ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A sex case against a former Lindbergh High School track coach could still be pursued despite the destruction of evidence.
It’s now often called the case that died with Emilie Morris, after a recent documentary brought a national spotlight.
Morris’ family recently learned Emilie’s audio recording of her former Lindbergh High School track coach has been destroyed by police, per department retention policy.
“It’s devastating and you’re just so used to hearing negative information, but it just hurts every time to hear that the police don’t even have this as a kind of evidence anymore,” said Andrea Morris, Emilie’s sister.
In 2013, Emilie spoke out and then recorded evidence the former coach abused her.
The suspect, who we’re not identifying because he does not currently face criminal charges, can be heard saying, “We did something that wasn’t right according to our laws these days, right?”
“I remember when I had heard that she pulled it off,” Andrea said. “I actually had to sit down. Emilie went through such unbelievable lengths and she was so brave to do this – so brave to go and meet up with this person who allegedly abused her for so long.”
The audio tape led to sodomy charges against the former coach in 2013, but the charges were dropped the next year after Emilie died. Investigators labeled her death as suspicious.
Prosecutors say the criminal case couldn’t hold up because the suspect has the right to challenge his accuser in court and you can’t cross examine an audio recording.
Andrea believed the recording would still be valuable one day.
“All this time I thought this was some kind of record that could be picked up and maybe piled into other cases or, you know, even just piggybacked onto other evidence but I found out that it’s already been destroyed,” she said.
Andrea has her own copy but worries it won’t be admissible again. The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said it most likely would be admissible again if a witness comes forward, which is something they’ve always needed.
A St. Louis County Police spokesperson said it cannot indefinitely keep evidence that does not lead to charges and the Prosecutor’s office added that it doesn’t mean the investigation is over. Public Information Officer Chris King said the most important breakthrough would be a new victim or witness coming forward.
He explained, “When the public gets engaged, it’s much easier for us to get justice for victims and I would never would want to miss any opportunity – and almost just beg people, if you are a victim or a witness of a crime, particularly of a violent crime or particularly of a sexual crime against a child, you must come forward.”
The former suspect in this case has ignored repeated requests to comment. County police added that though the Department did nothing wrong, it is working on a possible plan to strengthen its retention policy. County police already stores about 25 thousand pieces of evidence and a stronger policy could involve a new storage facility.
Andrea Morris believes justice remains possible as long as she keeps her sister’s voice alive.
She said, “I’m at a point where I want to continue updating directly with what things are happening. what things would help people heal more, and what kind of action folks think we should take moving forward.”
This past weekend she started a Facebook page called “Emilie Morris Case Updates” to try to accomplish those things.