“Loving, blessed, and kind”: The Unsolved Death of Katherine Morris (Part 2)
Everyone’s story matters. While the overarching story of humanity is a long, messy, beautiful one that deserves to be shared, it is the billions of individual stories throughout history that create the threads in the tapestry of human history – stories that are often too short and will never have the resolution they deserve.
This interview tells the story of Katherine Sarah Morris, a vibrant and loving young woman studying Family Sciences at the University of Maryland. Katherine, or “Kathy,” was born on March 11, 1990 to Rev. Marguerite Morris and her husband, Rev. Willie Morris. She grew up in Maryland and became a foundational member of many of her parents’ ministries. She always had a heart for children, and would offer her skills to anyone in need (and she had a lot of skills!).
Tragically, Kathy’s story ended abruptly and mysteriously on May 6, 2012, when she was found dead in her car at the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, MD.
Her death was quickly ruled a “Suicide” by the Anne Arundel County Police Department (on the very same day of Kathy’s death, in fact). For a time, Rev. Morris and Kathy’s family accepted this conclusion… until they gathered evidence that suggested otherwise.
It was possible that Kathy’s death was not a suicide at all, but an event associated with Kathy’s boyfriend, who victimized her as part of a marriage scam. The police never investigated or even considered this avenue, but Rev. Morris and her family sure did. The military police did too, even charging his mistress Latoya King with lying to investigators less than 24 hours after Kathy’s body was found.
Rev. Morris spent a decade fighting to have the manner of Kathy’s death be changed from “Suicide” to “Undetermined” to allow for the possibility of a new investigation. She recruited forensics experts and investigators at great personal expense to assist her.
In 2021, an administrative law judge ruled that the Anne Arundel County Police Dept. had made serious errors in not following up after the revelation of the additional evidence, and that her manner of death should be ruled “Undetermined”.
Despite this ruling, the Anne Arundel County Police Dept. refuses to put Kathy on their public list of unsolved cases.
Today, Rev. Morris continues to fight for police accountability throughout Maryland. She is the founder of several nonprofits and one of the founding members of the Anne Arundel Police Accountability Coalition. Kathy’s story stays alive because of the work and love of her mother, an eternal bond that not even death can break. In all that she does, Rev. Morris keeps Kathy close to her heart.
The Foundation hopes that this story on Kathy can be just one small way to keep her story alive; and that maybe, just maybe, someone will come forward with something they saw the night of her death that could give Kathy’s family closure.
To Rev. Morris and all others whose loved ones were impacted by police violence and misconduct: your stories matter, the stories of your loved ones matter, and we are here to listen.
If you missed Part 1, read it here to learn about Kathy’s life and the circumstances of her death.
If you have been impacted by police misconduct in Maryland, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experience.
*This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.*
…Did you wanna go more into that confusion with the grills? And… is Kathy’s death resolved, essentially?
No, it’s not resolved. This is a girl that’s found in her car, the carbon monoxide grills lit in her car. She died from carbon monoxide poisoning. But the challenge is, how did that carbon monoxide get into her system? And that remains a challenge…
On the night that her body was found in this car, this car was under the purview of at least four cameras. The only existing footage, thanks to the police department not doing their job, was about a 12-15 minute clip. That same clip was viewed by [Judge Susan Sinrod during a 2021] hearing and she made some interesting and new observations about that night…
Let me tell you about the car: there’s no damage inside the car from the grills, except on the front floor board. Reenactments show that they should have flared up [and left] burn marks. If they didn’t flare up, the grills had to be lit outside of the car. But there’s no evidence that anyone saw that in a crowded parking lot with people going back and forth.
This is the challenge we have today. We wanted the police to list this case as unsolved, but they’re not cooperating with that. Someone may have seen something outside the car. The reason for that is that if Kathy lit the grills outside the car, this was in a parking lot that was full of cars and movie goers and people going back and forth, someone may have seen the [grill] fire outside of the car that would’ve had to simmer down [to be placed in the car].
She would’ve also had to handle the grills with something because the grills would’ve been hot. Okay so let’s recap just that point alone. If she lit them in the car, there should have been fire damage. There’s no damage in the car from the grills. There’s no fire damage except for on the floor underneath the grills, but as far as upward damage there’s none.
