The Mary Morris Murders
On the afternoon of October 12, 2000, an ATV rider came upon a smoldering car in a remote area just outside of Houston, Texas. Inside the car, was the body of a female.
Four days later, and only a few hundred yards away, another woman was found murdered. She too had been killed in her car, which had also been burned.
Both of the women were professionals who resembled each other, both had a similar physical stature, and both drove similar vehicles. Both women had been killed in their charred cars near an isolated area outside of Houston. The two women also shared one more thing in common; both were named Mary Morris.
the two Mary Morris’s both lived and worked near Houston, Texas, but did not know one another. Forty-eight-year-old Mary Lou Morris worked as a bank loan officer. On the day she was found murdered, she was uncharacteristically absent from work and had not called offering an explanation.
Thirty-nine-year-old Mary McGinnis Morris was a nurse practitioner. She, too, was highly respected by her colleagues.
Mary Lou Morris had been burned so badly that it could not be determined how she had been killed. Mary McGinnis Morris had been beaten and shot in the head.
No one who knew Mary Lou Morris could think of anyone who would want to harm her. Two suspects, however, soon emerged in the death of the Mary McGinnis Morris.
Both killings remain unsolved.
Authorities are skeptical of any link, but as the women’s families grapple with their deaths, they say a connection may be the only explanation.
“It is just so astounding that two people by the same name, who to me look very similar, were murdered so close together,” said Marilyn Blalock, daughter of Mary Henderson Morris. “They were both brutally murdered, and no one has been charged in either case. It’s hard to say it was just coincidence.”
The families’ rationale hinges on the possibility that Mary Henderson Morris, 48, who was found dead in her charred car three miles from her Baytown home, was mistakenly killed by whoever wanted 39-year-old Mary McGinnis Morris dead.
“The (first) Mary Morris appears to have been killed by a total stranger, with a complete absence of physical evidence,” said Kim Ogg of Crime Stoppers, who has aided both families’ search for answers. “The (second) has multiple suspects and could have been a hit.”
Mary McGinnis Morris was wary of a male nurse who had recently been hired at the clinic. One evening, Mary had stopped at her office after hours and found her desk in disarray. On the nearby desk of the male nurse, she found the words “death to her” written on a tablet. Mary believed she was the “her.”
A few weeks later, Mary, using her cell phone, called a friend, saying someone had been following her while she was in the drugstore. Twelve minutes after ending the phone call, Mary called 911. Police have not released the recording of the call, but have described it as “bloodchilling.”
The male nurse quit his job at the clinic shortly after Mary’s murder. Detectives say they have evidence potentially linking him to the crime and consider him a suspect. Soon, however, another suspect emerged in the murder of Mary McGinnis Morris.
Several friends told police of marital problems between Mary McGinnis Morris and her husband Mike. Mary had told friends Mike believed she was having an affair. Mike says he had heard rumors of an affair between Mary and a family friend and that he confronted each of them. After doing so, Mike says he was satisfied there was not extramarital relationship.
More curious to the police was a four minute phone call Mike made to Mary’s cell phone two hours after she had called 911. Mike said he was on the line for four minutes before hanging up. However, the call appeared on Mary’s telephone bill, which it is only supposed to do if it is received. Mike says the call was not picked up and he did not hear the recording “the party you are trying to reach is unavailable.” The telephone company insists the call was “completed,” meaning it was answered.
Detectives find Mike’s explanation hard to swallow and believe the phone call may have been made to Mary’s killer, setting the plan to murder her in motion. In addition to believing Mary was having an affair, authorities believe Mike may have been motivated to murder his wife for her $700,000 life insurance policy of which he was the beneficiary.
Mike Morris refused to be questioned by police without an attorney present. He says he was following the advice of his friends to have someone present who was familiar with the procedures. Mike also refused to take a polygraph test, saying he was on anti-depressants at the time and was believed they would skew the results.
Shortly after the murders of the two Mary Morris’s, the Houston Chronicle received an anonymous phone call saying “they killed the wrong Mary Morris.”
Detectives say the location where both of the women were found, as well as the efforts to destroy the vehicles, are consistent with a contract killing. In addition, both women’s wedding rings were had been taken, possibly as proof of the murders.
However, police found nothing definitively supporting the “mistaken hit” theory and ultimately concluded the same names of the two murder victims was a coincidence. The male colleague and Mike Morris are still suspects in the murder of Mary McGinnis Morris while there are no suspects in the murder of Mary Lou Morris. Mary Lou’s husband Jay has been cleared of any involvement.
I am no detective, but it sure seems like a contract killing more than a coincidence.