Search for N.C. mom continues

December 20, 2008 Kelly Currin Morris, 28, was last seen on the night of Sept. 3, but she wasn't reported missing until the next day, when emergency workers responded to a blaze that destroyed the house she shared with her husband and two young daughters. The house was empty at the time.

Police have named her husband of about six years, William "Scott" Morris, a person of interest in the case.

Juanita Currin, Kelly Morris' stepmother, said she and her husband's greatest wish is "to find her and be able to lay her to rest. For her children to be able to know the truth."

And, she said, "for justice to be served."

According to search warrants, Scott Morris, 34, told police that he last saw his wife around 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 3, when she left the house to search for a dog that had gotten loose.

Scott Morris told police that he took a shower and went to bed in a room separate from his wife's because he didn't want her to wake him up when she returned. But, according to the warrants, family and friends told police that the two, who had been having marital problems, had been sleeping separately before that night.

Pat Currin, Kelly Morris' father, said everyone knew the two were having problems -- his daughter even moved back home with her daughters for a few weeks last summer -- but that he never thought anything like this would happen.

But Juanita Currin stopped short of blaming Scott Morris for the disappearance, saying she preferred not to comment when asked if she thought he was responsible.

Scott Morris could not be reached for comment and messages left at a number for his parents' home -- where the search warrants indicated he was living -- were not returned. A number for his towing service was disconnected.

Conflicting Information

Though Scott Morris told investigators he had gone to bed after his wife left to look for the dog, the search warrant details a series of phone calls between him and his father, James "Jimmy" Morris.

Jimmy Morris told police, according to the warrants, that his son called him around 10 p.m. on Sept. 3 to ask him to be with the children while Scott Morris went to look for his wife, who he believed was cheating on him. The search warrants said Jimmy Morris did not mention the dog that Scott Morris told police about.

Cell phone records show that a phone call was made from Scott Morris' that bounced off a tower in a nearby town, suggesting to investigators that he was not at home at 10:59 p.m., in contrast to what he told police, warrants indicated.

According to the search warrants, time elements in Scott Morris' statements about the next morning -- that he met an acquaintance, went to a local Hardees and then to the BP station where he worked – did not match with video surveillance footage at the places he visited.

When he left the Hardees around 9:15 a.m. on Sept. 4, the search warrants said, surveillance video shows him heading toward his residence, not the direction he told police he took to get to the BP Station.

A 911 call was placed that morning at 11:19, reporting the Morris' home was on fire. The house was destroyed and the fire was later ruled to be caused by arson, according to the search warrants.

Kelly Morris' car was found later that afternoon, less than a mile away from the house. Inside were her cell phone, her purse and other personal belongings, according to the search warrants.

The search warrants indicated that Kelly Morris' daughters told police that the family's two dogs were in their crates in the house when they left for school. But, Juanita Currin said, they were found loose in a neighbor's yard during the fire, indicated they had left the house sometime that morning.

Police wanted to search Jimmy Morris' pick up truck; hair, blood and saliva samples from Scott Morris, his Chase Bank account records and his account records from, according to the search warrants.

'A Good Memory'

Granville County Sheriff's Office is handling the case, but Det. Bryant Strother said he was not authorized to release details about Kelly Morris' disappearance, the fire or the police investigation.

"Just about everything that can be done is being done," Strother said.

Juanita Currin described her stepdaughter, whom she raised from a small child, as modest and kind.

Pat Currin said his daughter "was just a good memory all around."

She had worked part-time at an apartment complex for the elderly and had taken a full-time job with Nationwide Insurance about a week before she disappeared.

"There's no indication she was abducted," Juanita Currin said. "She would not have left without her children."

Her eldest daughter from a previous relationship, 8, is now living with her father. The younger daughter, 5, is living with Scott Morris' parents.

Juanita Currin said he has seen Scott Morris since his wife's disappearance when returning his daughter from a visit and the relationship is cordial but "strained."

"They've asked where their mother is," she said of Kelly Morris' daughters. "We've told them that she's missing, we don't know where she is and we have people looking for her."

The Search Continues

This weekend searchers will once again fan out to comb the area for any sign of Kelly Morris.

Al Mignacci, a retired IBM worker who had never met the Currin family, has since signed on as the search coordinator, working out of a command center set up at Pat Currin's construction business.

"It seemed like the right thing to do. I had some time and they needed somebody to go out and start searching," he said.

When Kelly Morris first disappeared there were a couple of hundred searchers. Now the number has dwindled to about 20 dedicated volunteers.

The search goes on seven days a week, but people congregate on the weekends -- Sundays as of late so not interfere with hunting season -- to walk area roads and paths, comb the thick woods and search ponds and wells.

Both police and volunteers have searched by air and ground, using sonar, dogs and horses.

Mignacci said searchers ran across a gas can and a shirt a while back. Police took the can and the shirt, he said, and they haven't heard if the items might be related to Kelly Morris' disappearance.

Juanita Currin said that after three months of non-stop searching she has returned part-time to her job as director of surgical services at Duke Raleigh Hospital. Kelly Morris' brother, Carl Currin, has all but taken over their father's construction business while he focuses on the search.

"There is no ability to put normalcy in our life," Juanita Currin said.

The reward money for information leading to Kelly Morris' return has climbed to $36,000 -- $30,000 from Juanita and Pat Currin, $5,000 from the North Carolina governor and $1,000 from Crimestoppers.

Mignacci said he will stick with the search until Pat Currin gives up, "and I don't think he's going to give up."

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.