.  Double the responders, weapons all drawn, shoot to kill.  Why is a Protection Order in Place less important?  Why is a suspected felony stalking that includes tapping on windows again any less of a danger?  Why was a call for Morgan less important than “to be considered armed, and dangerous”.  Why is she dead while her tormentor lives on?  To Steve and I this does not seem very fair, or equitable.

Morgan identified her stalker to others, including law enforcement over 35 times.  Five months after her death the Garfield Sheriff’s Department not only had no suspect, they all of a sudden NEVER had a suspect.  Who was it that Morgan was reporting?  K.V.G.,  grand theft auto, trespassing, breaking and entering, theft by receiving (as part of a plea bargain), possession with intent to distribute,  identified by J.H., B.H’s father, as the stalker.  The stalker that I was told with certainty, to the exclusion of all others, by the detective assigned to catch him, only two days before Morgan was murdered.  The same detective that told me that things might escalate.  The young man in question who so quickly pointed the finger at his “ex” girlfriend.  Then pointed the finger at his next door neighbor, sorry Wiley, we know better, but he did try to blame you. The young man in question, that pillar of society, according to his manager at work, caught with a trunk load of drugs, and a scale, who regularly pawned gold for cash to the point they instantly recognized him as a regular customer.  Where is he getting all this gold to pawn anyway? isn’t that worthy of one question?  And in case you forgot, all of Morgan’s valuable jewelry was missing the night she was killed.  Pumped up with at least 2,500 mg of a deadly drug.  While pathologists across the country are lost for an explanation as to how her levels could be just under 8,000 ng/ml, which is ten times the level that would have caused little Morgan’s lethal dose.  You read right, they were ten times what would have caused her death!

Dr. Kurtzman, the Forensic Pathologist that did Morgan’s autopsy had no problem with an explanation, “insignificant”, that’s what he said it was, insignificant even when questioned by other doctors!  Until almost nine months later, when he decides it suddenly becomes “significant”, so much so that it proves her suicide, is this guy really serious?  Did he talk with Morgan’s doctors, any of them? NO!  Did he talk with her teachers, any of them?  NO!  Did he talk with her friends, any of them?  NO!  Did he talk with her parents, yes he did, and when we told him that she wasn’t taking that he told us the parents are always the last to know.  I said that is not true, and he hung up.

I could go on for hours, but I’m sure you get the idea. Did they have a suspect? Yes!  A #1, oh he did it, we are a 100% sure suspect.  They just changed their mind, the Sheriff’s Department, after Morgan was found dead.  Morgan does not get to change her mind, she suffers the consequences of incompetence, forever.  Dead at age twenty, with a book full of plans for her future, only two years left before she can get her Bachelor’s degree and take the LSAT’s to go to law school, and the Sheriff’s department is content to read through her iphone, and decide no evidence on her death existed there.

Then where was it?  The evidence? Or was Garfield County just more concerned with keeping their perfect suicide record they have going?

So what about those protection orders?  I feel like it comes down to who is enforcing them, how, and how seriously.  When I asked in the beginning about a protection order for Morgan I got double talk.  It went like this – If you hold off on the protection order, we can do all these things that we won’t be able to do after you get a protection order.  Sounded good so we held off with a protection order and then they promptly did none of the things they were going to do if we held off with the protection order.  What exactly was the reasoning for that?

Read about protection orders, they travel with you.  It is up to you, but a copy can be filed with every law enforcement agency at places you travel to, and they are required to be upheld.  Are you thinking that only if you travel they are worth it?  Remember my story about different agencies right here in the valley that do not communicate?

If Morgan had a protection order I could have filed it with the Garfield Sheriff’s Department, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department, the Aspen Police Department, the Snowmass Police Department, the Basalt Police Department, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Department, the Carbondale Police Department, the Colorado State Troopers, and the Glenwood Springs Police Department.  Then whenever Morgan saw the man, anywhere in this valley, that she had identified over 35 times to others, she would have an agency to call and they would be required to arrest him.  Do you know how I know this?  A lawyer explained it for me last week.  Not Morgan’s detective who told me to hold off so he could implement a few things first, then did nothing.  A lawyer told me.  And this was just one of the many reasons he told us about protection orders, some were good, and some were not so good.

