Alma is a small town of about five thousand residents. It’s known for being the spinach capital of the world. The iconic cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man is the symbol of The Allen’s Canning Company “Popeye Spinach” brand.
Alma is about 20 miles west from the Oklahoma state border and about 20 miles north of the Arkansas River which winds through the state. I-40, the 2,555 mile stretch of interstate which moves west from Barstow, California, through Arizona, New Mexico, and the Texas panhandle will take one all the way through the state of Arkansas and into Memphis and ends in North Carolina. Portions of 1-40 pass directly through the town of Alma.
Highway 64 also runs east-west and stretches for 2,326 miles and was once the primary road used by travelers prior to the construction of I-40 still exists and goes through downtown Alma.
An hour north of Alma is the city of Fayetteville the home of the Arkansas Razorbacks and a popular destination for college sports fans. Prior to 1999 travelers coming in from I-40 would have had to take what was then recognized as one of the most dangerous highways in America—Highway 71. The highway twists through the Boston Mountains and small rural towns and beautiful picturesque scenic views of the Ozark Mountains.
In 1999, the Bobby Hopper Tunnel opened up I-540 (now designated as I-49), allowing travelers to bypass Highway 71 to travel to Fayetteville, originating at its southern point just a couple miles west of Alma.
Thousands of travelers moving along I-40 will pass through Alma daily, never stopping as they move through Arkansas to Oklahoma or vice versa or make their way to I-49 heading north to Fayetteville or Missouri.
If one does stop, they do so perhaps because they need fuel or food. Some, however, who love roadside attractions will stop and take their picture with the giant bronze statue of Popeye erected in 2007 at the “Popeye Gardens about 4 blocks south of Hwy 64 in historic downtown Alma on Fayetteville Avenue.
Most of those visitors will take their photos to upload on social media and leave soon after never realizing that less than a block west from the statue is the site of a crime that has haunted Alma and the State of Arkansas since June 1995. Those that do stop and remember the crime, may not realize that as they pose in front of the statue, in what was a ballpark and now a parking lot, just over their shoulder and a stone’s throw away is where a beautiful six year old Morgan Nick was abducted by an unknown person and she has not been seen since, now 24 years later.
On Friday June 9, 1995 in the small town of Alma, Arkansas, families and friends enjoyed an evening watching their kids playing one of America’s favorite past times—a Little League baseball game.
Several people were in attendance, and amongst those were Colleen Nick and her six-year old daughter Morgan. The two had been invited to attend the game that evening and had driven from their home in Ozark, Arkansas, about thirty minutes east to the Alma ballpark.
Around 1030PM, a restless Morgan, begged her mother to leave the stands and go out into the parking lot with friends and chase after lightning bugs. Although, Colleen was reluctant, she eventually relented. Besides, from where she was sitting, Colleen could see her daughter as she played by the clothes she was wearing—a green Girl Scouts t-shirt and white tennis shoes.
Fifteen minutes later, however, the baseball game ending, Morgan’s friends returned, but Morgan did not. The friends informed Colleen that they had last seen Morgan near her mother’s Nissan Stanza removing sand from her shoes near a man with a red pickup truck and white camper shell.
After searching the parking lot and finding no sign of Morgan or the man with the red truck, local law enforcement were contacted. Local police arrived within six minutes after receiving the call and given the description of Morgan as being 4 foot tall, 55 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes.
Other witnesses came forward and confirm the eyewitness accounts of the children who had been playing with Morgan and described the suspect as being a white male, between the ages of 23-38 and spoke with “hillbilly” accent. They stated he was around 180lbs, medium build, about 6’ tall with slick backed salt and pepper hair, moustache and one-inch thick beard.
They also described the truck as a red Ford, low wheelbase, with paint that seemed to have dulled due to age. The truck had a white camper shell over the bed of the truck, but noticed the shell was shorter than the bed. Over the windows of the shell were curtains. Lastly, it was noticed there was damage on the rear passenger side of the vehicle.
Police began searching for the red pickup and hoped to find Morgan Nick, but had no luck finding her or the vehicle. More disturbing is police learned the same evening when Morgan was abducted, a mother witnessed an unknown male driving a red truck in Alma attempting to lure her 4 year old daughter into his vehicle. The following day, June 10th, another report came into law enforcement from fifteen miles away about another attempted abduction of a 9 year old girl in Fort Smith, Arkansas. According to the witnesses the man matched the description of Morgan’s abductor.
Local, county, and state police, as well as federal agencies such as the FBI and the US Marshals converged on the small town of Alma to begin the investigation and follow up on leads, to which there were several thousand. Fliers were made with pictures of Morgan, and the case made national news as the media, law enforcement, and volunteers, canvassed the area, and tracked leads that led nowhere and soon the days turned to weeks, and weeks into months and months into years, and the case went cold.
