Tuesday, July 25, 2006
It's been ten years since Morgan Violi was abducted while playing with friends at her apartment complex. I wrote about this story in February but thought I'd bring it up again since it is something I think about often.
The Bowling Green Daily News published an article Monday about the ten year anniversary of her abduction. I can't help but feel for the family. Not knowing who did this and knowing he is still out there free just tears me up inside.
Daily News (Bowling Green, KY)Killer’s trail staying cold Morgan abduction, 10 years later
BURTON SPEAKMAN, The Daily News, email@example.com/783-3240
Published: July 24, 2006
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the abduction and eventual slaying of 7-year-old Morgan Jade Violi, and investigators are no closer to making an arrest.
Morgan’s family is still seeking answers to who may have killed the girl and what happened in her last few hours.
Her family is hoping that now that 10 years have passed, the person or persons responsible feel guilty and will confess to their role in the crime, said Linda Whitlow, her aunt, and Dewayne Whitlow, her cousin.
Having someone come forward would give the family a lot of closure, Dewayne Whitlow said.
Stacey Violi, Morgan’s mother, said that while she wants someone to come forward about the crime, she doesn’t know if it would bring her any closure.
“It won’t stop it from hurting. It wouldn’t bring my little girl back,” she said. “I would like to know everything about that day.”
They also want someone to be punished for Morgan’s death, Linda Whitlow said.
Although it’s been 10 years since Morgan was taken on July 24, 1996, in front of Colony Apartments off Shive Lane and later killed, sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday, Violi said in a recent phone conversation with the Daily News.
“That’s the day I lost my faith in the human race,” she said, at times crying. “I never realized there was anyone that evil who could just take her and do that.”
Violi said her anger makes her want retribution.
“Revenge is a double-edged sword, but I’ll suffer every day the rest of my life and I want someone else to suffer for the rest of their life,” she said.
Morgan was playing with a friend that day when she was grabbed by a man and taken way in a maroon van. The original Bowling Green Police Department reports list the driver of the van as a 6-foot 1-inch white male, weighing 180 pounds with brown hair and two to three days of beard growth.
A nationwide search and billboard campaigns led police on false chases. Morgan’s remains were found Oct. 20, 1996, along North Swift Road near White House, Tenn. The spot was close enough to Interstate 65 that traffic noises could still be heard.
The location, which then was sparsely populated and today has numerous houses, is about 40 miles from Bowling Green. The memorial that had been created there to remember Morgan is gone.
A white van was seen near the site where her remains were found, but it was never located. A search for the van, which had custom glass windows, was a large part of the investigation for some time.
The van was found at a truck stop on the Peytonsville Road exit off I-65 in Franklin, Tenn., according to FBI reports. The van had been stolen in Dayton, Ohio.
For several years, Kim Ferrell kept a memorial of a cross and roses dedicated to Morgan by the culvert where her body was dumped – Ferrell’s home then was less than 50 yards away. But that memorial is no longer there and much of the culvert has been covered for new driveways.
Ferrell no longer lives in the house, Violi said.
“I quit going down to that spot two or three years ago; it was just too hard,” Violi said.
Today, Violi and her daughters will go to Morgan’s grave and release 10 purple balloons to commemorate the years she’s been gone. They also will go on her birthday later this year and release 18 for each year she would have been alive.
“The girls and I stick together. They lost their innocence that day, too,” Violi said. “Some people carry scars physically; others carry theirs emotionally.”
It was three or four years before Violi and her daughters could even have pictures of Morgan up in their home, she said.
“I just wonder if the person or persons responsible are able to lay down at night and close their eyes without thinking of Morgan in her last hours and even minutes,” Linda Whitlow said.
Morgan’s case was featured in a segment on the television show Unsolved Mysteries. Violi said she would like to do that again to try to get answers about her daughter’s death.
There are some cases that have been solved after several decades and this case is still being looked at, said David Beyer, media coordinator for the FBI office in Louisville.
“But the more years that pass, the less likely it becomes the person or persons responsible will be caught,” he said.
The FBI still questions anyone being investigated in a similar abduction about the Violi case, Beyer said.
Warren County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Roger Osborne said he was on patrol when the abduction call came in.
“We went up to the first overpass on (Interstate) 65 and watched the vehicles for one matching the description,” he said. “We (law enforcement) had the entire area surrounded.”
It is hard to believe the abductor was able to get out of the area, Osborne said.
Violi said she calls the FBI less often for updates about the case – the FBI would say they’re working on it, but there really aren’t any good leads.
The FBI received more than 2,000 leads in the case within months after Morgan was taken. Tips about the case still come in, Beyer said.
The community has really been there for the family, Violi said. She also credited Whitlow and her daughters for helping her deal with her grief.
People haven’t forgotten about Morgan, Violi said. She hopes her daughter’s story reminds other parents to hold on tighter to their children and keep an eye on them.
There have been two recent reports of what could have been attempted kidnappings – both involved a green van.
In June, two men in a green van approached children in a neighborhood off Plano Road. The men asked the children to help find their lost dog, a tactic often used by child predators, police said.
Then on July 11, a green van was spotted in a neighborhood off Three Springs Road and an occupant was apparently watching a young girl in the front yard.
Parents need to watch their children all the time when they’re outside, Violi said when asked about the recent reports.
“You can teach your children all the right things, but when push comes to shove, a child is no match for an adult,” she said. “Morgan was kicking and screaming, but she was still taken.”
If parents can’t watch their child while they’re outside, the child needs to come in, Violi said. If you see something suspicious, call the police.
“Morgan wasn’t the first child they saw. They came back into an apartment complex with one way in and out,” she said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
— Anyone with information about this case can call the FBI at (270) 583-3941 or the Bowling Green Police Department at 393-4244.
Copyright 2006 News Publishing LLC (Bowling Green, KY)