MISTAKE, trusting the local law when it comes to protection orders, see a lawyer or see a judge, and ask their advice, then ask the judge for free legal counsel, call victims rights in your state, and ask them for a referral.  Don’t let your child get killed.  They mean far too much to you, and to the world.  And you deserve answers, early and often, not apologies, and avoidance, long after it is too late.

Morgan prays for all of the victims in the world…Steve and I join her.  You deserve the best – the absolute best.

December 7, 2011 – Day 6 of Morgan’s investigation – putting together the pieces

Our most precious gifts are our children.  Protecting them comes first.

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!

December 6, 2012 – Day 5 of Morgan’s investigation

I woke up this Tuesday morning with a very calm feeling.  Tonight is Morgan’s Memorial Service at 6:00 pm.  It was so strange, because even with the unbelievable sadness I was carrying around with me, I also felt a feeling of peace that seemed to be broadcast from Morgan…I felt that she was now an angel, and guiding me.  She seemed to be saying that everything was OK.  I opened my drawer to reach for my hairbrush and saw some of the little Mother’s Day coupons Morgan had made for me, but I had not yet redeemed.  One was for a mother-daughter craft day, one for a clean kitchen, one for a hike by the river, one for a hike anywhere of my choosing, one for a day at the ranch together with our horse, and one for a dinner of my choosing (that one I had always known what I was going to ask her cook for me – her roasted beets with a yogurt sauce, and Lamb Korma).  Seeing these coupons and knowing that I could never again do these things with Morgan brought tears again to my eyes, and then all of a sudden there came an extremely warm feeling that blasted my shoulders and cursed down my back calming me down, and refusing to let me cry and I knew again it was Morgan – at that very moment I knew one day I would be able to do all those things that were left on her coupons by myself, but still knowing that she was right there by my side.  We all have our own journey, and Morgan was still on hers…but I knew she would still be next to me whenever I needed her.

We then had to coordinate with everyone in order to have a few people go over to the Farnum Holt Funeral Home to pick up Morgan’s ashes, and all the flowers, and then we had to go over to the Church to help the volunteers that were putting all Morgan’s friend’s Facebook comments on the bulletin board in the entry of the church, along with all the decorations, art supplies (Morgan loved art) so people could create something or write something if they would like to after the ceremony, and then put it in the bonfire to turn into ash, and have it rise up to heaven.  The Memorial Service was a blur to me, I guess I was in shock and so was Steve, but a wonderful young man took a video of it and so many months later, when we were stronger, we were able to sit down and watch the video and see who was there, and what was said.  It was truly a beautiful tribute to Morgan, thanks to all our family members, the many volunteers and Pastor Chad Webb of the Christ Community Church in Basalt, CO.  We were all so thankful for all the hugs, flowers and expressions of love given to us.  The two detectives that were assigned to Morgan’s felony stalking case were at the Memorial as well, but other than that there really was nothing else going on with her investigation on this day that I know of.

The other thing that happened after the ceremony was that I sat down and started to read all the cards and notes and letters everyone left – I was so filled with emotion I couldn’t contain it – all these young adults were able to verbalize on paper far better than I had ever thought possible, it made me understand my daughter better…when she would say I have to go meet a friend that needs me, I would always say, “Morgan it can’t be that important, do you have to take off immediately?”, and Morgan would always say, “for this person it was important”, so to her it was important – so many loved her.  Here are a few examples that I wanted to share with you:

* I love you Morgan!  Thanks for blessing our lives with your lovely adventurous kind spirit.  I really enjoyed our time hanging out meditating, playing charades, taking backwards pictures, painting, cross dressing, dancing, contemplating the beauty of life and people, and whatever else we shared…God bless you.  It was blissful in a way I can’t even describe…May your spirit meander on and spread love! – Patrick

