Two women, both named Mary Morris, are murdered in the same town within 72 hours.
In a remote area outside Houston, Texas, a passerby made a gruesome discovery. Inside a smoldering car, he found a body burned beyond recognition. The C.S.I. unit was called and began searching for clues.
The car belonged to 48-year-old Mary Morris, who lived only three miles away. Her husband, Jay Morris, had not been able to reach her since she left for work early that morning:
Within a few hours, detectives delivered the news that the victim in the car was Mary Morris. The condition of the body made it impossible to determine how she was killed. Nor could police determine the motive. According to Marilyn Blalock, Mary had many friends, a successful career, and no known enemies:
Just three days after Mary Morris’ death, the case took a very strange turn. Not far from where Mary’s body had been found, another woman was viciously murdered. She, too, was killed in her car. And, incredibly, her name was also Mary Morris.
Two women named Mary Morris, both found murdered in their cars in the Houston area just three days apart, and both with similar physical descriptions. Coincidence? To find a possible link, detectives tried to piece together the events leading up to the death of the second victim.
Mary McGinnis Morris was 39 years old, and, like Mary Lou Morris, she was a successful professional with a lot of friends. She worked as a nurse practitioner in charge of several clinics for a major industrial corporation. Her sister, Stephanie Loar, described Mary as happy and dedicated:
According to friend Laurie Gemmell, Mary got along well with everyone on her staff, except for one new employee, a male nurse:
Soon after that conversation, Mary stopped by her office one evening to pick up some papers and became frightened by what she found there. According to Laurie Gemmell:
Mary’s husband, Mike Morris, recalled talking to Mary that day:
A few weekends later, Mary met her friend, Laurie, at the clinic to give her a flu shot:
Laurie said that she later received a call from Mary, who sounded panicked:
According to Det. Wayne Kuhlman of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, 12 minutes after saying good-bye to Laurie, Mary McGinnis Morris made a frantic call to 911:
The medical examiner’s report revealed that Mary was viciously beaten, then shot in the head.
Investigators focused first on Mary’s co-worker at the clinic. He had quit his job after allegedly trying to discredit Mary. Detectives claim to have evidence linking him to the crime, so he remains a suspect.
However, when investigators tried to question Mary’s husband, Mike Morris, his behavior aroused suspicion. According to Det. Wayn Kuhlman, Mike refused to meet with them without an attorney:
Mike Morris says he was only following the advice of some trusted friends:
When detectives asked Mike to take a polygraph test, he refused:
Authorities had also learned that Mike and Mary Morris were having serious problems with their marriage. When Mike heard rumors of an alleged affair between Mary and a family friend, he confronted them head on:
Then, there was the question of motive. Det. Kuhlman said that Mary had a life insurance policy worth $700,000:
But to police, the most curious evidence against Mike Morris was a call he made to Mary’s cell phone two hours after Mary had made her desperate call to 911. According to Det. Kuhlman, the call lasted four minutes:
Mike Morris couldn’t explain the call:
But that raised yet another question. Det. Kuhlman wondered why the call showed up on Mary’s cell phone bill if no one answered:
Mike Morris firmly denies any involvement in Mary’s death:
The questions remains: Why were Mary McGinnis Morris and Mary Lou Morris murdered and who killed them? Some think that a contract killer was hired to murder the second Mary Morris and killed the first Mary Morris by mistake. That theory is supported by a call allegedly made to a Houston newspaper. According to Laurie Gemmell:
The “hit gone wrong” theory is also supported by the fact that the wedding ring of the first Mary Morris was missing from the crime scene. Marilyn Blalock said she had heard that this is how a hit man proves he’s completed his job:
Detectives also looked at the possibility that the two murders were connected. Det. Robert Torry:
Det. Wayne Kuhlman:
Detectives continued to search for any clues that might connect the two Mary Morrises, but came up empty. They later concluded that the murders were a bizarre coincidence. However, many others, including Jay Morris, think that’s virtually impossible:
Laurie Gemmell agreed:
According to police, both the co-worker of Mary McGinnis Morris and her husband, Mike, have not been ruled out as suspects.