I also would think that if you’re sitting in the car and you’re listening to music, you would’ve reclined yourself and listened to your music… and went on to sleep and let yourself go to sleep from carbon monoxide. That’s not what it was. Kathy’s body is found with her feet against the door on the driver’s side. Her body is stretched across the console and over into the passenger side, and it’s at an angle, and her face is down in the floorboard.
I’ll try to make this as clear as possible: first of all, Kathy is nine inches longer than the space across the car. From doorpost to doorpost, her body is nine inches longer than that. That was one of the things that we found out with the investigators. The console space, it’s very uncomfortable. Our medical person that worked with us said that her body was wider than that space.
The medical examiner [Dr, Patricia Aronica, under the watch of Dr. David Fowler]… said it looked like Kathy had put a pillow under herself between [her and] the console. That’s fake, because when you look at the pictures, she sat on a pillow like mommy sits on a pillow when she drives, and [pictures show] that pillow is still on the passenger side [of the] car.
Another thing about this scene is there’s something called spoilt evidence. Kathy’s body was initially discovered by a security guard (and what we will note is that even when he found her, there was no attempt by anyone to resuscitate, to do anything); but he was all over the car handling its content. He admits that during his own testimony.
He opened the car doors up. He said he didn’t take the keys out of the ignition, but the keys are seen on the seat of the car, which meant his fingerprints should have been on those keys. He went into the trunk of the car while her body was still in the car. This [is] before police even show up, and he was asked during deposition, “Why did you go into the trunk of the car? What were you looking for?” His response was that he thought she was drunk…
The security guard says that he didn’t move her body, [but] the judge noted that [it bothered her] the way Kathy’s clothes were twisted. Another witness deemed an expert remarked that it looked like she had been pulled into the car. One of the private investigators also had speculated that she could’ve been pulled into the car.
Now, I’m saying a lot of things, but in 2020 or 2021, one thing that we hadn’t noticed was this scenario, and the judge brought this to our attention. One, we did know that there was a witness that saw another SUV in that parking lot for hours. That witness contacted the police, and the police never contacted the witness back. When I deposed the witness, the witness said there was another vehicle. She said there was a woman sitting in that vehicle asleep. She said there was an SUV, because we originally thought she saw Kathy’s car, but she said “No, there was an SUV, which looked like there was a woman sleeping in it for hours.”
What the judge said in her 2021 opinion was that she didn’t understand why the police would not have followed up, because that could have very well been Kathy inside of an SUV, even though her body was found hours later inside of her own car as if it had been pulled into it.
The other thing that got us, and this is a long one again, was the GPS settings for her phone… Me and a private investigator actually drove the GPS settings. It looks like her phone started at the college, went to the mall, but then it goes around Anne Arundel County. It goes up, let me see if I can remember the roads, up Rt. 170, down Reece Road, up RT. 175, turning right on Rt 1 and returning back over to the mall. Like it goes around in a complete square.
What’s really strange about that is the police say without any evidence, and because they didn’t pull the records to verify that her phone never left the mall, yet we’re checking GPS settings that have the phone moving through the mall at periodic times because it’s pinging off of different places inside the mall.
Then we have the phone pinging at towers around Anne Arundel County and going back to the mall. The phone pinging off of different Wi-Fi locations inside the mall strongly implies that at some point Kathy or her phone were physically moving through the mall.
What’s amazing about that is ABC’s 20-20 was following my story. Then there is a company in Las Vegas [called Expert Data Forensics], that… selected one pro bono project a year. In 2014 they selected Kathy’s case. So with her electronics in hand I flew to Las Vegas. ABC’s 20-20 met me there.
To make a long story short – we’re in Las Vegas, 20-20 cameras are filming the extractions. I had been given a police department extraction (I can tell you more about that one later), that I took with me to Las Vegas… 20-20 is filming the extraction by the Expert Data Forensics team of volunteers. They started comparing the GPS settings. The GPS settings that showed Kathy’s phone not at the mall, [showed] as [being] deleted from the police GPS settings files.