The ballpark would soon be torn down and turned into a parking lot. Morgan’s mother Colleen started the Morgan Nick Foundation that is headquartered in Alma a few blocks from where her daughter was abducted. The foundation “provides a support network to parents and families of all missing children focusing on: Intervention, Education, and Legislation.”
Colleen Nick has become a well-respected advocate for victims, while she too still searches for her own daughter 24 years later, never losing hope that Morgan will be found alive.
Over the last 24 years Law Enforcement insists the case is active and still receive tips, and have over the years investigated promising leads. In 2002, police were alerted to a possible burial location of Morgan in the small town of Booneville Arkansas 58 miles southeast from Alma. Searchers dug for a few hours and found nothing.
In December 2018 investigators revisited a home they first searched in 2010 that had once belonged to a convicted child molester having learned from a tipster that Morgan may have been buried in the backyard or in the well at a residence in Spiro, Oklahoma. Spiro is 35 minutes south west from Alma. Investigators searched the property but found nothing and discontinued their search efforts.
Utilizing the Modified Schrodinger’s Cat Thought Experiment Methodology Model (MSCTEM) To Re-examine the Abduction of Morgan Nick:
The MCSTEM has been created to examine cases that have gone cold, have little or no evidence left behind by a suspect and attempt to create a forensic triad through deductive reasoning by utilizing forensic tools from analyzing psychological criminal profiles, examining the Victimology, the geography, by formulating hypothesis based on the known facts of the case to arrive at a functional operational theory to aid in identifying a suspect; locating the missing person (alive or deceased), if deceased create a grid system to be searched for a disposal site of a deceased person, and aiding in identifying deceased victims who have been discovered but have not been identified through forensic technology.
The MSCTEM is based off of Erwin Schrodinger’s Thought Experiment in which he posed a scenario involving a “hypothetical” situation in which a cat is locked inside a box with a small amount of radiation inside the box; Schrodinger opined that the experimenter has no way of knowing before opening the box if the cat is still alive or has died due to the release of the radiation. Thus, he postulated that the cat just prior to the box being opened was in two states at the same time: dead and alive, and only until after the box is opened will the experimenter know for fact whether the cat is alive or dead. Schrodinger used this thought experiment to explain the tribulations scientist face in regards to Quantum Mechanics.
The MCSTEM utilizes this thought experiment to better understand criminal psychology, missing person’s cases, unsolved cases, and unidentified person’s cases. For example, the MCSTEM not only questions whether the “cat” is alive or dead, it also suggests the “cat” may not be in the box, and thus, the box may hold all the answers as to why the “cat” is alive, dead, or missing; furthermore, the MCSTEM infers that the “box” containing the evidence is also missing, and in order to complete the forensic triad of connecting the victim to the suspect and both to the crime scene one has to locate the “box” where in many cases the victim or suspect(s) have possession of the “box”.
In order to complete the forensic triad when there is little or no forensic evidence left behind, no body, or no identification of a body, the MCSTEM establishes a deductive reasoning based profile on the suspect(s) and victims to attempt to construct a psychological profile of the suspect(s), to create waypoints to locate a missing person (in most cases disposal areas) or a profile of the unidentified person by using methods and protocols established by the FBI, and Forensic Investigators, who have studied multiple disciplines in their respective fields.
The Abduction of Morgan Nick:
Morgan Nick at Time of Abduction: 6 years old; 4’11’’, 55lbs; 5 visible silver caps on her molars; green Girl Scout T-shirt, blue denim shorts and white tennis shoes
Date: Friday June 9th 1995
Time: Approx 10:45PM
Location: Alma, Arkansas; Little League Ballpark at the intersection of Walnut, Hendricks and Main Street. (Ballpark demolished, parking lot constructed after 1995)
Primary Suspects: N/A
Eyewitness Description of Possible Suspect: White Caucasian Male; 23-38 years of age; 6’0”; slicked back Salt and Pepper hair; mustache; 1” thick beard; spoke in a “Hillbilly” Accent.
Eyewitness Description of Possible Suspect Vehicle: Year model Unknown (UK) Ford, low wheel-base truck; faded red paint; white camper shell with curtains affixed on the windows (Camper Shell a few inches short of the bed of the truck) Damage to the rear passenger side; Possible Arkansas License Plate (UK)
Alleged Attempted Abductions by the Possible Suspect: Evening of June 9th, Alma Arkansas, a few hours before Morgan Nick was abducted, a mother claims a man resembling the composite sketch of Nick’s abductor attempted to abduct her 4 year-old daughter but she was able to prevent the abduction
June 10th, a day after Nick’s abduction, a 9 year old female was approached by a man matching Nick’s abductor at a gas station restroom in FT. Smith a few miles west of Alma, but again the attempted abduction was thwarted.
Investigation as of 2019: Although Law Enforcement continues to get leads, and have investigated a few promising leads over the last few years, the case is active, but the trail has gone cold.
It has been 24 years since Morgan Nick was abducted, and there have been no credible sightings, and she has not been found alive or deceased.
Morgan Nick would be 30 years of age as of 2019.
