Oxford, N.C. — The husband of a Granville County woman missing for more than a year has been charged with first-degree murder in the case.
Family members of Kelly Morris, 28, also said Wednesday that authorities notified them that skeletal remains found Tuesday afternoon in the southern part of the county are those of the mother of two.
Morris was last seen Sept. 3, 2008. The following day, the house she shared with her family at 3220 Tump Wilkins Road caught fire, which officials ruled was arson. Hours afterward, authorities found Morris' car about a mile from her home with her keys, purse and cell phone inside.
William Scott Morris, 35, of 113 W. Church St., Creedmoor, was taken into custody and charged Tuesday evening. In addition to murder, he also faces a charge of fraudulently burning a dwelling.
He was being held in the Granville County Detention Center without bond Wednesday afternoon. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 2.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins said authorities received information Monday that led them to a wooded area off Sam Moss Hayes Road in Creedmoor, where the remains – identified using dental records – were found Tuesday afternoon.
Family members told WRAL News that the remains were found in the Tar River Fox Pen along Sam Moss Hayes Road.
"There were searches conducted in that area,” Al Mignacci, a volunteer who searched for Kelly Morris, said.
Citing the ongoing investigation, Wilkins declined to comment further on the case or a possible motive.
"I hope this arrest will bring some closure to Kelly's family," he said.
James Ray, owner of the fox pen, also declined to talk about the case but did say Scott Morris is not a member of the preserve.
Meanwhile, Kelly Morris' father and stepmother – Pat and Juanita Currin – have filed a petition for custody of the Morrises' 6-year-old daughter, who has been staying with her father and grandparents.
A second daughter, Kelly Morris' from a previous relationship, has been staying with her father.
Chief District Court Judge Daniel Finch on Tuesday signed an emergency order that states that Kelly Morris was likely the victim of a homicide and that Scott Morris was likely involved in her death.
A custody hearing is scheduled for Friday.
The order states that Scott Morris had the “intent to deceive” investigators, made numerous inconsistent statements to authorities about his whereabouts the day his wife went missing and will likely be charged with kidnapping and/or murder.
The order further suggests that Scott Morris' father, Jimmy Morris, might have been involved in a cover-up.
According to search warrants in the case, family members and friends told authorities the couple was having marital problems and had talked about divorce. They also indicate inconsistencies between Scott Morris' account and those of others regarding his actions in the hours after he says he last saw his wife and the following day.
Lisa Thompson, Kelly Morris’ friend, said she wants to see justice served.
"He has no heart. He should not have anything to do with society or anybody else,” Thompson said of Scott Morris.
Family members, authorities and volunteers from as far away as Texas have searched relentlessly over the past year for the missing woman.
"She was a loving mother, a loving daughter," Kelly Morris' mother, Wanda Hollis, said Wednesday. "Today has been a bittersweet day, but we found Kelly."