UPI, Dec. 27, 2002
TILLAMOOK, Ore., Dec. 27 (UPI) — A man described as a devoted family man and upstanding member of his church remained at large late Friday as preparations were finalized for a memorial service for his wife and three children, whom he allegedly murdered last weekend in a snowy Oregon forest.
A steady stream of tips placed Edward “Eddie” Morris, 37, of Portland, somewhere around the northern Washington city of Bellingham shortly before Christmas and raised the possibility he had slipped into Canada and was possibly headed north toward Alaska.
“Our tips are all in northern Washington,” Tillamook County Sheriff Todd Anderson told reporters Friday.
The FBI and law enforcement agencies along the West Coast have been on the lookout for Morris since last Saturday when elk hunters came upon the body of 31-year-old Renee Morris, who was pregnant, off a crude road in the Tillamook State Forest, several miles from the nearest highway. A search by Tillamook deputies turned up the bodies of the Morris’ three children: 10-year-old Bryant, 8-year-old Alexis and 4-year-old Jonathan.
A family spokesman told Portland television station KATU that around 500 mourners were expected at a memorial for Mrs. Morris and her three children on Saturday at St. John’s Christian Church.
Neither Morris’ body nor the family’s 1993 gray Dodge Caravan was located during an intensive search of the forest. Tillamook County prosecutors this week filed murder charges against Morris while federal authorities charged him with interstate flight to avoid prosecution.
Friends and relatives described the Morris family as seemingly close and active in their church. Police said the missing van bore bumper stickers reading “Promise Keepers” and “Luis Palau,” a local evangelist.
Further investigation revealed that Morris might have been vexed by money problems. A roofer by trade, Morris and his wife had declared bankruptcy a few years ago after his contracting business failed, although Morris had reportedly started a new venture with a partner in recent months.
Family members told The Oregonian that while Edward worked, Renee Morris took the commanding role in the household and home schooled her three children.
“Everything was based on her Christian faith,” said Paul Morris, Edward’s father. “She wanted to be in charge of how her family was schooled and raised. Eddie wanted to work for himself and build a business where he would have no one to answer to. … He just hadn’t found the right connection.”