Known Facts about the Crime:
Morgan Nick was 6 years of age at the time of her abduction. She was from Ozark, Arkansas 20 miles East of Alma, and was attending a Little League baseball game in the center of the town of Alma, Arkansas with her mother.
There has been no evidence to date connecting Morgan Nick’s abductor to anyone she may have known.
Thus, this crime can be ruled as being “Opportunistic”.
The Speculative Crime Classification Code:
319.03 Abduction Rape of a Child
Per the Crime Classification Manual Classification Code 319.03 is defined as:
“In an abduction sexual offense, a person is moved forcibly from one location to another. The sexual assault occurs at the second location. Victims may be adult, adolescent, or child.
Abduction by nonfamily members is defined in the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrown-away Children (1989) as the coerced and unauthorized taking of a child into a building, a vehicle or a distance of more than 20 feet; the detention of a child for a period of more than one hour; or the luring of the child for the purpose of committing a crime. Included in this category are stereotypical kidnappings that require that the victim be missing overnight, be killed, be transported a distance of 50 miles or more, be ransomed, or that the perpetrator evidence an intent to keep the child permanently.”
In the abduction of Morgan Nick, the crime appears opportunistic and the suspect was not specifically targeting Nick personally. The crime is most likely sexually motivated, but what is unknown is if the suspect’s intent was to murder the victim or intended to keep the victim permanently.
Because the evidence in the abduction of Morgan Nick is sparse, one has to rely on eyewitness testimony and deductive reasoning to form an operational theory as to creating a profile of the suspect, and in so doing attempt to determine the suspects intent after abducting the victim.
Utilizing the MSCTEM, the suspect is in possession of the “box” and only the suspect knows the reasoning behind his crime, and his intent after committing the crime.
Even so, one can hypothesize three profile types:
- Serial Killer-Geographically Stable w/Hedonistic or Power/Control-Oriented Type Personality
- Serial Killer-Geographically Transient w/Hedonistic or Power/Control-Oriented Type Personality
- Sexual Offender/Suspect Typology Unknown
Examining crime statistics by analyzing data from the NCIC, UCR, and MAP, there is no indication of clusters of murders or missing person’s in the geographical areas in or near Alma, Arkansas. Thus, the outcome is a failure to reject the null hypothesis.
Examining the eyewitness accounts in regards to the alleged suspect in the abduction of Morgan Nick, because the means of transportation with the capacity to sleep in the bed of the vehicle, and no known sightings of the alleged suspect’s vehicle after the abduction, one cannot rule out the suspect is a geographically transient serial killer with hedonistic or power/control-oriented personality type. Thus hypothesis B will be accepted and will be labeled as Hypothesis 1B.
There are four sex offender typologies recognized by Law Enforcement:
- Power Reassurance Rapist
- Power Rapist (Power Assertive)
- Anger Rapist
- Sadistic Rapist/Ritualistic Rape
Because of the suspect’s predatory behaviorism exhibited by the alleged attempted abductions of at least two other juvenile females, and the known abduction of Morgan Nick, statistical data show 80.6% of child abductions by nonfamily members is sexually motivated. Therefore one can deduce that the suspect is a known/unknown sex offender and thus hypothesis C will be accepted and will be labeled as Hypothesis 2C.
Hypothesis 1B (H1B)
H1B surmises that the suspect in the abduction of Morgan Nick is a geographically transient serial killer with hedonistic or power/control-oriented type personality.
This report bases H1B in part on the means of transportation utilized by the suspect as alleged by eyewitnesses at the scene of Morgan Nick’s abduction is indicative of a suspect who is transient in nature and travels often utilizing the bed of the vehicle covered by a camper shell to sleep. H1B is also based on the lack of leads in regards to the suspect after the abductions and opines this may be because the suspect left the state of Arkansas immediately after the abduction.
Because of the suspect’s transient nature his crimes will be difficult for law enforcement to detect his movements throughout the United States.
The suspect in H1B is between the ages of 35-45 years of age, avid hunter and outdoorsman who prefers to be isolated and being outdoors.
The suspect may be a skilled laborer in construction type work, and finds work in his field that affords him the means to afford transportation allowing him to travel, where upon arrival he will look for and accept menial jobs, being paid under the table.
The suspect does not target victims according to a particular look, but according to their age and prefers Caucasian females between the ages of five and twelve.
The suspect does not covet his victims and will most likely murder and dispose of the victim within thirty minutes to an hour after abduction, and his method of murder is strangulation. It cannot be ruled out that after the suspect strangles the victim he does not mutilate his victims.
The suspect commits his crimes when the job has ended or once he has enough money to leave the area.
The suspect prefers small urban towns versus rural areas or large urban areas. He most likely prefers towns bordering rural areas that provide opportunities to hunt and fish and camp for short periods. The suspect will familiarize himself with campgrounds and state parks and most likely disposes his victims at these locations across the country before leaving the state or the area for another location.