So they instructed me in Las Vegas to take back both extractions, go to the police department, and ask them for the original extraction. The reason for this is because the extraction they gave us was a PDF file, which they said could be easily manipulated. They sent us back to the police to get the raw data files. That’s something that they failed to ever produce for the Morris family was the raw data files, which would’ve verified whether or not the GPS files had been manipulated. We were informed that they would have to have been manually deleted by someone at that police department…
It’s a lot when we talk about the murder scene itself. We also don’t know if Kathy was driving her vehicle when it got there, because… of all the footage that we talk about, four cameras at the site, there also were cameras on the way into the mall, there were cameras at the movie theater, and no-one ever checked any [footage] to see if Kathy was seen going into the mall.
Now, the reason I bring that up, and this is something that we didn’t talk about before, was because in our homework we were trying to look for a reason why Kathy would’ve been at the mall. And from her records, she and her friends had gone to the mall on Friday, May 4th to see The Avengers. But when they got there, the movie was sold out, but around the same time the next night the movie was playing. That’s why we wondered if there was a possibility of her having planned to meet somebody there. [Movie playing time records and exchanged texts from Kathy’s phone support this possibility]. That’s all because of us doing our own investigations.
I don’t know what I’ve left out, but there is a lot… We know the car was longer than she was; we know the grills, there was no fire marks from the grills; her clothes looked like they were tangled; her head is found down in the shoulder well of the door.
Several police officers that- we’ll say, “friendly” police officers, told the family that Kathy could not possibly have done that to herself…
Also, [the] burns on her back and ear were post mortem, which means her body was exposed to the grills after her death.
Two other things, I’ll say this before I give this back to Emma. The police gave us false DNA information, and it was a DNA expert that kind of broke it down to us during the hearing with Judge Sinrod. The police gave the NAACP false DNA results. They also said that her DNA was on certain items and it wasn’t on, or there were multiple DNA hits that were on items, and they never identified the other DNA hits.
Then one of the things that is most prevalent… I actually do mini-seminars called the “Cover Your Assets: Mind of Corporate America”; my demonstration has to do with the carbon monoxide grills. They are a popular form of suicide in Asian countries; however, [they] are also noted as a form of murder. One of the things that they use in the murder scenario is that they give the victim sleeping pills so there’s no struggle, and they found sleeping pills in Kathy’s system. They found a bottle of sleeping pills in her pocketbook. But you need to remember these things.
None of these things – not the grills, not the sleeping pills, nor the lighter, and I think there was one other item, none of those were found to have been connected with any purchases that Kathy made in the last months of her life. I got the receipts and I tracked the receipts: I looked at her purchases and went and called the stores and they gave me the receipts, and there weren’t any sleeping pills, there weren’t any grills. Anything that was used to end her life was not tied to Kathy.
One of the things that I show in that demonstration is that the pill bottle in her purse had no fingerprints. There’s no DNA on it. To open the pill bottle with a safety cap, if you take a pill bottle… anyone reading this, go in your medicine cabinet and get a pill bottle, with a safety cap on it, and take the lid off – you’ve gotta grip it with your hand and twist the lid. Can you do that and not leave prints or DNA? Well, there was nothing on the bottle found in Kathy’s car.
So, that’s a mystery in itself: how could she have opened that bottle in that car and there’d be no DNA of hers on that bottle? And that’s factual. You can’t even make that one up. You can’t put DNA <laugh> where it wasn’t found. But that wasn’t something that alerted the police at all.
…Do you have your own idea of what happened to Kathy?
Oh, that’s a different scenario. Do I have my own idea about what happened to Kathy? I think there’s a possibility… that there was a woman of interest out there who was like one of your made-for-TV movie vixens. I personally believe that she planned this thing, executed this thing, and I am alleging that he told her to do it.
They both knew there was an insurance policy, a $100,000 insurance policy; he had plans for that money. I believe that this woman, in my personal opinion, was capable of plotting this. ‘Cause you see, there were two women involved. One of them, like the perfect storm, has a degree in forensics. I know she may be innocent… but is it almost a mind boggling coincidence.. a degree in forensics?
