Local News

Judge extends temporary custody of Morrises' daughter

Posted November 20, 2009 8:26 a.m. EST
Updated November 20, 2009 6:32 p.m. EST

— A District Court judge on Friday extended an order giving temporary custody of the 6-year-old daughter of Scott and Kelly Morris to her maternal grandfather until at least January.

Pat Currin and his wife, Juanita Currin, filed a request for custody Tuesday, the same day authorities discovered his daughter, Kelly Morris', skeletal remains in a wooded area in Creedmoor.

The Stem mother of two had been missing for more than 14 months after she failed to show up for work on Sept. 4, 2008. The same day, the house she shared with her family caught fire and her car, purse and cell phone were found in a neighborhood about a mile from her home.

Her husband, Scott Morris, 35, was charged this week with first-degree murder and with fraudulently burning a dwelling.

He is in jail without bond, but he did appear at the brief hearing Friday about the custody of the couple's daughter, Haley.

Kelly Morris' other daughter, Taylor, has been staying with her biological father since her mother's disappearance.

"In my position, I really don't see what I can do," he told Judge Daniel Finch. "The only thing that I ask is that I would like for you to allow my parents to see (Haley)."

Scott Morris did not indicate whether he planned to hire an attorney to represent him in the civil matter. He has 30 days to respond to the complaint.

In the document, Kelly Morris' father and stepmother allege that in the months prior to their daughter's disappearance that Scott Morris "engaged in a pattern of emotional abuse directed toward Kelly and both of her children."

It also cites an affidavit of an State Bureau of Investigation agent claiming that Scott Morris had "punched holes in the wall during arguments and once threw a computer out a window."

The Currins also state in their complaint that "the continued separation of Haley from her sister Taylor is causing Haley substantial emotional distress" and that Scott Morris had been uncooperative in helping his daughter cope with the loss of their mother.

Pat Currin declined to talk about the custody issue Friday but said he and his family are planning a funeral for his daughter.

"This is just one more page in the book," Currin said, speaking publicly for the first time since his daughter's remains were found.

"It's some relief," he continued. "We're glad to have found Kelly. At least we got some closure with that."

Meanwhile, Scott Morris remains in custody of the Granville County Sheriff's Office.

At a news conference Wednesday, Sheriff Brindell Wilkins said dental records helped identify Kelly Morris' remains but he declined to comment further on the criminal case, including how she might have died or a motive.

Family members told WRAL News that the remains were found in the Tar River Fox Pen along Sam Moss Hayes Road.

According to search warrant affidavits related to the case, investigators said the couple had been having marital problems and had been talking about the divorce.