Two women, both named Mary Morris, are murdered in the same town within 72 hours.

Mary Lou Morris & Mary McGinnis Morris

Both were found dead in their cars

CASE DETAILS

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.

Who called the newspaper?

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:

“I called a supervisor and found out she wasn’t at work. That’s when I knew immediately that there was something wrong, ’cause she didn’t miss work.”

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:

“There was no reason for it whatsoever. She was just a really good person, you know? Never did anything bad to anybody. They asked about everything from gambling to drugs to affairs to anything, and all the answers were no.”

A suspicious call was made to Mary’s cell phone

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:

“Mary was like an angel. She was very joyful, always happy, making people laugh. Not enough words, really, to describe her. I mean, she was just really loved by everybody.
At work, anything a doctor would do, Mary did. She would work 14 hours a day and not think twice, go back in the evening, weekends, whenever she was needed.”

Were the murders a bizarre coincidence?

According to friend Laurie Gemmell, Mary got along well with everyone on her staff, except for one new employee, a male nurse:

“She told me that she was afraid of this person that she worked with. And I said, ‘Do you really think he could hurt you?’ And she said, ‘Yes, I do, and I think he could do worse.’”

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:

“She found things out of place on her desk, pictures turned to face the wrong direction. On his desk was written the words “death to her” which she assumed was written about her.”

Mary’s husband, Mike Morris, recalled talking to Mary that day:

“She made a phone call to me on her way home and I could tell that she was shaken. She got home and she asked me if I would provide her with a gun to carry with her for her own protection. She asked me to go over the handling and use of the gun. When we were finished, she asked me to place the gun in her car under the driver’s seat.”

A few weekends later, Mary met her friend, Laurie, at the clinic to give her a flu shot:

“Mary seemed fine that Sunday and she was only going to stay a couple of hours and then she was going to go home.”

Laurie said that she later received a call from Mary, who sounded panicked:

“When she was in the drug store, she saw somebody that gave her the creeps. She said, ‘I’m just gonna run across the bridge and turn off my computer and sign out of the building and go home.’”

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:

“We’re not releasing the content of the tape. It covers the attack that happened to Mary. And anybody that’s ever heard that tape has just had their blood chilled listening to it. It’s a very chilling, disturbing call.”

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:

“Witnesses don’t need attorneys. Suspects generally have attorneys.”

Mike Morris says he was only following the advice of some trusted friends:

“Several of these people suggested that I take an attorney with me, not because I had anything to hide, but just to have somebody with me that was familiar with the procedures.”

When detectives asked Mike to take a polygraph test, he refused:

“I was on anti-anxiety medications, I was on anti-depressants. I wasn’t really sure that the polygraph examination that they were talking about could adequately compensate for all of those conditions.”

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:

 “They both looked me in the eye and they both told me that there had been nothing inappropriate in their relationship. And I didn’t see any betrayal in their eyes.”

Then, there was the question of motive. Det. Kuhlman said that Mary had a life insurance policy worth $700,000:

“There was a large amount of life insurance on Mary Morris and Mike Morris was the beneficiary. There were a lot of reasons, right there, in the way of a motive for Mike.”

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:

“This was, by all indications of the cellular telephone company, a completed call. What you have to wonder is, what did that phone call either set in motion or end?”

Mike Morris couldn’t explain the call:

“Normally, the cellular service would have kicked in and said that the party you were calling was unavailable. I didn’t get that. I don’t know why I didn’t get that. But as long as the phone was ringing and I thought that there was a possibility that she would answer it, I let it ring.”

But that raised yet another question. Det. Kuhlman wondered why the call showed up on Mary’s cell phone bill if no one answered:

“I don’t accept that Mike made this phone call and that the phone rang for four minutes. It’s not possible. The question is: Who answered the phone on the other end? That’s what the big question is. And what did they talk about for the four minutes?”

Mike Morris firmly denies any involvement in Mary’s death:

“I had absolutely nothing to do with the arrangement of Mary’s murder. It’s a hurtful insinuation.  It’s absolutely untrue.”

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:

“A call came in to the Houston Chronicle, and I verified this with somebody at the Chronicle, between the time the first Mary Morris was killed and the time my friend was killed, saying something to the effect that they got the wrong Mary Morris the first time.”

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:

“If someone had put a hit out on a person, that’s what they’d take back to show that they actually killed that person.”

Detectives also looked at the possibility that the two murders were connected.  Det. Robert Torry:

“Well, with the remoteness of the location where the victim was found, as well as the effort that was taken to destroy the evidence and the vehicle, that would be consistent with a contract killing. But with the background of the victim, that doesn’t seem likely.”

