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Kevin Lane Morse, a 44-year-old minister, was shot on Thursday, June 20, 2002, while fishing along the banks on the Missouri River in Fremont County, Iowa.
Fremont County authorities said Morse’s body was found near a levee next to the Missouri River below the Nebraska City Bridge along Highway Two. Fremont County Sheriff Steve McDonald said Morse, who managed the Country Acres Care Center south of Sidney, had called the facility’s director of nursing shortly before 4:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon and told her he had been shot. He wasn’t able to say where he was, and then his cell phone went dead.
McDonald said the employee then called 911 to alert authorities of the call. The nursing home director told dispatchers Morse had gone to Nebraska City to return pop cans for the mental health facility that he was running. He had mentioned to his employees and residents that “the carp would be biting near the mulberry trees.”
As officials initiated a search from Sidney to Nebraska City, another employee and her husband found Morse’s pickup parked at the levee. McDonald said a county sheriff’s deputy arrived at approximately the same time. Morse had already died from the gunshot wound.
According to Sheriff McDonald, the subjects who fled the crime scene were described as two white males in their early 20s. One of the subjects wore a white T-shirt and blue jeans, and reportedly carried a rifle. The other suspect wore a dark blue T-shirt and blue jeans.
The discovery of Morse’s body touched off a massive investigation and manhunt in two states. Officers from several agencies arrived at the scene, including the Fremont County and Otoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa and Nebraska State Patrols and the Nebraska City Police Department, and other agencies.
Officers employed two area drug dogs and fanned out across the area. Two boats were deployed along the river, and a Nebraska State Patrol helicopter and Iowa State Patrol airplane circled the area hoping to spot the subjects.
The subjects had not yet been located by late Thursday evening, and McDonald warned nearby residents to be alert of anything suspicious. On a Rootsweb message board, Nancy Boyd wrote that it was the first time they locked their doors and put a handgun on the bedroom headboard.
Those who knew Morse described him as a nice man who was well liked in his community.
Despite the intensive investigation, the case eventually went cold and Kevin Morse’s murder remains unsolved.
Kevin Lane Morse, one of two children of Lane Frederick and Helen Carolene Morse, was born at Red Oak, Iowa on July 30, 1957. He grew up in Emerson, Iowa and graduated from Nishna Valley High School in 1976. He attended Iowa Western Community College in Clarinda, Iowa and began working for the Earl May store in Shenandoah, Iowa.
Kevin and Mary Anne Churchill of New Market, Iowa were married on August 4, 1978, and established their first home in Shenandoah. In 1979, they moved to Emerson and Kevin began a nine year career with the Mills County Road Department. During this time he studied for the ministry and in 1988, they moved to Malvern, Iowa where Kevin became the pastor of the First Baptist Church.
In 1990, Kevin resigned his post at the First Baptist Church and took a job with People’s Service. This same year, Kevin founded the Family Worship Center Church in Malvern and the congregation quickly grew and made many improvements to the building. Kevin delivered a positive up-beat message and enthusiastically supported the church activities. In 1998, Kevin took a job with the City of Council Bluffs, Iowa that would allow him more flexible time to pastor. Kevin was ordained as a minister in the Pentecostal Church of God.
In July of 2000, Kevin became the administrator of the Country Acres Care Center at Sidney, Iowa. During this time, Kevin helped develop a plan to convert the Family Worship Center building into a Christian based youth center.
Kevin and Mary were blessed with three children: Daniel Lane, Kristine Anne, and Caleb Mark. They had joined the Victory Fellowship Church in Council Bluffs where Kevin was active in the church programs. He had been a member of the Emerson Volunteer Fire Department and First Responders. In addition to his church activities, Kevin enjoyed hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.
Kevin was survived by his wife of 23 years, Mary Morse; children Daniel, Kristine, and Caleb all of Malvern; parents Lane and Carolene Morse of Emerson; sister Karla McGrew-Pearson and her husband Calvin of Emerson; three nieces; aunts, uncles, other relatives and friends.
Rev. Morse was buried at the Emerson Cemetery in Mills County, Iowa.
Anyone with information about Rev. Kevin Morse’s unsolved murder is asked to contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office at (712) 374-2673.