Family On The Run
A handsome, married young father and former deputy sheriff, Gabriel Morris looked like the picture of respectability. When his mother and her boyfriend were found brutally murdered in their pleasant Oregon seaside home, authorities were shocked to find a trail leading to him. Soon, police in several states were caught up in a riveting chase as Gabriel, with family in tow, went on a cross-country crime spree. No one knew if his wife, Jessica, was a victim or accomplice; or if his four-year-old daughter was in jeopardy. In a gracious Virginia suburb, a SWAT team swooped down on the renegade family and ended their wild, dangerous ride. What followed was even more shocking, as the story of how Gabriel Morris ended up on the wrong side of the law took investigators on a dark journey into the heart of a killer. . .
Includes 16 pages of dramatic photos.
Praise for Robert Scott
"Compelling and shocking. . .a ground-breaking book." --Robert K. Tanenbaum on Shattered Innocence
"Scott grabs the reader's attention." --Reviewing the Evidence
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KILL THE ONES YOU LOVE
By Robert Scott
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 Robert Scott
All rights reserved.
Coos County, Oregon—February 7, 2010
It was Super Bowl Sunday and millions of Americans all around the nation were gathered in front of their television sets. A party atmosphere pervaded in many of those homes, replete with snacks and refreshments. It was no exception at a home in Coquille, Oregon, on that Sunday. Coquille is a town situated along the banks of the Coquille River, in an area of forest and farmland not far from the Oregon coast.
Sixty-two-year-old Robin Anstey and her boyfriend, forty-eight-year-old Robert Kennelly, who generally went by the name "Bob," were at a friend's house for a Super Bowl party. As luck would have it, Robin, Bob and their friend were in for a great game. The New Orleans Saints, which had been terrible for most of their forty-two years in the franchise, were on a red-hot streak now. They were playing one of the best teams of the past few years—the Indianapolis Colts. The quarterback for Indianapolis, Peyton Manning, was one of the decade's greatest quarterbacks, but now Manning was being challenged by his up-and-coming New Orleans rival, Drew Brees.
Right from the start, it was an exciting and entertaining game, and Robin Anstey should have been riveted by the gridiron showdown, like millions of other football fans were. That was not the case, however. Robin was afraid, and the person she was afraid of was her thirty-three-year-old son, Gabriel.
Gabriel Morris, commonly known as "Gabe," could be friendly, gregarious and charming. He was definitely intelligent and had even been a deputy sheriff for a while up in Idaho. Married to thirty-three-year-old Jessica Morris, they had a cute four-year-old daughter named Kalea. The family appeared to be an advertiser's dream of what a nice young family should look like.
But for the past few months, Gabe had become more and more erratic in his behavior. Gabe's comments to his mother's live-in boyfriend, Bob, were especially caustic. Gabe even began talking back to his mother in an angry and disrespectful tone. To make matters worse, Gabe was having serious financial problems, which only fueled his anger. Robin had originally encouraged Gabe and his family to move to Bandon, Oregon, where she and Bob lived, so he could try and make a clean start. Now she wondered if that had been such a good idea.
Partway through the Super Bowl game, Robin's friend Sam Haroldson (pseudonym) who was hosting the party received a phone call from Gabe, asking to speak to his mother. Sam handed the receiver to Robin, and he could see her becoming more and more upset as the conversation continued. Sam even heard Robin say, "No, we've made plans here! We're going to have to cancel dinner with you. We can have this conversation later!"
When she hung up the phone, Robin turned to Sam and said in a distressed voice that Gabe was being very, very difficult. She added that he was angry a lot and took out his anger on her and Bob. And then Robin added one more chilling sentence: "I'm afraid to go home tonight."
Sam was alarmed by this comment and told Robin, "Stay here tonight. We've just changed the sheets in the guest bedroom."
Robin just shook her head and replied, "No, we have to go home and take care of this."
The Saints went on to win the game in an exciting fashion, but there was now a dark cloud hanging over the household. It was nearly midnight when Robin and Bob said their good-byes and exited the door, getting ready to face whatever task lay before them, as far as Gabe was concerned. After they left, a thought passed through Sam's mind, one that he would express out loud later: "The look on Robin's face—you don't see a mother afraid of her child like that. It's not normal."
Robin Anstey had every right to be afraid. By the evening of Super Bowl Sunday, Gabe was fuming with anger. On a long road trip back toward Bandon, from Southern California, he'd become more agitated as the day went on. He was putting the blame for his string of bad luck on many areas, and one of the areas where he squarely placed fault was on his mom and her boyfriend. The one place, however, where he didn't seem to lay any blame for his various misfortunes was on himself.
Gabe was the product of a broken home. When he was age ten, his mother and his father, Danny Morris, were divorced. And it had been a very messy divorce, with Danny constantly filling Gabe's head with lies about his mom. Danny did everything he could to blacken Robin's name, even saying she was a drug addict, which was not true.