The suspect may in fact crisscross the country returning back to a state after a period of time to revisit the crime scene and the disposal site of his victims.
The suspect is of average intelligence, most likely “street smart” versus “book smart” and is skilled in bartering.
If still alive, the suspect may now be in his late 50’s early 60’s and may still be active or has been incarcerated for unrelated crimes.
Hypothesis 2C (H2C):
H2C theorizes the suspect is a known/unknown sexual offender. It is more likely that at some point the suspect has been arrested or accused of a sexual offense prior to 1995 or after 1995.
Statistical data suggests the target age of a suspect within the sex offender typology is 27 years of age, lives at home with a parent or parents, or lives alone. Most often, the suspect is unemployed, or has a poor work history.
Although H1B speculates the suspect may be transient, and has left the state of Arkansas based on the eyewitness description of the suspect’s vehicle and the fact the suspect’s vehicle has not been found in the general area, one cannot rule out the suspect discarded the vehicle soon after the crimes and yet lives in Arkansas or Oklahoma and for unknown reasons no one has tipped the police to the owner of the suspect’s vehicle. It also must be noted that eyewitnesses believed the truck had an Arkansas License Plate.
This report theorizes the suspect will be between the ages of 23-33 at the time of the abduction.
The suspect was unemployed or worked part time and most likely lived with family, perhaps a single parent home, most likely the suspect’s mother. It cannot however, be ruled out the suspect was married, divorced or dating at the time of the abduction.
The suspect most likely had a criminal record at the time of the abductions that made it difficult for him to find stable employment, but one cannot rule out the suspect had a juvenile record that had been expunged; however, this report theorizes the suspect has a troubled mental/criminal history that has caused him to be incarcerated or institutionalized prior to the abductions.
H2C theorizes the suspect may have been identified by a tipster to police, but police overwhelmed by the thousands of tips received in the aftermath of the abduction overlooked the suspect because he did not fit the description of eyewitnesses.
Bivariate Suspect Analysis:
Examining H1B and H2B, this report theorizes that whether or not the suspect is a geographically transient serial killer or local sex offender with an unknown typology, the abduction was sexually motivated, opportunistic, and the suspect did not kidnap with the intent to hold the victim captive for a long period of time.
This report theorizes the suspect’s (whether the suspect is transient or local) intent was to abduct, rape, and murder the victim from the outset and not to abduct and afterwards hold the victim captive.
This report theorizes the suspect calculated the risk/reward of his predatory behaviorism and proceeded to hunt for his victim with the intent to abduct, rape, and murder the victim and then dispose of the victim in a remote location in order to prevent the victim from being discovered afterwards.
The suspect may have disposed of the victim in a remote location as opposed to an easily discoverable location for two reasons: avoid detection, and/or to revisit the scene afterwards.
Thus, the report theorizes that whether or not the suspect is a geographically transient serial killer or local sex offender with an unknown typology the crime was premeditated in the sense that he had calculated the risk/reward of his actions based on his sexually motivated impulses, set out to prey upon an opportunistic suitable victim, and moved quickly to a remote location to avoid detection within a ten to fifteen mile radius (as the crow flies) and disposed of the victim’s body in a predetermined remote location.
As a result of the bivariate analysis H1B and H2C will be accepted and labeled as Operational Theory 1.
Operational Theory 1:
H1B and H2C have similar implications in which the suspect is a sexual offender with an unknown typology and the report is not necessarily dependant to qualify the results by identifying the suspect but to establish a profile based on the suspect’s behaviorism which suggests the suspect more than likely murdered and disposed of the victim’s body within 2 hours of the abduction. Thus, the operational theory is the victim is more than likely in a remote location within a 10-15 mile radius as the crow flies from the site of the abduction.
This operational theory is primarily based on statistical data in regards to nonfamily member child abductions which are most likely sexually motivated. This report also takes into consideration the suspect’s calculated risk/reward factor that theorizes the suspect knew right from wrong, was aware of the risk in regards to being captured due to his predatory behaviorism, and therefore, at least in the suspect’s mind, reduced his risk of capture by preying on juvenile victims he assumed were not being looked after, and once he abducted the victim set forth to reduce the risk of capture by murdering the victim in a remote location and disposing of the body within two hours to further avoid detection and capture.
Furthermore, if in fact the suspect attempted to abduct a child the following day, one can speculate that the suspect felt more empowered afterwards.
However, if one does take this attempted abduction into consideration it suggests that the suspect did not leave the area of Alma immediately. Nevertheless, the validity of this second eyewitness account of attempted abduction is unknown and unverified, but cannot be ruled out. One may infer however if this account is accurate the suspect had by this time disposed of his victim and although empowered, once this attempted abduction was thwarted the suspect recalculated the risk/reward and aborted further attempts to abduct another victim and left the vicinity soon after.