* Dear Morgan, words can not explain how heart broken I am.  Whenever I saw you, you would come up to me and give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  I loved it when you came to my high school and just sat around doing college work.  My friend Travis told me about what happened, I could not believe it.  I thought it was a joke…me not having slept for 4 days and hearing about this made me fall to the ground and sob in my friends dorm room.  You are now part of everyone who loved you dearly.  I will take some of your beauty and keep it with me forever.  I will forever miss you.  Love from all of my heart – Carina

* A shadow came in the night to steal your beautiful soul, your light in this world will be sorely missed.  All I can hope is that wherever you may be, you’re at peace and know how loved you are.  Rest in peace Morgan, I hope you realize what an impact you had on so many lives. – Nicoe

 * The Skate Fairy…she’d sit for hours while we skated, watching, while knitting or hipsta-maticing, completely content; one of my greatest motivators while behind the lens, anything I composed or created, she’d have something to say.  She was exceptional, she was Morgan. – Loren

* You made me laugh, and you made every room you were in smile.  Your beauty and soul will shine on forever – Adam

*You were a beautiful, kind, loving, magical lady.  No matter where you are now, it is surely a more beautiful place with you in it.  You will be missed Morgan. – Catherine

* Today is the celebration of your life and I wouldn’t trade the whole world.  I have been thinking about you nearly every minute of everyday for the past few days and remembering the great times we had together, even from the good old Aspen Community School days.  Good times.  After those days, you and I went our own separate ways for awhile, but lucky for me I got the chance to reunite with you, and I couldn’t be happier for that chance, you were always there for me, when I was down and always there for me when I was sick, and no matter what, you made me feel better, and made me get up and do stuff.  I just want to thank you for all the good times I had with you and all the great memories we have that I will never EVER forget.  Also, I would like to thank you for all the things you taught me about all the brighter ways to look at the world, you will always have a huge spot in my heart, and nothing could ever change that.  You were like the big sister I never had, as well as one of my best friends by the end of it.  Thanks for everything.  RIP, you are loved dearly and remembered for eternity! Jordan

* Morgan Ingram…I have been waiting for the past maybe 5 hours hoping to God this was some insane sick joke.  Despite my wishes it has become apparent that this is not the case.  You were one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known, you helped me through a lot of things, for that I thank you for being such a lovely inspirational person.  Referring to you in the past tense makes me sick to my stomach, but you will live on in the hearts of everyone who knew you forever. Tyler

*Don’t know why it’s always the ones with the most beautiful souls that are taken.  The way you lit up a room when you’d walk in, you could change the whole feel of things.  Last time I had seen you after months, you changed my whole mood.  It’s crazy what can happen when you’re out of touch and what you can miss.  I’m really grateful to have been close to you when we were younger, I got to see how creative you were and just straight beautiful inside and out.  You were always so great to everyone, even strangers I’d see you run in to, you changed people’s lives, and isn’t that what life is about?  Putting an impact on someone’s life in a positive way?  I think that and if that’s what it’s about then you sure did it right.  Man Morgan, everyone should wish to be the way you were, I’m sure everyone does and still does.  To have such a good outlook on everything and love things in a deeper more intense way.  I think you meet people for a reason, so you can learn either bad things to push away and learn good from someone like you to embrace.  I’m happy I met you and your artistic, loving soul.  You knew what peace was – I’m sure you’re wrapped in it now.  So truly Morgan Rest in Peace, you are so missed, but never forgotten. – Sydney

And even one really young girl:

- I love you so much!!!  Thank you for being like my big sister that I never had.  I wrote, and will still write about you in my diary, you will still always be in my heart.  I would like to see you in my dreams.  I hope you will see me from up there.  Many blessings up there – Sophia

And a poem written by Barbara:

Morgan – A lover of Life, A Painter of Dreams, A Dancer of Joy, A Poet, A Scholar, Deeply Loved and Sorrowfully Missed!

 

A little brightness of the world - captured by Morgan Jennifer

A little brightness of the world – captured by Morgan Jennifer