Det. Wayne Kuhlman:

“That the first Mary Morris was a mistake, a missed hit, a botched hit, something like that, there’s not anything that we found that would support that.”

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:

“The astronomical odds that two Mary Morrises were killed three days apart, very similar in looks, to me, that’s what it is. Astronomical odds that they’re not connected.”

Laurie Gemmell agreed:

“I can’t help but think they have to be related. I can’t imagine that two women with the same name would be murdered within three days of each other, both found in their cars, and not have that be related.”

According to police, both the co-worker of Mary McGinnis Morris and her husband, Mike, have not been ruled out as suspects.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eleven with Robert Stack and in season three with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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31 Comments

  1. thinkingoutloud

    i think the husband had something to do with it. the phone call made me very suspicious. yes even today ill call someone and itll kepp ringing and ringing with no answer and without going to voicemail, BUT i’ve never waited on a call for 4 mins straight without getting any response. i definately think he made a phone call to someone on the other line and he’s covering it up. 4 minutes is a long time to wait and let the phone ring. why not hang up after a few seconds and make multiple calls until it goes through or to voicemail?? he definately made a phone call and he’s lying about it. would not have waiting 4 minutes on a call that never went through. i agree with everyone else commenting on his ‘arrangement of her murder’ comment. seems like he would know her murder was planned or arranged. he and the coworker have soemthing to do with it. maybe mary was having an affair and it was cofnirmed and he was very upset about it and had her murdered.

    Reply

  2. Anonymous

    This is Judy, and I was hired by Mary McGinnis Morris to replace Duane ans the Nursing Manager,was there when Mary was murdered. I loved Mary from the bottom of my heart! Duane your behavior was very suspicious during the weeks after Mary’s murder snd you have no business practicing nursing!!! You need psychiatric help and are not competent to care for patients!

    Mary called me the morning before she died and asked me to go with her to lunch and meet her at the office. I told her no that I was going to work in my flight work in my yard at my property. I was at the memorial service and basically took over Mary’s position. A number of emails showed up in my office email between Mary and her husband and they were very telling! I believe Mike Morris was involved because Mary found child porn on his computer and she was going to leave him!!

    My prayers to Mary’s daughter and family!! DNA has come a long way and I firmly believe the true criminal will be brought to justice!!! Mary’s compassion had a huge impact upon my life and I am presently pursuing a doctorate in nursing (DNP). She is one of the best nurse practitioners In have ever known and I miss her.

    Love hugs and prayers the Mary’s family!!

    Reply

  3. Anonymous

    The 4 minute cell call, the detective said “that’s impossible”… he is ignorant. I have had that exact same thing happen with both cell and landline phones. I have called family, they have answering machines and/or voicemail, but for whatever reason, the line rings and rings. I of course don’t know if settings have been changed, so I let it ring. When there is no answer after an extended time, I disconnect, and press redial (just to make sure there wasn’t a phone system malfunction). Sometimes I’ve gotten the machine/voicemail, and I’ve even gotten an answer, being told that the phone hadn’t rung once before.
    Phone systems are FAR from infallible.

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  4. Anonymous

    Duane, really? Are you admitting guilt? As far as I know only 3 people would know what is one the recording…Mary, the police and of course the murderer.
    You failed to mention how many polygraph test you have failed. And the fact you have called every government agency and tv show to tell them you were going to be arrested.

    Reply

  5. Leigh

    This story gave me cold chills.

    Reply

  6. Niki

    Joan Jeffries was also found in her car dead in 1994, November 29. I know this because I was looking at similaritys between people murdered near where I live so I know I’m safe, my family is safe as well as my friends. I guess we’re not even though Houston is not the city where I live.
    Both Mary’s were killed in less than 72 hours apart, and we don’t know how they were murdered while Joan was shot twice in the head. The person that was to blame for Joan’s murder was caught but not proven guilty. His name was Sam Patel. Who knows where he is now.
    Please comment for more information about Joan Jeffries.

    Reply

  7. Meddling Chihuahua

    You gotta love POI’s who have time and energy (but apparently not spelling or grammar) to “defend” themselves on message boards for syndicated television shows but none to benefit the families of victims or help the case itself. The creeper who harassed Mary and her husband both need to get over themselves. If you have something to help solve either case, then talk to law enforcement. Otherwise, go sit and spin. You aren’t doing anything but making yourselves look worse and distracting from what the true focus should be: the victims. If “Duane’s” replacement nurse, Judy, really did find incriminating emails regarding Mary’s husband, especially something as vulgar and evil as child pornography, I seriously hope this was reported to law enforcement. That is not something that needs to remain “gossip”.

