s organizers prepare for the this evening’s candlelight vigil for crime victims’ rights, Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira said she was moved to receive an inscribed candle from the family of 1998 torture/murder victim John Morgan.
“We love and miss you … in loving memory of John Morgan,” is the inscription written in marker at the base of the candle.
Sira said she plans to carry Morgan’s candle at the vigil, which starts at 6 p.m. on the lawn of the courthouse, where three former friends of the 19-year-old Warrensburg native were sentenced to possible life prison terms for their roles in his death.
Morgan, who was living in Fonda at the time of the murder, was beaten, cut and bound. After salt was rubbed into his wounds he was strangled and bleach poured down his throat.
Sira, who was an assistant district attorney in 1998 and one of the prosecutors, called the circumstances of the murder horrific.
The group was angry at Morgan for running up a $900 phone bill at the home of assailant Theodore Cook, then 17 and residing on South Melcher Street Extension in Johnstown. That was also the scene of the crime.
Cook and co-defendant Lucas Whaley, also 17 at the time and portrayed in court as the instigator, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and were sentenced to terms of 23 years to life and 25 years to life, respectively. Co-defendant Amanda Dzierson, then 21, was sentenced to 20 years to life on a kidnapping charge. She was a former girlfriend of Morgan’s.
Dzierson is eligible for parole in March 2018. Cook could be released as early as March 2021 and Whaley in March 2023.
In a letter to Sira, Morgan’s family said they sent the candle “So he is not forgotten. Please know he is in all our hearts and is thought of everyday and to have him be remembered this way is sad but we are glad that he and other crime victims are being honored for the price they paid for senseless reasons.”
Sira said she will open the ceremony tonight with prepared remarks, before the names of victims are read.
The event is co-sponsored by the county’s Domestic Violence Task Force.