New search for missing Indiana teen
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Police conducted a new search on Thursday night in an “area of interest” for a missing 14-year-old Indiana boy Scottie Dean Morris, who was last photographed wearing a shirt that said “I’m a liar,” among other phrases.
Officials with the Eaton Police Department released new information about the search hours later on Friday, revealing that “no human remains” were found but that investigators continue to search for clues.
“There has been talk that human remains were found last night, that claims is FALSE,” police announced. “We were dispatched to an area of interest last night, however, there were no human remains found there. Our investigatory search continues today to find Scottie.”
In a message posted earlier on Thursday, investigators also asked residents that have security cameras on the outside of their homes to “please check your footage from 8:15 pm to 11:00 pm on March 16th 2023.”
The request had been made previously but authorities wanted to make sure everyone had seen it.
Police also reinforced that anyone with information about Morris’ whereabouts to contact the department at 765-396-3297
Morris was last seen around 8:30 p.m. on March 16 leaving his home on East Indiana Avenue in Eaton, police said in a press release. Eaton is located just over an hour northeast of Indianapolis.
While teams of volunteer searchers are no longer being used, police say that boats, drones, sonar equipment, and K-9 teams will still be utilized to “check the areas of water nearby” and to search the river areas out of Eaton Town limits.
The teen vanished shortly after he was photographed wearing a white T-shirt with bizarre phrases handwritten across the front, including “I’m a liar,” “cheat,” and “I hurt my little brother.”
It is believed that the controversial photo of Morris was taken earlier in the day Thursday, while the teen was “in conflict with adults at his home,” according to a report from the Indianapolis Star.
Authorities initially said that Morris was “believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance,” but have not elaborated on the specific danger or medical condition they were referring to in the release.
The department emphasized that officers “are still investigating and working leads” as they come in. Other agencies assisting include the Indiana State Police, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and at least one federal organization.
Authorities further asked that the public “refrain from making false statements and accusations” regarding the missing child.
In the immediate aftermath of Morris’ disappearance, the department was the subject of public backlash and speculation after posting the aforementioned photograph showing Morris looking sullen while wearing a shirt that appeared to be designed to shame and humiliate him.
The department clarified the mishap in a subsequent press release on Friday. saying it was the “ONLY photo that EPD was given to display” at the time.
“We are very sorry the post seemed as if we were trying to shame him in anyway, as that would NEVER be our intent,” the release states. “When posting Scottie was not in trouble with the department, we meant we were here to help him and it is the intent of every Officer to find him safely. Placing that photo on social media was in no way an attempt to embarrass or humiliate him. Actually, it was displayed as an investigation tool.”
The department later edited the photo and cropped out Morris’ shirt.
Eaton Deputy Chief Chris Ligett last Monday said that authorities had interviewed multiple people and conducted several polygraph tests but that there were “no new leads” and “no new information” regarding Morris’ whereabouts, saying the department was at a “standstill” in the search.
In the days since Morris went missing, his mother, Felicia Morris — who police say has been “very cooperative” with the investigation — went on television and gave an impassioned plea for her son to return home, addressing him directly.
“Scott, I love you and I want you to come home,” Ms Morris while sobbing. “I know you are mad and confused and I’m afraid you’re scared with all of this. Everyone is looking out for you, we’re not trying to scare you. You’re not in trouble.”
Law&Crime’s Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.
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