Friday, November 6, 2009
Georgia Tech Student Mystery-What Happened to Joseph Morse?
I have been doing a bit more research on missing persons in Georgia. There are quite a few. One of my readers has sent me information on a missing person from Douglas County from several decades ago, and I am doing some research on that one now. But not long ago, in a webpage where I had been looking at a theory about what happened to Tara Grinstead, I spotted something that caught my eye. It was about a young college student from Ohio who had enrolled and completed a year of classes at Georgia Tech, but disappeared in the spring of 2000.
His name is Joseph Morse. He was from Cincinnati, Ohio and had checked out Georgia Tech with his family back in the spring of 1999 and fell in love with the school. He enrolled as a civil engineering major in the fall of that year. Later, he would change his major to mechanical engineering, but sadly enough, he would never graduate from the school.
Joe, as he was called, was an ideal student. He was a graduate of Moeller High School in the Cincinnati area, graduating 23 out of a class of 203. He ran track, had lots of friends, made good grades, and devoted some of his spare time to charitable and civic events and organizations. Anyone would be proud to have had him as a son. Georgia Teach really appealed to him because he wanted to be in an urban environment like Atlanta with good weather. It was gravy that the school had such a good national reputation in engineering. Originally, Joe had set his sights on schools like MIT and Stanford. Georgia Tech was lucky to have him. Once he arrived at Tech, he was placed in the Towers Dormitory. He even became the president of his hall council at Towers, and he even ended the fall semester with a 3.4 GPA. He was well on his way to becoming a successful student, and then, a successful engineer.
He came home over the Christmas holidays, and his family reported nothing weird. He was just Joe, they said. Once back at school at Tech for the spring semester, he changed his major to civil engineering. He even was able to land a co-op job with the Caterpillar company at a location in Illinois for the coming fall semester, which meant that he would have to take classes in the summer and stay in the dorms there during that time so he would not get behind in his studies since the co-op position would mean he would not be able to take classes that fall while working at Caterpillar. That Easter, he was able to come home, and once again, his parents said nothing was out of the ordinary. He did seem to sleep alot that weekend, but that was nothing alarming to his folks, as they thought it was normal behavior for a college student.
But things had started falling apart for Joe that spring semester at Tech, and noone understands why. First, his grades began to plummet. He did okay in his engineering classes, but he all but stopped coming to his English class and his grades reflected that. His grades in his other classes began to slip as well. He even began to call home more often. His parents said that he phoned frequently, and it was pretty obvious that he was eager to get back home at the end of the semester. His arrangements were to leave his stuff in the dorm at the end of the semester, go home for a week break, and then return to Atlanta to take summer courses at Tech before going to Peoria, Illinois in the fall for the co-op job. To do this, he would have to enroll in summer classes and make arrangements to live in the dorm during the summer. After Joe's disappearance, his parents found out from the school that he had never even attempted to register for summer classes, and that he had not applied at all for housing in the dorms for the summer. This was very unlike Joe, for he was always quite diligent about taking care of his school business. Once more, his grades were nowhere near what they had been in the fall. All of this seemed to be out of character for Joe.
On May 6, 2000, Joe was to fly home to Cincinnati where his mom was waiting for him at the Dayton International Airport. He was flying standby, and if he was unable to get a flight, he would take a bus. That morning, his friends saw him leave the dorm room, go to the showers around 8:30 a.m., and nothing seemed unusual. One student commented that he was swinging his keychain around his finger like a coach normally does, and this was quite normal for Joe as well. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Keep in mind, all of the things mentioned above (falling grades, no arrangements for summer, and poor class attendance) were unbeknown to his family. They thought nothing was wrong. Apparently, Joe never made it to the airport that morning, but he did go to a local ATM at Lenox Square Mall and withdraw 120.00 out of his checking account. This was all he had in there. ATM cameras have him on camera doing this at 10:58 that morning. Those were the last images of Joseph Morse.
His mother waited for him at the airport, but he never arrived that day. She never heard from him by phone, and there was no email to her or other family members explaining the delay. But Joe was not on a plane or bus to Ohio that day. Joe never tried to come home that authorities are aware. The last place he was seen was at the ATM. Joe's parents began to contact the school, where they found that Joe never removed any of his clothes or belongings from his dorm room. He left his room with his glasses, wallet, and the clothes on his back, nothing more. He was wearing a plaid shirt and khaki Docker shorts. The ATM pictures show that he was wearing his glasses when he withdrew the money from the ATM. Parents and authorities circulated his picture and information about him around campus and the area, but noone had seen hair nor hide of him. It was as if Joseph Morse had just disappeared in thin air. His advisor reported that he had stopped answering his emails from him asking him to come meet with him about his classes and academic work. Joe seemed to let his school work slip severely during the spring semester. Campus police asked his friends and classmates about his behavior. They saw nothing strange. His roomate said that he would sleep in some mornings because as he left for classes, oftentimes, Joe would still be asleep in bed. But he did not see that as strange.
Noone seemed to know what happened to Joseph Morse. Then, four years later in 2004, a report circulated that police in Miami, Florida had discovered a body that had been dead since around May 7, 2000. The police were looking for the identity of a man they said broke in to a construction site, climbed a 187 foot crane and jumped. Some online researchers have said this was young Joseph Morse. One website even went so far as to say it was without a doubt Joseph Morse. That same site also said that according to Florida law, records on this body and cause of death would be sealed for 50 years, but that if one had a legal reason for inquiring, the records could be opened. It was also reported that Georgia Tech police had closed his file and that they had concluded the body was that of Joseph Morse.
Was the body they found in Miami, Florida in 2004 that of Joseph Morse? If so, why did he break in to a construction site and jump from a crane of almost 200 feet? What prompted him to stop attending class and let his school work go when it seemed to mean so much to him? Was he abducted and forced to do what he did? I would imagine that an abductor would find some easier way of disposing of a person. Climbing a huge crane like that is very odd in and of itself. Or was Joe planning something else and traveled to Miami for a different reason? Did he know someone down there? Was he suffering from something that made him temporarily delusional? Was this a trip he took with friends and they decided to mess around the construction site and crane for laughs as they were in Miami and when Joe fell, the rest got scared and fled? Noone has any clue how and when he arrived in Miami. If he died the next day after having been at Lenox Square at 10:58 a.m., then he must have left Atlanta for Miami sometime on the 6th or early in the morning on the 7th. But if the body was his, and he was there, how did he get there? When did he arrive? I have not read anything about the finding of the body from 2004 except what I have repeated here. Did the family find flight records or bus records showing he had traveled to Miami? This case is quite strange. If the body in Miami did not belong to him, then he is still out there, but noone knows where.