Real Name: Charles Curtis Morgan
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Date: June 18, 1977
Details: Thirty-nine-year-old Chuck Morgan was a successful businessman who was the president of his own escrow agency. He was also a potential witness in a state land fraud case involving a known crime boss. On March 22, 1977, he left his Tucson, Arizona home to drive two of his daughters to school. After dropping them off, he vanished. Three days later, he arrived back at his home. According to his wife, Ruth, he was missing a shoe, had a plastic handcuff around one ankle, and had his hands tied together with a plastic zip tie. He could not speak, but with a pen and paper, he wrote down that he had been kidnapped and tortured. He also wrote that a hallucinogenic drug had been painted on his throat. He claimed that this drug would drive him insane or kill him if he ingested it. He asked Ruth to move his car, because he did not want "them" to know that he had returned home. However, he would not say who "they" were. He also told her not to call the police because a hit would be put out on the lives of them and their family members.
For one week, Ruth nursed Chuck back to health by feeding him with an eye dropper. Before his voice returned, he began to allude to a secret identity. He claimed that he had worked as an agent for the federal government and he fought against organized crime. He also claimed that "they" had taken his treasury identification. He said that he escaped from his captors near Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport.
After his kidnapping, Chuck became justifiably paranoid. He began wearing a bulletproof vest. He also started driving his daughters to and from school. He informed the school that nobody else should be allowed to pick them up. On June 7, two months after his initial disappearance, Chuck vanished again. Shortly before his second disappearance, he told his father that if anything were to happen to him, there was a letter he had written that would tell them who was responsible. The letter was never found; however, nine days later, an unidentified woman called Ruth and said: "Chuck is alright, Ecclesiastics 12: 1-8". This is a reference to a Bible passage, which reads, in part:
"Men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road. Remember him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was and the spirit will return to God who gave it."
Two days later, Chuck was found shot to death despite the fact he was found wearing a bulletproof vest. His body was found in the desert thirty feet off the highway in the San Juan Springs area. He had been shot once in the back of the head with a bullet from his .357 Magnum, which was lying beside him. No fingerprints were found on it. Gunshot residue was found on his left hand, indicating he had fired a weapon. In his car, police found a note that had directions to the crime scene written in his handwriting. Also found in the car were several weapons, ammunition, and a CB radio. Strangely, a piece of one of his teeth was found wrapped in a white handkerchief in the back seat. A pair of sunglasses was also found that did not belong to him.
Strangely, Chuck had clipped a $2 bill inside his underwear. Written on the bill were seven Spanish names from the letters A to G. Also, Ecclesiastics 12 was written, with the verses 1 through 8 marked by arrows drawn on the bill's serial number. This was the same reference that the female caller had made to Ruth. On the back of the bill, the signers of the Declaration of Independence were numbered 1 through 7. Also, a crude map was drawn, which show several roads between Tucson and the Mexican border. The towns Robles Junction and Sasabe were marked; these towns are apparently known for smuggling.
Two days after Chuck's death, an anonymous woman spoke to an officer for the Pima County Sheriff's Department on the telephone. She claimed that he was supposed to meet her at a local motel shortly before he died. She claimed that her nickname was "Green Eyes" and that she was the same woman that had called Ruth several days earlier. She also claimed that at the motel, Chuck showed her a briefcase containing several thousand dollars in cash. He said that the money would buy him out of a gang contract that had been put on his life.
Surprisingly, despite the bizarre evidence, authorities ruled that Chuck committed suicide. They believed that he did so either because of financial difficulties or fears for his safety. His family and a reporter named Don Deveraux believe he was murdered. Some investigators also suspect that his death was not a suicide.
Shortly after Chuck's death, his impounded car was broken into while it was in police possession. Around that same time, his office was also ransacked. Three weeks after his death, two men claiming to be FBI agents arrived at the Morgan home. They told Ruth that they had to look through the house. They tore the house apart and searched for quite awhile. It is unknown if they ever found anything or if they were even FBI agents. When Deveraux contacted the FBI, they claimed that they had never even heard of Chuck Morgan.
There are several rumors surrounding this case, including that Chuck was killed because he was involved with illegal activity or was doing secret work for the government. His death seems just as unexplained as the events leading to it.