And the other woman was the mistress of this guy. I believe, in my personal opinion, that she was in a place where she could set this whole thing in motion. They knew that Kathy had a previous suicidal… ideation. We don’t believe that she acted on it… back in December 2011, she had shared with me about that. She had gone into counseling and gone into the hospital and done the work to move through it.
But these people knew that as well. So the evilness of this is that even when Kathy was in the hospital and trying to work through all of this, and the husband had come here from Fort Bragg, NC, whenever he left the hospital he was going to his mistress in [Fort Belvoir], Virginia. His personal and “subpoenaed by mommy” phone GPS records confirm this.
You have this whole scenario behind the scenes. You have this scenario of these two older women calling [Kathy] 72 hours before her death… from a military installation (Fort Belvoir). They spent almost three hours trying to get ahold of this college student. They finally connect with her and have a mysterious five minute phone conversation while she’s at work-study at college. And whatever happened in that [phone call], we don’t know, except a little over 72 hours later one of them is dead.
Kathy was a victim of a marital scam in the military for Basic Allowance for Housing money. That’s where all of this started. That’s what all this was about. The housing allowance money and life insurance. [It] was a scam that was verified in the courts and in the admissions.
What we do know is what they claim happened. The mistress claimed that she was shocked and she was in tears and she was crying at this military installation because she found out this guy was married or something. That’s all false because we know that from the records. We know that from the admission of the other woman (the one with the Forensics degree) who said that the [mistress] came into her office crying, but yet they spent three hours trying to get ahold of Kathy. Some of this stuff is just, it’s unreal.
I believe that [the mistress] might have been in a position, in my personal opinion, to harm my daughter. They made this phone call… all within the same week of her death, Kathy sends these individuals, ‘cause she had captured proof of the… adultery and all this stuff. All three of these people would’ve been reprimanded, court-martialed, or lost their jobs for what they were doing to my daughter…
Kathy was a victim of a marital scam in the military for BAH money, Basic Allowance for Housing money. That’s where all of this started. That’s what all this was about. The housing allowance money and life insurance. [It] was a scam that was verified in the courts and in the admissions.
Back in March, Kathy had begun to capture proof of the scam by getting into [her husband Isaac Goodwin’s] Facebook, and she began to save into files called “things I found out”. There were screenshots from his Facebook account.
So 72 hours before her death, she emails these persons, all of this proof of the adultery and the scam that was being played on her. Threatening to go to the authorities that Monday.
And then the communications go silent. That’s what alarmed me. From that point on, there’s nothing heard from anybody until Kathy winds up being found dead on Sunday.
I also wanna say this: we interviewed the woman that has the degree in forensics. She and her husband told me this: they told me that the other woman, the mistress, came to their house on Saturday, told them Kathy was dead… and left her children there.
In the phone call I reiterated several times, “Are you sure it was on a Saturday?” She says, “Yes, it was on a Saturday, because we had a party for our children and it was a big birthday party and my husband and I had to take off.” Then her husband gets on the phone and he says, “Yes, it was a Saturday.” And then I wasn’t thinking… was one of those moments I should have kept my mouth shut, I said, “Well, Kathy’s body wasn’t found till Sunday…”
And then all of a sudden, they started retracting that. But I don’t believe that a husband and a wife got the day of the week wrong… They clearly said that the woman came to their house crying because Kathy was dead before her body was officially found on Sunday.
Also, for those of you that are really into this – when this is going down, the husband is in Afghanistan, but he’s on his way back… I believe that this guy was telling me the truth: the military investigator said to me and my husband [that] it looks like [Goodwin] knew my daughter was not going to be there the next month, because he stopped the allotment to her before she dies. That’s what he said. That’s what he thought.
Subsequent to her death, [Goodwin]’s on a plane coming home and he’s having a conversation with the mistress about the life insurance. We never knew about the life insurance, but the mistress and him were planning on how they were gonna spend that money on the phone on the plane when he’s coming home from Afghanistan. This is the same mistress that violated a direct order to stay away from the husband, at least over 60 times, and was charged with making false statements to [military investigators] on May 7, 2012.
…Who do you hold accountable for the fact that Kathy’s death is still unsolved?
I hold the Anne Arundel County Police Department and their fumbling of this case totally responsible for this.
