Man charged with killing family captured
Sunday, January 5, 2003
BAKER CITY, Ore. -- A fugitive charged with killing his wife and three children and dumping their bodies in a forest was captured Saturday after a two- week manhunt, prosecutors said.
Edward Morris, 37, was arrested without incident in a drug store parking lot here, said Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff. He had been described as "armed and dangerous" but authorities did not say whether he had a weapon.
The bodies of Renee Morris, 31, Bryant, 10, Alexis, 8 and Jonathan, 4, were found by hunters Dec. 21 on an isolated road in the Tillamook State Forest. Police believe they were killed the day before.
The area, in mountainous forest about 70 miles west of Portland, is covered with second growth timber and underbrush; it is popular with dirt bikers, all-terrain vehicle riders and hunters.
Authorities have not specified how the victims were killed, but autopsies completed late last month showed the four victims died of "homicidal violence," according to court documents. No motive has been determined.
Prosecutors charged Morris with murder while he was still a fugitive. He had lived with his family in Portland.
Tom Stubblefield, spokesman for the family of Renee Morris, said they are "really elated, relieved" about the arrest. "Overall I think the family will sleep well tonight," he said.
Two witnesses spotted Morris's gray 1993 Dodge Caravan near the town of Durkee, called police and followed him about 20 miles to Baker City. A $50,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the arrest; it was not immediately clear whether that money would go to the witnesses.
Shirtcliff said Morris was not in jail but was "in a secure location with the major crime team."
He said Tillamook County authorities were flying to Baker City and would take over the case.
Relatives and neighbors described the Morrises as extremely religious and dedicated to their children.
Edward Morris had trouble holding a job and started several roofing and landscaping businesses over the past years. The Morrises filed for bankruptcy in 1993 for one of those businesses, Sunrise Roofing, according to court records.