On the evening of June 9, 1995, Colleen Nick and her six-year-old daughter Morgan traveled to Alma, Arkansas, to watch the children of friends play in a Little League baseball game.
As darkness fell, Morgan and two friends lost interest in the game. Instead of watching young boys catch fly balls, the children wanted to catch fireflies. They asked their parents if they could go play in a nearby field. The play field was within eyesight of the ball field, near where the cars were parked. With reluctance following Morgan’s persistent begging, Colleen let her go with her friends. A grateful Morgan thanked her mom, hugged her and gave her a big kiss before setting off on her quest to nab the glowing critters. As the game wound down, Colleen periodically glanced to the field and saw Morgan playing. The last images she has of her daughter is of her gleefully playing in the sand.
At the ballgame that evening, far more than bases were stolen. In an instant, someone stole a child, and the ripple effect would be stolen innocence, stolen memories, and a stolen life. Morgan, who dreamed of performing in the circus when she grew up, had disappeared. News of her presumed abduction spread beyond Alma, through all of Arkansas, and then all of America. Twenty-four-years later, however, Morgan remains missing.
When the ball game ended at approximately 10:45 p.m., the children began walking from the playing field to the ball field. Morgan stopped at her mom’s car to clean the sand from her shoes. She told her fiends she would meet them at the ball field, but she never arrived.
By the time Colleen reached her car, Morgan was gone. The police were summoned and conducted a search of the area but found no trace of her.
Morgan’s friends remembered seeing a man they described as “creepy” talking to Morgan in the playfield. Several people recalled seeing a man matching the girls’ description watching Morgan play on the field earlier in the evening. While Morgan was playing with a different group of children, the man approached them and asked a question. Police have not released any details about what was asked. The man was in a red pickup truck. By the time police arrived to search for Morgan, the truck was gone.
Earlier that day in Alma, the same man is believed to have attempted to entice a four-year-old girl into his vehicle. Her mother saw it happen and screamed. The man heard her, saw her running toward his vehicle, threw the girl out of the vehicle, and sped away– in a red pickup truck.
The following day in Fort Smith, 15 miles southwest of Alma, the same man is believed to have tried to entice a nine-year-old girl into a men’s restroom at a convenience store. He stopped when the girl resisted. The girl said the man was driving a red truck.
Because the man in both instances resembled the man believed to be Morgan’s abductor, and because the truck involved in both incidents resembles the one seen at the ball field that evening, police believe they are linked to Morgan’s abduction.
Police believe the man is a loner, with few friends. He had a scruffy beard and salt-and-pepper hair. He is Caucasian, and in 1995 was between the ages of 23-38-years-old and spoke with a “hillbilly” accent. He weighed approximately 180 pounds and stood about 6’0 tall.
The truck the man was driving was a low wheelbase, red Ford pickup with dulled paint and a white camper shell with curtains covering the windows. Witnesses noted the shell was too short for the bed and the rear passenger side was damaged.
In 2002, seven years after Morgan’s kidnapping, police received a tip that she may be buried on a private piece of land in Booneville, Arkansas, 53 miles southeast of Alma. However, after digging on the property, authorities found no trace of Morgan or any evidence that she had ever been there.
In August of 2012, seventeen years since the last trace of Morgan Nick, Tonya Smith was arrested for computer fraud after attempting to assume Morgan’s identity. She was sentenced to six years’ probation and fined $2,500.
Police believe Smith was not involved in or has any knowledge of Morgan’s disappearance.
Acting on another tip, on November 15, 2010, investigators searched a vacant house in Spiro, Oklahoma, 35 southwest of Alma, for DNA evidence that Morgan had once been in the house. At the time, the property was vacant, but a former occupant who once rented a mobile-home on the property had recently been convicted of the sexual molestation of a child and was considered a person of interest in Morgan’s disappearance. The search produced nothing relative to Morgan.
Granted permission by the new owner, on December 18, 2017, investigators returned to the house to conduct another search after receiving another tip. This search proved deja vu as no evidence was found suggesting Morgan had ever been there.
The previous occupant, now jailed in Oklahoma for the rape and molestation, remains a person of interest in Morgan’s abduction.
One year after Morgan’s abduction, Colleen Nick established the Morgan Nick Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to prevent children from going missing and offers a support system to families who are facing the hardships of a missing child. The foundation has helped bring several children home safely, but its namesake child remains missing.
The state of Arkansas renamed its Amber Alert system after Morgan Nick.
It is rare, but not unprecedented, that a child is found alive years after being kidnapped by a stranger. The rescues of Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, and the Cleveland children Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight give hope, however faint, that Morgan could still be alive and will one day come home.
Beginning with her establishment of the Morgan Nick Foundation, Colleen Nick has become a crusader in searching for missing children. She relentlessly searches for her daughter, confident her efforts will not be in vain.
Police say over the years there have been hundreds of reported sightings of Morgan across the country, but none could be confirmed.
At the time of her disappearance, Morgan’s teeth were crowded and she would have needed orthodontic braces in adolescence. Police hope if she were kidnapped to be raised as another person’s child, a worker in the dental field will have recalled doing the procedure.
Morgan Nick would today be 31-years-old.
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More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:
Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)
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