When I tie this back to even the military police – when Kathy died, the military police had immediately confiscated these individuals’ government-issued electronics. The military had charged the mistress on Monday; Kathy died on Sunday, on Monday they were charging the mistress with making false statements in reference to Kathy’s death.
They had already charged them. The military could not get their personal electronics until the civilian police issued the subpoenas. The civilian police told them they didn’t need anything and they never issued the subpoenas on these people, because the Anne Arundel County Police were mistakenly going by “it was a suicide,” and they never did a true investigation of this.
So I hold the Anne Arundel County Police Department solely [responsible]; even right now, after the death certificate has been changed in 2021… they do not know where, they do not know when, and they do not know by what manner Kathy died.
What you need to remember is that the manner and cause of death are two different things. We know she died from carbon monoxide toxicity, that’s the cause. The manner, which they don’t know, is how it got into her system.
So if you don’t know when, where, or the manner, it seems like, to me, it would be an unsolved case. And in 2022, 2023, the Anne Arundel County Police Department has suddenly decided that they are not going to list this case as unsolved. I believe that is problematic. It is their continuing to be unaccountable for the devastation, the wreckage, what they caused in this case… all these unanswered questions about how, when, and where…
And we know that police departments across the country are notorious for doing this, of seeing one manner of death that they think is correct, and then ignoring all other evidence to the contrary. You only have to watch a couple episodes of Unsolved Mysteries to find that.
What happened after Kathy’s death with those closest to her? How did her death impact those closest to her?
Well obviously, it really devastated so many people. Some just pulled back because it’s so painful. She had a best friend, her sisters, we haven’t heard from in quite a while.
It really devastated the community. I really believe so. Kathy was volunteering at one of the childcare centers and the kids loved her… she had so many videos of her and the kids. Even on her bad days, she was videotaping those kids and making jokes. I know they loved her so much. So you had all that devastation… Not to mention the devastation to family members.
Our lives were changed forever. She had a family that was deeply… she’s the youngest of six children with her older brothers and sisters. They were all deeply impacted, ‘cause she was that connecting light that everyone loved so much. Her grandparents, she was just like an angel that really, really, truly impacted the lives of so many people.
Even now, today. You know, for me, there are people that I still won’t go around because they take me to a place in time that I just don’t wanna deal with anymore. It wasn’t a negative thing with them, it’s just that they’re being around me takes me back to that space and I just choose not to go there with them. It’s the grief; grief is a long-term thing.
Let me say this, maybe it’ll help somebody: it may have been 10 or 11 years, but I still am in grief counseling for the [loss] of my loved ones; …possibly because of the fact that I’m having to relive it and redo it and still fighting for justice in their memories. It’s impacted people both [negatively] and those for good.
There are those that even cry out today that she didn’t do it or they saw something strange with her Facebook account during that time. There’s just so much.
That was one of the things too – these people had friended her on Facebook and one of her Facebook postings, she’s asking them, “Do I know you?” And then she doesn’t insist on finding out who they are. So they were kinda watching her for a while…
The soldier wasn’t quiet about this…. I believe that we could get national attention one day or something… It has impacted people, when I say from around the world, I have to still say that because there are people out there that this guy was verbal about what he was doing. But because it was ruled a suicide, you know… They may have something to say.
I think that this sticks in the memory of a lot of people nationally, ‘cause he was a soldier: Fort Bragg is a place where lots of people came through and this was one of those stories that you couldn’t forget.
I just had two more questions. You mentioned earlier about how you’ve spent this time since Kathy’s death fighting for justice, for knowledge, and for her manner of death to be changed – which you ultimately accomplished – but more importantly, just trying to get Kathy’s case solved. What has that journey been like this whole time for you and for the rest of Kathy’s family?
To me, there’s been a tendency, when little Black and Brown children die, to categorize them… Historically, their deaths don’t get the attention that their [white] counterparts get, and certain things are just assumed. I think that in the bigger picture, it shows an example of that.
I can’t speak a lot for other family members. I know that they stand with me, they’re proud of the accomplishments. They’re encouraged by it.
There are four cases that Kathy’s death has impacted… that perhaps will live on and maybe one day help somebody.
