Sunday, November 23, 2008

Unsolved Murders: Tommy Morris

Law enforcement officials in the tri-county area currently list a backlog of 15 unsolved homicides. The oldest of these is the murder of Tommy Morris, a 35 year-old special education instructor from Lauderdale County.

On the evening of October 17, 1986, Tommy Morris forwarded his phone to a sister's home and left his apartment in the University District of Florence; he was never again seen alive. By the next day, his two sisters became concerned enough to report him missing to the Florence Police, who initially dismissed the family's fears.

Deciding to take matters into their own hands, family members found Morris' car three days later near the intersection of Natchez Trace Parkway and Waterloo Road. The car had been torched, and authorities called to the scene found Morris' body locked in the trunk.

Tommy Morris had taught at Lauderdale County High School before transferring to Wilson a short time before his death. Morris, who was generally considered someone with designer tastes, also worked at Shankey's and Caster-Knott in Regency Square Mall. The school teacher, known for his elaborate wardrobe and expensive dental work, had friends in both high and low circles--a situation that made the investigation into his personal life that much more difficult. It was even rumored at the time that authorities videotaped Morris' funeral, but all inquiries lead to dead ends.

Rich Thigpen, a former Rogersville resident who remembered Morris from Lauderdale County High School, speculated on the teacher's death. Writing in Prism Comics' online magazine, the openly gay Thigpen theorized that Morris' closeted lifestyle had contributed to his death. Whatever the motive, the murder was especially brutal and stood out to the detectives assigned to the case.

Charles Ford and Charles Perkins, Lauderdale County investigators, have since retired and handed the investigation over to Jr Witt. Since late 2005, Witt has received at least two new leads and still hopes to solve the mystery of Tommy Morris' death. Anyone with information concerning this crime should contact Witt at the Lauderdale County Sheriff's office.

What's up with this: Barring extremely good sales the last week of this month, Dillard's is set to lay off as many as 30% of its sales staff. It gives new meaning to "Black Friday."

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