Operational Theory 1 theorizes the suspect is sexually perverse, and fits the profile of a geographically transient serial killer, but this report cannot determine whether this particular abduction is part of a series of murders or if the suspect is a serial rapist/sex offender of an unknown typology that is not transient but lives locally but by examining the Bivariate suspect analysis can justifiably theorize regardless of the sexual offender’s typology the suspect’s intent to abduct was sexually motivated, the victim was murdered and disposed of in a remote location as opposed to stereotypical kidnappings with an intent to ransom, rage/homicide or keep the victim captive.
Instead, Operational Theory 1 infers that the suspect most likely soon after the opportunistic sexually motivated abduction, murdered the victim and disposed of the body in an area within 10-15 miles from the epicenter (location of abduction). The suspect then left the state soon after, or lived nearby within thirty miles from the epicenter.
The Intent to keep type of Stereotypical Kidnapping cannot be ruled out, but this report theorizes the suspect’s intent was sexually motivated with intent to murder. Statistics and data obtained from the DOJ, NCIC, UCR, and NISMART–3 show 8% of victims were kidnapped with the intent to keep and most if not all of the victims were infants.
Nevertheless, this report takes into account cases in which sexually motivated abductions have resulted in victims being held captive after the abduction. Even still, this report also recognizes that in many of these known cases of sexually motivated abductions in which the victim was held captive the suspect was a nonfamily member who had some slight acquaintance with the victim. “As defined in NISMART, a slight acquaintance is a nonfamily perpetrator who could be a person the child or family did not know well enough to speak to, a recent acquaintance whom the child or family knew for less than 6 months, or someone the child or family knew even longer but saw less than once a month.” In other cases defined as intent to keep stereotypical kidnappings the victim may not have known the suspect but the suspect targeted the victim prior to the kidnapping and planned the abduction and the crime was not opportunistic.
Operational Theory 1 theorizes the suspect had no intention to keep the victim in this particular case and had not known the victim prior to the abduction or specifically targeted the victim prior to the abduction and proposes the abduction was opportunistic, random, and sexually motivated with intent to murder and then conceal the body to avoid detection.
Body Disposal Pathway:
It is important to note the various pathways the suspect may have utilized in order to dispose of the victim’s body. Because the victim’s body has not been recovered, which also leaves open the “intent to keep” scenario, one has to assume the suspect:
- Murdered the victim at one location and afterwards transported the body to another location to conceal the body
- The body of the victim was left “as is” at the site of the murder with no attempt to conceal, but left in a remote location making attempts at locating the murder/disposal site difficult to find
- The body of the victim was left at the site of the murder and the suspect took the time to conceal the body after the murder.
*This report rules out the scenario in which the suspect “dumped” the victim’s body in a location in an open public area as opposed to “concealing” or leaving the body “as is” in a remote location.
The three body disposal pathways are all plausible and cannot be ruled out. The FBI Behavioral Science Unit states that pathway B, “The Body Left as is” as the most common body disposal scenario because attempting to conceal the body results in the suspect taking on additional risks:
The movement of the victims’ bodies by offenders increases the chances that an offender may be seen or identified in the vicinity of the murder site and/or disposal site. This movement is extremely risky for an offender, yet these offenders are compelled to move the victims. There are two main reasons offenders’ concealed victims’ bodies:
• To delay or prevent discovery
• In order to place time and distance between themselves and the victims
Complexities in Locating the Disposal Site:
Unfortunately, there is no empirical data utilizing spatial analysis to determine locations of disposal sites of abducted children by examining the geographical behavior of child abductors.
Although criminologists, sociologists, and behavioral scientist have made important strides in better understanding crime and criminal behavior (See Rational Choice, Crime Pattern, and Routine Activity Theories) that may be helpful in aiding law enforcement and communities to develop Situational Crime Prevention techniques, this data cannot predict the seemingly at random distance, or the methods used by a criminal in the case of child abductions to dispose a body.
In fact, the most practical solution is to begin at the epicenter, the place of abduction and expand outwards, and this makes investigating these crimes more difficult for law enforcement, unless the body of a victim is dumped in a public and easily accessible location.
For example, the surface area of the United States is 3.797 million square miles. Of those 3.79 million square miles, roughly 47% of this is not inhabited.
To put this into perspective, the surface, excluding the depth, the Atlantic Ocean covers 41.1 million square miles. The maximum depth of the Atlantic Ocean is recorded as 5.273 miles.
The RMS Titanic is by far one of the most historically recognized tragic shipwrecks that sank in the Atlantic Ocean in April of 1912 after colliding with an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Of the 2224 people on board, more than 1500 would perish at sea, some bodies were recovered after, but many people went down with the ship.
In 1912, the news of the sinking of the Titanic made headlines worldwide, and there were tribunals held to hold those responsible for the mistakes made that led to the ship’s demise.
Technology did not exist in 1912 to locate the wreckage although proposals were made to attempt to salvage the ship in the immediate aftermath. None of these attempts came to fruition due to the fact the depth of the sunken ship was near impossible for humans to dive. In later years, as technology advanced, multiple research teams sought to locate the missing ship and were unable to find it because although researchers were aware that the ship had gone down 350 miles from the coast of Newfoundland, the initial distress call made by the Titanic crew to report its location was inaccurate further complicating the search.