One of the cases, if anyone wants to take the time to look it up, is… Kathy Morris v. Isaac Goodwin. It’s a federal case. It was on appeal, but it had to do with voidable marriages in the state of Maryland. Voidable marriage, why that might help somebody, is because everybody, first of all, doesn’t want a divorce. This is my opinion, and don’t quote me anybody, but in cases of abuse where the abuser has contributed to a person dying… they may not be charged with a crime, but he still has control and access to certain things by law. This voidable thing is a tool that could possibly be used to eliminate that control. That was a goal of it.
The reason I didn’t win that case, even though the judge said that it was voidable, was because I lacked standing, because Kathy had talked about divorce, but had not initiated a divorce action before her death. [She didn’t initiate the divorce because he was out of the country.] But for somebody else looking for that hope in cases [of marital fraud]… Maryland had no laws about voidable marriages based on fraud. This is an example that might… help somebody [else].
Then there’s House Bill 934, which closed [a] loophole that the state of Maryland could arbitrarily use to deny people appeals – that [18-year-old] loophole was closed.
Then there’s House Bill 863, that gives people more time to appeal a manner of death. Marylanders had 60 days to appeal the manner of death, now they have 180 days or six months to appeal the manner of death.
Then of course there’s my hearing, which right now I hope will help people like the family of Keith Warren. For more details see the Keith Warren death investigation. But the fact that we won in a five day hearing against the state of Maryland to have [Kathy’s] death certificate corrected, that this will help or be an example for other families to use in getting theirs overturned as well.
So those are the ways that it’s impacted a community; and we’re trying to find [more] ways. It makes me feel better when doing something that… is going to help somebody else in her memory, because we want our loved ones to live on through others.
I think Delegate [Joseline Peña-] Melnyk or Delegate [Sandy] Bartlett, one of ’em said recently in a For Kathy’s Sake event, 7th annual, that a person doesn’t die because of death, they die when their names are no longer spoken. That is why it’s important to keep their names alive… so that their memory, their legacy, lives on. That’s what we want for our loved ones.
Awesome, thank you. We’re actually gonna hear from Sherri Warren, who’s Keith Warren’s sister. We have a talk lined up for the two of us to talk about Keith.
The final question that I had, and you’ve sort of touched on this, but just to put a pin in it: how do you think Kathy’s story fits into the broader story of our current human experience? What larger story does Kathy’s story help to tell?
Wow. To me, there’s been a tendency, when little Black and Brown children die, to categorize them… Historically, their deaths don’t get the attention that their [white] counterparts get, and certain things are just assumed.
I think that in the bigger picture, it shows an example of that. It shows an example of when they make those assumptions, and there’s a tremendous resistance to accountability for past wrongs, and how that can continue to affect us now.
What is it in the Blue Force that will not allow you in some instances… to own mistakes so that we can go forth as a healthy and whole society? As long as we continue to suppress, it really reflects the lack of true accountability at no matter what the cost. You have to wonder what is embedded in not doing that? Even if it was reflective on someone years ago that did wrong, if we were to right it now it would be the right thing to do.
So as a society, we need to just start being accountable. If we look back into when they were occurring, they had to do with race. I tell people, and this is kind of harsh, that the reality of our life is this, in certain circles, in any circle, if you don’t like an “n”, you don’t like anything about them…
Hatred takes on many forms. Hatred is continuous, and it doesn’t go away. It just breaks out in different places in our society.
This case is an example of how that is. It links to other places in our society where it exists. I don’t know what the answer is, but there’s gotta be that accountability going forward in our society. It’s gotta come from someplace to help other people.
…That’s the last question. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about Kathy and tell Kathy’s story. And on behalf of March on Foundation in general, we’re really sorry for your loss. I know it was a long time ago, but we’re always thinking of Kathy and we hope that this will be a small way for Kathy to live on. And we’re always here for Kathy.
If you missed Part 1, read it here to learn about Kathy’s life and the circumstances of her death.
See news articles on Kathy’s death and Rev. Morris’ fight for justice:
August 10, 2015: “NAACP seeks federal probe of 2012 death in Hanover“