At least this bad-mouthing was mitigated by Gabe's older half brother, Jesse McCoy, Robin's son by a previous marriage. Gabe liked Jesse a lot; and Jesse, in turn, was always a proponent of his mom's good qualities. In time, Gabe began to see things Jesse's way as well, and once again was on good terms with his mother. It seemed that whatever poisonous feelings he might have had toward her was a thing of the past.
By early 2010, however, all of those good feelings about his mom had evaporated. And to make matters worse, Gabe truly disliked his mother's new boyfriend, Bob Kennelly, although Bob didn't deserve Gabe's ire. Bob was a lot younger than Gabe's mom; he was fourteen years her junior. Right from the beginning, Gabe and Bob rubbed each other the wrong way. Gabe thought that Bob didn't treat his mother well, although there was nothing in reality to back that up. Bob thought that Gabe was nothing more than a freeloading, stoned loser. Gabe just sat around the house all day while his wife went out and earned a paycheck.
There had been a lot of water beneath the bridge in Gabe's life by that point, and most of it had been turbulent. Despite being intelligent and resourceful, he had made one bad decision after another. He had also seen one goal after another collapse in failure: dreams of being a jet fighter pilot, detective in a sheriff's office, Alaskan bush pilot. They had all failed. Searching for scapegoats, Gabe literally looked no further than his mom and Bob.
Gabe's delusions about his mom grew until he imagined that she had never understood him and, in essence, had abandoned him as a child. None of that was true, but in Gabe's mind those powerful images stuck. He began to imagine that his mother was deceitful and relished his misery. It also made him angry that she would not accept the wild claims he now made about himself.
Gabe had always thought of himself as special, but now he truly believed he had special powers—abilities that God had given only to him. He said that he could run through the forest at night blindfolded and hear God's voice and see God's face.
God told him where all of the tree trunks and roots were. Things that applied to lesser mortals no longer applied to him. These fantastic remarks so frightened Robin that she told Gabe he needed psychiatric help. This only made Gabe more angry. He didn't believe he was mentally ill. He believed he was one of God's chosen, and nearly a superhero by that point.
Whatever blowup Gabe had with his mother and Bob that night was not later recorded. Gabe's actions of the preceding week were, however. He was so upset that he had told Jessica to grab a few items and Kalea, and they took off on an erratic journey up and down the West Coast. It started out in Medford, Oregon; then they bounced northward from Portland and Seattle, then back down south to San Diego, California, in a very short space of time. Gabe was searching for friends who would give him money and also would believe in his wild claims. He was also seeking refuge from his thoughts and schemes, which were driving him onward in a manic manner. At the end of the week, he had gathered neither; he was angrier than ever. Someone was going to have to pay, and Gabe was more angry at his mom and Bob than anyone else in the world.
All morning long on February 8, 2010, Gabe Morris hid in bushes and trees and watched the residence where his mom lived. She was living with Bob Kennelly in a beautiful home up on a ridge overlooking the Coquille River Valley. When Gabe saw Robin and Bob leave for the day, he sneaked into the house and made sure that no one else was there. Then he escorted Jessica and Kalea into the home to take a shower and get some rest.
Meanwhile, Gabe paced up and down, stewing about all of his misfortunes. He also scavenged through the house for things of value. One thing he found was a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, which belonged to Bob. Gabe stuck the gun in his jacket pocket and pondered his next move. While he pondered what he was going to do, Jessica and Kalea were so tired, they went upstairs and fell asleep on a bed.
Shortly after 8:00 P.M., on February 8, 2010, Robin and Bob arrived home and parked in the driveway. Suspecting nothing amiss, they walked to the front door and entered the living room. They took a few steps into the interior of the house and were met by an astonishing sight. Gabe was on an upstairs balcony, which overlooked the living room. He was primed and ready, with a gun in his hand.
Robin and Bob started running toward the front door just as the semiautomatic pistol erupted with one shot, then another and another. Bob collapsed in the interior of the house, already dying of his wounds. Robin managed to stagger outside onto the front deck. Gabe followed her. As she crawled toward the driveway, Gabe came up alongside her. Then he lowered the barrel of the pistol; without a word, he sent a bullet into his mother's brain. He gazed down upon what he had done—as if he hadn't just killed his mother, but had dispatched a complete stranger.
In the bedroom, Jessica heard some loud noises coming from the front of the house. She stirred restlessly in bed, until Gabe unexpectedly burst into the room and told her in an agitated voice that they had to leave immediately.
Shaken and confused, Jessica did as she was told, awakened daughter Kalea and made a dash for the door. Jessica and Kalea were in their pajamas and Kalea wasn't wearing any shoes. In fact, even Gabe was not wearing any shoes. Jessica had no idea where they were going or why; but as soon as Gabe hustled her and Kalea out the front door and into Bob's pickup truck, all questions about "why" disappeared. Jessica looked down in amazement at the dead bodies of Robin and Bob.
Gabe started the pickup truck and hurtled down the driveway at breakneck speed. He nearly flipped the vehicle over a couple of times and careened off a steep, wooded bank at one point. Once he reached the highway, Gabe sped off into the blackness of night under the sheltering trees. But before he left the area completely, he had one more task to perform.