The discovery of the Titanic by Robert Ballard and his team, with cooperation by the US Navy was not made until 1985 nearly 8 years after other teams including Ballard set out to locate the missing ship. The ship was found at a depth of 2.37 miles underwater in the Atlantic Ocean which on its surface covers 41 million square miles.
When examining factors in determining pathways in discovering a disposal site of a murder victim, the search for the Titanic demonstrates the difficulties law enforcement and search teams face.
In the case of the search for the Titanic, researchers were never uncertain that the Titanic was missing, and had documented evidence to aid in their attempts to locate the sunken ship; however, it still took competent scientist and explorers nearly 8 years to find the missing ship.
When attempting to find a logical pathway in locating a disposal site of a murder victim there are no certainties, and most discoveries are made by complete happenstance by hunters, or farmers or hikers, days, weeks or years after a victim has been murdered.
An attempt to hypothesize potential pathways to locate a disposal site of a murdered victim becomes more difficult because of multiple unknown variables the offender might have taken to dispose of the body. For instance, it is unknown if the victim was buried, and if so, did the burial take place in a remote, but public location or if the suspect buried the victim at their own personal property wherewith a probable cause search warrant would be needed in order to search the person’s private property.
There have been multiple cases in which suspects have gone to great lengths to dispose of a body from cremating the remains, to placing the victim in a barrel, to taking those barrels and disposing of them in bodies of water.
These unknowns are discouraging to law enforcement, volunteer search teams, and more importantly the families and loved ones of the victims. However, while understanding the difficulties this report will attempt to create a search grid in order to search a possible location(s) of a disposal site.
Locating Possible Disposal Sites by Analyzing the Geography, City and County Data:
The city limit of Alma, Arkansas is roughly 5.9 square miles with a population of 5,738 as of 2017.
The city of Alma is located in Crawford County, in the western region of Arkansas near the Oklahoma state line and is roughly 604 square miles. Of the 604 square miles 593 is land and 11 is water.
Alma, Arkansas is in a region known as the Arkansas River Valley, with the Arkansas River due south, and it borders the Ozark Mountains to the north.
5 major highways intersect or move directly through the city:
I-40 and Highway 64 east-west
I-49 (previously I-540) and Highway 71 intersect in Alma in a north bound direction
Highway 162 south
Railroad tracks are located three blocks north of the Abduction site running east-west
Alma is surrounded by multiple rural communities.
“Overall the crime rate in Alma is 91% higher than in comparison to the state of Arkansas average; and is also 152% higher than compared to the national average.”
Although most reported crimes involve theft, and property crime, violent crimes, including assault and rape are not uncommon with 11 reported rapes and 37 reported assaults in 2017; however, there were zero murders reported.
As of July 2019 26 registered sex offenders lived in Alma. In Crawford County the County Sheriff’s office states there are approximately 150 registered sex offenders living in the county at anytime.
On June 9th 1995 the mean temperature was 79.8 with a maximum of 91.0 and a mean dew point of 69.7, with zero precipitation; 9.5 MI visibility, Mean Wind Speed: 8.86MPH
Location of Abduction:
Little League Ball Park (which has since been torn down and now is a parking lot) located at North Main (east-west) Hendricks Street (north-south) and Walnut Street (east-west). The site is now adjacent to another ballpark south of the abduction site, and to the east of the abduction site is the Alma Water Department. The abduction site is approximately two blocks west from Fayetteville Avenue which serves as Alma’s main street, and the Alma City Police Department which is on the corner of Walnut, Fayetteville, and Main Street is three blocks from where Morgan Nick was abducted.
Due east of the Abduction site, within one mile is farmland and approximately three miles is a body of water known as Frog Bayou that winds its way south through Alma then turns east for a few miles approximately five miles south of the abduction site until it intersects with the Arkansas River.
Offender-Victim Contact Theory:
Morgan Nick and her mother Colleen had been invited to attend a local little league ball game in Alma Arkansas.
It is unknown as to why the suspect was at the ballpark.
One possible hypothesis according to the Routine Activity Theory is that the suspect was most likely not invited to the park, but was in Alma by chance hunting for a “suitable target” in which the guardian of the child was not present. Therefore, it’s possible to surmise that the suspect was lured to the ballpark by the bright ballpark lights as he drove through the city. The Routine Activity Theory stipulates three necessary conditions for most crimes: a likely offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a capable guardian, coming together in time and space. The lack of any of the three elements is sufficient to prevent a crime which requires offender-victim contact.
Based on eyewitness accounts of an alleged attempted abduction earlier in the evening in Alma that was thwarted by the child’s parent, apparently the suspect was not deterred by this, and continued to search for a suitable target and perhaps by happenstance was drawn to the ballpark by the bright lights and may have only arrived at the park within ten minutes before finding Nick alone and absent her mother or other adults who were at the time busy watching the final innings of the ballgame.
