(Sidney) -- After nearly two decades, law enforcement and family members are still hoping for more information on the murder of a former Fremont County minister and mental health care worker.
On June 20, 2002, Kevin Morse was shot while fishing along the banks of the Missouri River in Fremont County. After authorities discovered Morse's body near a levee next to the river below the Nebraska City Bridge along Highway 2, a massive two-state search was launched to find the killer, including the Fremont and Otoe County Sheriff's Office, Iowa and Nebraska State Patrols, the Nebraska City Police Department, and other agencies. However, neither of the potential suspects would be found. Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope, who was a deputy at the time, tells KMA News the first challenging task was locating Morse.
"Nobody was sure where he was, they thought he was by the river somewhere but they didn't know for sure, so it took us a little while to figure out where it was," said Aistrope. "We had a deputy head that way, and then I actually talked to the rest home because that's the one that called us and said there had been a shooting."
According to reports, Morse had called the director of nursing at the Country Acres Care Center, which he managed, and informed them he had been shot but couldn't identify his location before his phone went dead.
Additionally, Aistrope says they struggled with the case early due to very little information from witnesses, including some saying they had seen two individuals fleeing the scene of the shooting. But, the Sheriff's Office is still actively pursuing the case. While a cold case is challenging to pick up, Aistrope says he has placed Sergeant Andrew Wake on the case to serve as a fresh pair of eyes on the nearly 20-year-old documents.
"The deputy on that I gave it to was not on the force at that time so he's fresh eyes looking at it," said Aistrope. "I know he has all the case files from the (Department of Criminal Investigation) and I know he's talked to DCI. So, I know they're getting ready to conduct more interviews on it."
While at the time of his murder, Morse was managing the Country Acres Care Center, he had also served as a minister for several decades. Daniel Morse, Kevin Morse's son, says he and his mother arrived at the scene shortly after one of the first county deputies. Morse says he knew the potential spot after spending several fishing trips with his father, who he says was an avid fisherman.
"He loved to fish and he liked to fish in places that most people wouldn't go -- little creeks and streams out in the middle of nowhere," said Daniel Morse. "He liked catching fish that most people wouldn't even like to eat. He liked fishing for carp, which for a lot of people (they) wouldn't even think twice about fishing for carp around here. But, he enjoyed being outside and being in nature."
Daniel Morse says the hope stays alive after nearly 20 years by believing that somebody is out there with information, or even the culprit could feel the need to clear their conscience.
"Somebody saw something, somebody knows something, and hopefully 20 years later, somebody's more willing to speak up," said Daniel Morse. "We need somebody to come forward and it's frustrating because somebody's been holding on to this for two decades and our family would love to have the closure of knowing exactly what happened. My grandparents are getting older and I know that they would like to know what happened to there son and why it happened."
Anyone with information on the case is encouraged to contact the Fremont County Sheriff's Office.