THE MAN WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE

On 22 March, 1977, Ruth Morgan’s husband disappeared.

Charles ‘Chuck’ Morgan lived a seemingly ordinary life as an escrow agent in Tucson, Arizona. He went to work one morning and never came home.

Ruth and her four daughters did not hear anything from him for three days. Then, at around two o’clock on the third morning, she heard the dog barking. She opened the back door and there was her husband, missing a shoe and with a plastic handcuff around one ankle and another set dangling from each wrist.

He motioned to his throat, miming that he couldn’t talk. She fetched him paper and a pen. He wrote that his throat had been painted with a hallucinogenic drug and that he had been kidnapped and tortured but had managed to escape.

Naturally, Ruth urged him to go to the police, but he said that would “sign a death warrant for the entire family.” He wouldn’t tell her who had kidnapped him, or why, saying only that the less she knew, the better.

In the following weeks he grew a beard and wouldn’t let his daughters leave the house alone; he arranged for them to be driven to school and picked up each day.

But then, two months later, he disappeared again.

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This time Ruth received a phone call from a woman who referred to herself as “Green Eyes.” She told Ruth: “Chuck is all right and everything will be all right.” She said “Ecclesiastes 12:1-8,” and hung up.

But he wasn’t alright.

On the 18th of June, Morgan’s body was discovered near his car on a dirt road in Sells, around 40 miles west of Tucson. He had been shot in the back of his head with his own .357-caliber magnum which was found nearby, wiped clean.  He was wearing a bulletproof vest and was armed with a knife.

Inside his car, Pima County sheriff’s investigators found a cache of ammunition as well as several other weapons and several sets of handcuffs. They also found one of Morgan’s teeth, wrapped up in a tissue, and a pair of sunglasses that didn’t belong to him. Investigators also found that his car had been modified so that it could be unlocked from the fender.

Pinned to his underwear, was a map with directions of how to get to the murder site as well as a $2 bill.

Written on the bill were seven Spanish names, beginning with the letters A through G. Above them was the notation, “Ecclesiastes 12,” with the verses one through eight marked by arrows drawn on the bill’s serial number.

Shortly after Morgan’s body was found, his impounded car was broken into while in police possession. His office was ransacked as well and several weeks later, two men claiming to be FBI agents showed up at Ruth’s home, tore it apart looking for something, and left empty-handed.

His attorney, Ronald J. Newman, revealed that Morgan was a key witness into a Treasury Department investigation into Tucson’s Banco International de Arizona.

In the seventies, Arizona was the only state in the Union that allowed individuals to buy property through numbered blind trust accounts. It was ideal for money laundering and only the escrow agent – people such as Morgan – would know the owner’s true identity.

At the time of his disappearance, Morgan was involved in real estate work for two alleged organised crime groups – the Ned Warren family and the Joe Bonanno family.

So, you won’t be astonished to learn that Morgan’s death was ruled a suicide and the case was closed less than two months later.

Because it’s obvious what happened: Charles Morgan, in utter fear for his life, put on a bulletproof vest, loaded his car with ammunition, pulled one of his teeth out, then drove to an isolated spot, took out his gun and somehow twisted it around to the back of his head and shot himself with it.

It was the logical thing to do.

If you agree, then you missed your calling. You could have had a long and illustrious career in law enforcement in Arizona…

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Colin Falconer

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