Direction of Travel by Suspect after Abduction Hypothesis:
The direction of travel taken by the suspect after abducting Morgan Nick is unknown.
Although it has been reported that local police arrived on scene within six minutes after Morgan Nick was reported missing, it is unknown how much of a head start the suspect had before Law Enforcement arrived. One could postulate that the suspect may have had at least a fifteen to twenty minute head start before Law Enforcement were contacted to report Morgan Nick as being missing.
If one assumes the suspect had at least a fifteen minute head start the suspect could have driven as far south past Westville towards the Arkansas River on Hwy 162. The suspect could have driven as far north as Mountainburg via Hwy 71. The suspect could have driven east to Mulberry, Arkansas via Hwy 64 or I-40. If traveling west the suspect would have been able to enter into Oklahoma via I-40.
Nevertheless, even if one assumes the suspect had a fifteen to twenty minute lead time prior to Law Enforcement responding to the missing person call, it does not mean the suspect believed he wasn’t running against the clock and time was of the essence to get away from the site of the abduction to an isolated location.
If one takes into consideration that the suspect believes he is running against the clock and is unaware of who might have actually witnessed the abduction, he may have felt impending pressure to move quickly out of site and off any major highways. Considering that it was night time and the suspect is unable to see if Law Enforcement vehicles are approaching or following him, the risk of traveling for an extended period of time versus the reward of being able to proceed with the sexually motivated abduction may have persuaded the suspect to move away from the city limits of Alma into the closest rural and remote location. It is also plausible the suspect had one or more predetermined locations he had previously scouted out or had been familiar with prior to the abduction and drove directly to this location.
The Crime Pattern Theory postulates that criminals have typical spatiotemporal movement patterns and as a result, the most probable area for a criminal to break the law is not far from their normal activity and awareness space. In other words, the abduction site, the crime of abduction and finding a suitable victim was opportunistic, but the rape/murder/body disposal site or sites were fixed locations the suspect may have been familiar with.
Examining the geography of Alma starting from the epicenter (the location of the ballpark Morgan Nick was abducted) and branching out it would seem the quickest route the suspect may have taken to reach a remote rural location would be to take Highway 162 towards Kibler, Arkansas or to head east towards Franklin County towards Mulberry and possibly as far as highway 23 known as the Pig Trail.
If the suspect leaves the site of the abduction and travels north to reach Highway 64, he would have driven through multiple stop signs and stop lights if his intention were to head north via 71, or west via 64 towards Fort Smith, and would have had to driven through a busy intersection to approach I-40.
Although one cannot rule out these scenarios, it seems if the suspect were in a hurry and believed he were in a race against the clock to stay ahead of law enforcement, the direction to lead the suspect towards the quickest rural and isolated areas would have been to head due south towards the Arkansas River bottom lands, or southeast towards the river north of Frog Bayou or further southeast of Frog Bayou towards the Clear Creek Park Campground. Though it is also possible that the suspect went east towards Franklin County via 64 towards 23 in Ozark Arkansas.
The twenty mile radius is within Franklin County. However this report proposes searching areas due south and southeast then moving outwards from the epicenter at five mile increments expanding outwards in a 20 mile radius.
Searching these specific areas due sout however may be problematic due to flooding and if any of these particular sites had been used to dispose of a body, it’s possible all evidence would have been washed away 24 years later.
After examining the satellite imagery of the geographical area within a ten mile radius “as the bird flies” from different periods in time from 1994 to present day, there are 10 “points of interest” that have remained undeveloped from 1995 to 2019, most of them due south or southeast of the abduction site.
Analysis of Plausible Disposal Site(s) Locations:
This report theorizes that the suspect after abducting Morgan Nick most likely would have sought to drive to a remote rural location as opposed to attracting more attention to himself by driving through town and would have as a result been more inclined to travel south from the abduction site to avoid detection and complete the sexually motivated crime he set out on June 9th 1995 to commit.
After examining the geography of the city of Alma, Arkansas starting from the site of the abduction being the epicenter and branching outwards and reviewing satellite imagery that has shown areas of development and areas that have not been developed over the last 24 years 10 points of interest have been located in which may have been seen by the suspect as rural, remote, and afford him privacy and a pathway to dispose of a body either “as is” or take the time to “conceal”.
There are 2 possible search locations which may be on personal property in which permission or probable cause search warrants would be needed to conduct an extensive search.
8 of these locations however are on public lands and a warrant or permission to search would not be necessary.
This report does not dispute the known facts of the case and finds that Morgan Nick was the victim of abduction by an unknown nonfamily member on Friday June 9th 1995 from a ballpark parking lot in the town of Alma, Arkansas at approximately 10:45PM CST.
This report does not dispute the eyewitness accounts of the description of the suspect’s vehicle as being a Ford pick-up truck, red, but faded due to exposure and time, and a white camper shell covering the bed of the truck a few inches short had been installed on the vehicle at the time of the abduction.
