Parents believe daughter was murdered
September 7, 2012
CARBONDALE – Questions about the 2011 death of Morgan Ingram, 20, are spreading through Facebook as people share links to the blog her parents have posted on the Internet.
Although the death was officially ruled a suicide, Ingram’s parents contend that their daughter was murdered by a stalker, that authorities mishandled the case and that the Sheriff’s Department should reopen the investigation.
“I knew in my heart that she had been murdered,” Toni Ingram said last week, describing the morning she discovered her daughter’s lifeless body.
Ingram, a graduate of Aspen High School, was found dead on Dec. 2, 2011, in her bed at her family’s home in the Aspen Equestrian Estates subdivision east of Carbondale. There were no signs of assault.
Her death initially was attributed to natural causes, according to an autopsy report dated Dec. 19 by Dr. Robert Kurtzman, of Grand Junction, a forensic pathologist and former coroner for Mesa County. The Mesa County coroner routinely handles autopsies for Garfield County.
Specifically, Kurtzman’s report cited “marked pulmonary edema,” or fluid buildup in the lungs, and “acute intermittent porphyria,” a metabolic disorder that causes severe stomach pains.
On July 28 however, Kurtzman’s office issued a revised postmortem report that cites the cause of death as suicide resulting from a prescription-drug overdose.
Morgan Ingram died from “amitriptyline intoxication,” according to Kurtzman’s report.
Amitriptyline, a prescription drug, is used to treat symptoms of depression, pain associated with the nerves and migraines, according to the online Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders.
But Ingram’s mother has refused to accept either of Kurtzman’s verdicts.
“She was never diagnosed with porphyria,” Toni Ingram said. She said her husband had put that idea into Kurtzman’s head when he wrote the doctor a note outlining some possible ideas concerning causes of Morgan’s death.
“I know she wasn’t suicidal. She wasn’t,” Toni Ingram said of her daughter.
She and her husband, Steve, maintain a daily blog about Morgan, recounting her life and death, raising ongoing questions about the case and recalling the family’s efforts to deal with a stalker who they say was pursuing Ingram at the time of her death.
The blog has captured the interest of a widely scattered group of people and has been widely reposted on Facebook. Last week, the Post Independent fielded calls from concerned individuals as far away as Texas and Connecticut, as well as numerous locals, all eager to know more about the case.
Toni Ingram steadfastly insists that the stalker – she has an idea of who he is – is the prime suspect for the murder of Morgan Ingram. She has a picture, taken with a wildlife camera mounted outside the home, that she believes shows the stalker.
She said Garfield County sheriff’s Detective Rob Glassmire confronted the potential suspect at his place of work soon after Ingram died.
Glassmire concluded that the suspect had not been involved, but Toni Ingram feels differently.
She said the man was arrested in Glenwood Springs about two weeks after Morgan died, and police found drugs and jewelry in his car.
She said the Glenwood Springs Police Department, which made the arrest, would not allow her to see the jewelry to know if it matched some jewelry missing from her daughter’s bedroom. Officials at the Police Department was not available for comment.
Glassmire was not available for comment, but his partner, Detective Megan Alstatt, said that the stalker case is not necessarily closed.
“I believe it’s inactive, but technically we could reopen it,” she said, although she said the department has no plans to do so without new evidence of some sort.
Several different people were viewed as suspects, she said.
“At this time we don’t have enough evidence to go through with arrests for any of those people,” she added.
Toni Ingram said there was no way her daughter had taken enough amitriptyline to leave more than twice the lethal dose in her bloodstream at the time of the autopsy.
“She wasn’t taking amitriptyline, hadn’t been for two years before she died,” Ingram said. There were still pill bottles in her daughter’s bedroom that contained some old pills, she said.
Toni Ingram said her daughter had developed severe abdominal pains when she was about 12 years old, after being exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide because of faulty furnace flues in the family’s home.
But after treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, Ingram said, Morgan’s symptoms vanished.
“She was strong, she was muscular – it was amazing,” she recalled. Morgan took up ballet, yoga and outdoor activities.
Even after the stalking incidents began in August 2011, her mother said, Morgan refused to stay cooped up and out of circulation.
Toni Ingram said she is not going to let go of her conviction that her daughter was murdered, no matter what the coroner and the Sheriff’s Department say.
Sheriff Lou Vallario, however, stuck by Kurtzman’s conclusions.
“The results of the autopsy and pathology reports were that the manner of death was suicide,” the sheriff wrote in an email.
“Unfortunately, the family, who are clearly victims in this case, are traumatized by the death of their daughter, rightfully so, and are struggling to deal with her death,” Vallario added. “I am sorry for the grief and difficulty the family is going through.”