It was already a strange story, and it was about to get much stranger. On February 9, 2010, the Coos County District Attorney's Office got a phone call from Fred Eschler, who lived in Coquille. District Attorney R. Paul Frasier personally knew Fred, but Frasier was not in his office at the time, and did not receive the information that day. Fred Eschler conveyed to one of the staff at the DA's office that on the evening of Monday, February 8, he had been contacted at home by a person claiming to be involved in counterterrorism activities with the U.S. government.
Fred did not identify this individual at the time, but he did say that the person had come by his home and asked for help. The reason this person needed help was that supposedly he had been working undercover and had been involved with some recent homicides in the Bandon area. This person claimed that he'd infiltrated a terrorist cell in the area, and had barely escaped with his life. He had killed one of the terrorists; but, unfortunately, two other innocent bystanders in the area had been killed by the terrorist group. Since Fred had known this individual over the years, knew that he had been a law enforcement officer and trusted him, he had helped him by lending him a vehicle, a gun and some other items.
When DA Frasier finally got the news from his staff, he was unaware of anyone being murdered in the Bandon area in the previous week. He had his staff contact Fred Eschler to get more information. Since this might involve the federal government, a DA staff member told Eschler to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) directly. During this phone conversation, Fred told the staff member that he was very concerned about the individual in question, and he had provided that person with a gun and a vehicle. The individual in question had said that he had to get out of the area—not only for his own safety, but that of his family as well.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to DA Frasier or anyone in his office, ever since February 5, Coos County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) sergeant Dave Hermann had been working on a potential missing person's case involving a female named Jessica Morris. Hermann had received a "concern call" from the Women's Safety & Resource Center in the area. Jessica Morris was a volunteer there and they had not heard from her since very late in January. Jessica was a reliable person, and never before had she acted in this manner. She was also in charge of a fund-raiser, to be held on the day before the Super Bowl, which was supposed to raise money for the center. Jessica had not done this, and nothing had occurred in that regard.
Sergeant Hermann went to the women's center and learned that Jessica worked at Bandon Bookkeeping. That was Sergeant Hermann's next stop, where he spoke with Mary Ann Donaldson. Donaldson told Sergeant Hermann that Jessica had been employed at Bandon Bookkeeping for the previous two months, but the last time she came to work was on January 28. Jessica had mentioned something to the effect that things were not going well in her household, and that their finances were in trouble. After that, Jessica had not returned to work at all, nor had she picked up her last paycheck. Not unlike the people at the Women's Safety & Resource Center, Mary Ann also spoke of Jessica as a reliable person, who had performed her tasks well and was liked by others there.
Donaldson told Sergeant Hermann that Jessica was married to Gabriel Morris, and added that Gabriel's mother was Robin Anstey. In fact, according to Donaldson, Jessica, Gabriel and their daughter, Kalea, were living with Gabriel's mother in a home off Highway 42 South. Donaldson said that she had once driven Jessica home, when Jessica didn't have a ride, and she was not sure of the exact address on the highway. She did give Sergeant Hermann some directions and he was finally able to determine that it was at a location on Flower Hill along Highway 42 South.
Sergeant Hermann went out to the house, but no one was home at the time. He did notice some boxed-up items there, as if someone was getting ready to move. Hermann took off and planned to go out to the place in about a week, to check on matters once again.
Looking further into the situation, Sergeant Hermann learned that Jessica's father was a gentleman named William "Bill" Pope, of Blackfoot, Idaho. Hermann had wondered if Jessica might have shown up there in the previous week. Hermann phoned the Popes; during the conversation, Bill Pope told Hermann something very interesting. He said that before Jessica married Gabriel Morris, she had $100,000 in the bank from a settlement she received from a very bad sledding accident in that state. This had happened when Jessica was thirteen years old. Bill said that once Jessica married Gabriel, they went through that money very quickly. He was sure that Gabriel was the reason why. According to Pope, Gabriel always had some grand scheme going, but none had succeeded.
In an irate voice, Bill Pope added that in the not-too-distant past, Gabriel had cheated on Jessica, having an affair with a woman in Pocatello, Idaho. Gabriel and Jessica split up for a short while; but after the affair ended, Jessica took Gabriel back. Plus, Jessica's father said, he was absolutely stunned when the woman in Idaho, with whom Gabriel had been having the affair, called him and said that she wanted to find out where Gabriel was. She said she intended to sue Gabe for using her credit cards without her permission and running up huge balances on those accounts.
Bill told Sergeant Hermann it was he who had told Gabriel and Jessica to return to Coos County, Oregon, because Gabriel was from there. Once they were there, Bill suggested, they should declare bankruptcy and try to get their finances in order while staying in Bandon with Gabe's mom and her boyfriend, Bob. In fact, Bill said that he had given them $7,000 to move to Coos County from Idaho so they could have a fresh start. He had loaned them a small red pickup truck as well. The pickup truck did not run well, but it was better than nothing, since Gabe didn't even have any vehicles anymore. They had been repossessed.
Excerpted from KILL THE ONES YOU LOVE by Robert Scott. Copyright © 2013 Robert Scott. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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