This report does not dispute the eyewitness accounts that a person matching Morgan Nick’s abductor attempted to, but was thwarted from abducting at least one young juvenile female prior to and on the night of Morgan Nick’s abduction. However, this report cannot rule out but does call into question whether or not the same suspect attempted to abduct another young juvenile female the following day is factual, coincidental or fabricated.
This report cannot dispute the descriptive details given to law enforcement by eyewitnesses about the suspect seen at the ballpark prior to abducting Morgan Nick. Although, this report does not dispute the suspect is a white male, it does attempt to clarify the suspect’s age at the time of the abduction based on the criminal typology of the offender.
This report has examined the known facts of the case, peer-reviewed reports, criminal profiles, case data, and statistical analysis reported by multiple agencies in an attempt to bring closure to the family of Morgan Nick by establishing an operational working theory that
- examined the offender typology
- Examined the offender motive
- demonstrated a plausible offender-victim contact theory
- examined the geography of the abduction site and surrounding areas
- Examined stereotypical kidnapping data
- Examined pathways of potential body disposal scenarios
- Examined the most plausible direction of travel the offender would have taken after the abduction
- Examined and located 10 points of interest that have not been developed over the last 24 years as plausible body disposal sites.
The Operational Working Theory established by this report examining the abduction of Morgan Nick on June 9th 1995 in Alma, Arkansas concludes:
- The suspect is a known sex offender; but cannot establish whether the suspect is a geographically transient serial killer, or a local sex offender with an unknown offender typology, but argues that the differing variable of the two types of offender is the age of the offender at the time of the abduction and the transient offender would have moved out of the area after the crime as opposed to staying in the area; but, either type of offender could have had the same motivation, acted impulsively after finding a suitable suspect, moved towards a remote rural location after the abduction for the purpose to avoid detection and to dispose of the body.
- The Criminal Classification Code for this specific crime would be 319.03 Abduction Rape of a Child (with intent to murder)
- Although it cannot be ruled out, based on the empirical data the report theorizes the crime was sexually motivated, with intent to murder the victim as opposed to holding the victim captive.
- The victim was most likely murdered within two hours of being abducted.
- The victim was most likely disposed “as is” as opposed to being “dumped” or “concealed” in a remote rural location within a ten mile radius “as the crow flies” from the abduction site.
- The route taken by the suspect after the abduction was most likely in a southern or southeastern direction which would be the quickest route to a remote, rural location even if the suspect had a fifteen to twenty minute lead time before law enforcement were contacted. The suspect would have most likely behaved as if he were running against the clock and would have wanted to be off the highways and in a rural area as opposed to traveling a greater distance from the point of the abduction.
- The victim is most likely disposed of in a location south or southeast within a ten mile radius “as the crow flies” of the site of the abduction in a rural, remote, and undeveloped area.
- 10 points of interest have been designated as possible disposal areas that have not been developed over the last 24 years. 8 locations are accessible by the public and 2 locations may be on private property.
- Although, this report has designated multiple search areas south and southeast of the epicenter, it does not rule out the disposal site is further within a 20 mile radius “as the crow flies”. There are multiple areas of interest within a 20 mile radius, but recommends to search these areas first as one branches out from the epicenter, and if after these areas are thoroughly searched recommends pushing the search grid further by moving out to a fifteen mile radius, searching within that grid, and branching out to 20 miles if there are no results in the recommended search areas.
It is recommended that the 10 points of interest designated as possible disposal areas be searched. After 24 years however, with many of the designated locations being near bodies of water, one has to conclude evidence may have been washed away by flooding if in fact these areas were used by the suspect.
The MSCTEM is no different than most experimental models in which the only way to test the legitimacy of the model and the methodology is to follow the steps in the Scientific Process.
Thus, the conclusion of this report finds itself at step 3 in the scientific process, and the next step would be to test the hypothesis by conducting a search in the 10 points of interest designated as possible disposal sites.
Therefore, hopefully in August, I will begin searching these areas in Alma Arkansas personally.
I will be reporting my progress as I search the designated areas, although it will take me a considerable amount of time to search each and every location.
Weather permitting, and if financially able to afford the expenses, I hope to begin the search as early as the first week of August and continue through October or until I find closure for the victim and the victim’s family.
Disclaimer: I do not represent the family of Morgan Nick or any Law Enforcement Agency. All theories listed on this site are my own.
If you have any information in regards to the abduction of Morgan Nick please contact:
- Alma Police Department 501-632-3930
- Arkansas State Police 501-783-5195
- Federal Bureau of Investigation 202-324-3000
Data Utilized in this Report:
Serial Murder Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators Behavioral Analysis Unit-2 National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime Critical Incident Response Group Federal Bureau of Investigation
Crime Classification Manual: John Douglas, Ann W. Burgess, and Robert Ressler isbn 9781118421536