Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008

Search intensifies for missing Poolesville man

Morris last seen in his driveway in July

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After nearly six months, the case of a missing Poolesville man has caught the public’s eye thanks to the efforts of his family and a volunteer missing persons organization.

John James Morris, 38, was last seen in the driveway at the home he shared with his boyfriend on Whites Ferry Road on July 30. Morris and his boyfriend had recently ended their 12-year relationship. His family contacted Montgomery County Police and reported Morris missing Aug. 23 after he missed several of their weekly telephone conversations.

Morris is described as white, 6 feet tall and 185 pounds with brown eyes, graying brown hair, a tattoo of a snake on his right forearm and a tattoo of a scorpion on his left shoulder. A talented painter, he may be working as a landscaper, a handyman or a glazier.

The Maryland Missing Persons Network, a Web-based volunteer organization that helps locate missing persons, sent out a press release asking for help in locating Morris on Jan. 9 after getting in touch with his mother over her MySpace page, which is dedicated to finding her son, according to network coordinator Kylen Johnson. The Maryland Missing Persons Network also has a MySpace page.

‘‘I just got to talking to her and was surprised [police] hadn’t sent out a press release or anything,” she said last week. County police sent out a media statement asking for the public’s help in locating Morris on Friday.

In Montgomery County, the investigating detective decides whether a missing person case warrants a press release, said Cpl. Jimmy Robinson, a spokesman for county police. He said there are no criteria for making that determination.

‘‘[Adults] can go where they want to go,” he said. ‘‘In most instances, the person always pops up.” There are currently 36 active missing adult cases in the county, he said. Many times the person is eventually discovered living in another country, he added, and oftentimes a person returns and the police are not informed.

A press release was not initially sent out because police thought that Morris, who is unemployed and frequently left town for weeks at a time, may have entered a drug treatment program, according to Detective Rod Stephens, who is investigating. As time went on, the circumstances of Morris’ disapearance appeared to be more unusual, Robinson said, that there is no evidence indicating foul play or that he may have harmed himself. A K9 search of the woods by his house on Friday did not result in any leads, Stephens said. A cursery search of the property was conducted by officers shortly after Morris was reported missing, Robinson said.

‘‘We had hoped he went on an extended trip after the break-up, but that seems to not be the case,” Stephens said.

Madeline Morris, John’s mother, said she is pleased with the police’s search for her son.

‘‘I think they’re doing a wonderful job,” she said in a telephone interview from her home in New Jersey. ‘‘ ... They are doing a good job; they went far beyond their duty.”

She said it wasn’t like her son to miss their weekly telephone conversations.

‘‘It’s not like him not to call,” she said. She described her son as friendly and easy-going.

Before his disappearance, Morris had recently returned to Maryland after a weeklong trip to New Jersey to retrieve his belongings, his mother said.

According to police statement, he had recently ended his relationship with his live-in boyfriend, who his mother, Madeline Morris, said was staying at the couple’s Washington, D.C., condo at the time. His boyfriend was also verbally abusive, Robinson said.

When she last spoke to her son on July 30, he told her that somebody was coming to pick him up. The neighbor who last saw Morris told police that he appeared to be waiting for a ride, Robinson said.

Morris, who Robinson said has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and a history of depression and suicidal tendencies, sounded distressed during their last telephone conversation, Madeline Morris said.

‘‘He was just not like himself,” she said. ‘‘He was angry and depressed. He was just hallucinating.”

No one has reported hearing from or seeing Morris since, Robinson said. All of his belongings, including his truck and his dog, were at the home when police checked in, Madeline Morris said.

Anyone with information about Morris is asked to call Stephens at 301-840-2650.

Call withinformation

John James Morris, 38, of Poolesivlle, was last seen July 30. He is described as a white male, 6 feet tall and 185 pounds with brown eyes, graying brown hair, a tattoo of a snake on his right forearm and a tattoo of a scorpion on his left shoulder.

Anyone with information about John James Morris, 38, is asked to call Montgomery County Police Det. Rod Stephens at 301-840-2650. For more information about the Maryland Missing Persons Network, visit www.marylandmissing.com or e-mail marylandmissing@yahoo.com.