Slain Bigamist's 1st Wife Faces Charges
Thursday, August 9, 2007; 2:57 PM
NORRISTOWN, Pa. -- A woman killed her longtime husband hours before he was to leave on a trip to Morocco to try to impregnate his new second wife, prosecutors said in filing murder charges Thursday.
Myra Morton, 47, turned herself in Thursday to face murder charges in the death of Jereleigh Morton, also 47, who was shot in his bed early Sunday morning in his million-dollar home outside Philadelphia.
The killing happened just hours before Jereleigh Morton was to travel to Africa to try to conceive a baby with his second wife, whom he met on the Internet last year and married in March, prosecutors said.
Myra Morton had reluctantly agreed to the second marriage and even traveled to Morocco to sanction it under Islamic law, authorities have said.
On Sunday, she told police that an intruder had come into the bedroom and shot her husband. Authorities, though, found no signs of a break-in. He was shot twice in the head with his own gun, which had been kept in a relatively inaccessible place, authorities said.
"Myra Morton's description of events is thoroughly inconsistent with the physical evidence found at the scene," authorities wrote in an affidavit of probable cause.
Prosecutors charged Morton with first-degree murder, third-degree murder and related counts. She was being held without bail pending an Aug. 20 hearing. She removed her veil that left only her eyes showing, customarily worn by some very conservative Muslim women, at the request of law enforcement during the arraignment.
Prosecutors suggested that jealousy and control of the Mortons' more than $6 million in assets were possible motives for the killing. "$6 million is an awfully large motive," First Assistant District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said.
Morton didn't comment on her way in to meet with authorities.
One of her lawyers, Brian J. McMonagle, said he still needed to evaluate the charges and evidence before commenting.
"She's going through a horrific time. Her world has been devastated by these events," McMonagle said.
The Mortons, who hail from North Philadelphia, converted to Islam about 20 years ago. They lived in a small Philadelphia row house until a medical malpractice settlement over their teenage daughter's death netted them a reported $8 million in 2005.
A minority of Muslims take second wives, said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who added that Islamic scholars would differ on whether one could do so while living in the United States.
Prosecutors have said they aren't sure whether Pennsylvania's polygamy ban would apply to a marriage in a foreign country.