Suspects: Although Chuck claimed that he was working against organized crime, some believe that he was actually involved with it. During the 1970s, Tucson, along with other cities in Arizona, became a place that the mafia moved to, due to its warm climate and controversial criminal justice system. Led by former New York Don Joseph Bonanno, more than five-hundred racketeers moved to Tucson during the 1970s. Their influence led to several gangland-style killings in the area, one of the more famous being the murder of investigative reporter Don Bolles.
What made Arizona most attractive to crime syndicates was a unique state law that allowed them to buy land through numbered blind trust accounts. This would allow them to remain anonymous and successfully launder money. Chuck did real estate escrow work for at least one Mafia family. They may have used him to do escrow work for purchases of gold bullion and platinum; this was a more convenient way for them to launder money. Starting in 1973, it appeared that he was doing several million dollars of escrow work in bullion and platinum. In reality, there was no bullion or platinum. Instead, the money was moved through several escrow accounts and "legitimized."
On one occasion, Chuck mentioned to Ruth that money laundering was occurring in Tucson; however, he claimed that he was not involved in it. He also stated that the less she and the children knew about his activities, the better it would be for them. It is theorized that Chuck Morgan was killed by members of organized crime in the Tucson area. It is possible that the Mafia family that he worked for had him killed because he knew too much. One theory is that organized crime bosses put the word out that they wanted Chuck dead. A hit-man then told Chuck, so he came up with the money in order to buy the hit-man off. However, when the two met in the desert, the hit-man killed him anyway and took the money. This theory has not been confirmed.
Extra Notes: This case originally aired on the February 7, 1990 episode.
Although it was not mentioned in the segment, Chuck was a secret witness in an extensive land-fraud investigation and was interviewed about it in May 1977, shortly before his death. It is not known if this had anything to do with his death. Also not mentioned was that Chuck had been seen at several restaurants and motels on the west side of Tucson after his disappearance and before his death.
Results: Unsolved. After the case aired, Unsolved Mysteries received several calls relating to Chuck's death. Don Deveraux investigated several leads that came up as a result of the program. He learned that Chuck was heavily involved in money laundering activities through his Tucson escrow company. From 1973 to his death in 1977, he was also involved in large gold and platinum transactions. He apparently received a large amount of money from these activities, and some of this money allegedly came from Southeast Asia. Deveraux discovered that Chuck kept duplicate records of the illicit transactions. Deveraux now believes that Chuck was killed because he still had these records.
Three months after the broadcast, Doug Johnston was found shot to death in his car outside of his Phoenix office. Interestingly, he worked across the street from Deveraux's office, and drove an almost identical car. Deveraux now believes that he was supposed to be killed instead of Doug. A year after Doug's murder, Deveraux was contacted by a writer from D.C. named Danny Casolaro. He agreed to share with him the information that he had uncovered about Chuck's illegal gold transactions. However, Danny died suspiciously before he received the information. All three cases remain unsolved. Sadly, Chuck's widow, Ruth Morgan, died in 2006.
- Chuck Morgan on Unsolved.com
- Missing executive found dead - June 19, 1977
- A slim lead becomes no lead in killing of city businessman - June 20, 1977
- Woman says Morgan hid, trying to buy off his life - June 21, 1977
- Morgan credited in inquiry - June 22, 1977
- Investigators baffled by Morgan death clues - June 22, 1977
- Woman says slain businessman sought to pay off contract killer - June 22, 1977
- Suicide Probed In Sells Death - June 22, 1977
- Business records probed in shooting - June 28, 1977
- Probers feel witness shot himself - August 11, 1977
- Suicide Concluded In Morgan's Death - August 11, 1977
- Mysterious shooting ended both of Tucson businessman's lives - February 4, 1979
- 2 capital infusions set off series of scandals - February 28, 1982
- 'Mysteries' takes on Tucson case of escrow agent's bizarre death - February 7, 1990
- Strange evidence found in '77 on, near man's body - March 31, 2010
- Unresolved Reddit Post on Chuck Morgan
- The Mysterious Death of Chuck Morgan - Trace Evidence Podcast
- Find A Grave site