    This case seems like it should be solvable. It seems like a PERFECT choice for the Vidocq Society. If someone related to the case or two either victim hasn’t heard of them before, I urge you to Google them and consider submitting the case to them. They are a group of retired professionals in all areas of criminal justice and law enforcement who dedicate their time and talents to solving cold cases.

    Reply

  8. Anonymous

    Mike Morris was my wife’s uncle. I remember getting the call that Mary was killed. Part of this post reminded me of the tone he showed me gun safety.

    Reply

  9. Anonymous

    There are a lot of quacks on this site huh?

    Reply

  10. BRYAN ROSENBAUM

    ALL WE KNOW IS THE HUSBAND GOT AWAY WITH THE LIFE INSURANCE MONEY AFTER THE ARRANGEMENT.

    Reply

  11. Kristan Reilly Small

    Hi ive helped solve a few murders and got suspects to tell the truth. I have came close to death quite a few times. But i can solve this very easily if you desire my help i shall fit you in… You can email me at abbisuttles@gmail.com. And yes that is my name but it is about to be changed to the name i love with an exs last name that commited suicide… Hope to hear from you. Thanks Kristan

    Reply

  12. A

    Did the attacker not speak on the 911 recording? I know it must be hard to identify someone by there voice on a recorder but surely that’s a good starting place!
    Also if Mary said anything during the attack? I’m sure the police do there best but mistakes are made.
    My deepest sympathies go out to the family, I’m sorry for your lose and suffering.

    Reply

  13. Anonymous

    There are more than one recording. I am not speaking about any 911 recording. Of course I have not heard it. According to Timmy, Katy and Timmy listened to it (provided by detectives) in West Virginia in 2007. That is all I know. I made my own recordings in about 2001 or 2002 and detectives listened. I didn’t fail any polygraphs for your information. I cooperated fully. Mike Morris did not. Who was he protecting? I did not contact any government agency or TV show to inform anyone that I was going to be arrested. You have libeled me and you are subject to a law suit if my attorney and I decide that route. Enough is enough “little sister”. Duane

    Reply

  14. Duane

    I made the recording myself and forwarded to Detective Hunter

    Reply

  15. Duane Young

    There was no connection between myself and Mike Morris as far as some joint conspiracy. Recordings proved that. The coworker

    Reply

  16. Anonymous

    Was the cell phone belonging to Mary Mcginnis Morris ever fingerprinted? Was there DNA evidence collected from under her fingernails? I am sure she put up quite a fight.

    Reply

  17. SM

    I believe the husband of Mary Mcginnis Morris and the co worker are most likely involved. Did the investigators check both bank accounts? Search both homes? Bloody clothes? It is hard to believe these cases have not been solved after so many years. My deepest sympathy to both families.

    Reply

  18. Anonymous

    I agree. I think the husband and co worker are involved. Did the investigators check bank accounts? Search both homes? Bloody clothes? I can’t believe these cases remain unsolved. My deepest sympathy to the families.

    Reply

  19. anonymous

    I agree. The co worker and husband most likely suspects. Check bank accounts of each, looking for withdrawals and deposits. Were both homes searched? Tire tracks? Bloody clothes? I can’t believe these cases have not been solved! My deepest sympathies to both families.

    Reply

  20. unsolved

    We are sorry for the inconvenience. Mary Morris was found dead on 10/12/2000, and Mary McGinnis Morris was found dead on 10/16/2000.

    Reply

  21. Anonymous

    Why are so many of these stories completely without any dates?

    Reply

  22. MT

    The co-worker and the husband. How about unusual large money transaction on them to see if there was ever any connection between the two

    Reply

  23. Anonymous

    There is nothing hidden that will not come to the light! sooner or later God will make justice!

    Reply

  24. Anonymous

    Sounds like a terminate situation.

    Reply

  25. johnson

    why would the husband Mike Morris say that he has nothing to do with the “arrangement” of the murder. if nothing has been confirmed that a “hit” was made then why would he use that word…

    Reply

    • Denise

      Yes I agree. I wondered why he said arrangement too if there was no proof of how she died. And two Mary’s killed three days apart with the same names and insurance on one is highly suspicious to me. Sounds like an amateur hit to me.

      Reply

    • Anonymous

      I was wondering the same smh….he told on himself! and the phone call… I don’t understand how he was ruled out…maybe not enough evidence but he knows more then he’s saying…its usually someone close to the victim.

      Reply

  26. sarah connor

    Sounds like the work of a t-800 terminator

    Reply