alan morse

The story of Alan Morse is a sad one, and unfortunately illustrative of how easy it is to simply lose someone in the great busy bustle of our world. Alan was a teenager from Austell, Georgia, not far from Atlanta. He joined the Navy sometime in the late 1980s and was stationed at the U.S. Naval Air Station on St. David’s Island, Bermuda, where he worked as an air traffic controller. Sometime in October 1989 he came home to visit his parents in Austell on leave. At the end of his leave Alan prepared to return to Bermuda and told his parents goodbye, saying he’d see them at Christmastime. He told his mother that his father would drive him to the airport, and told his father that his mother was going to do it. He never made it to the airport at all, and certainly did not return to St. David’s Island. The police refused to take a missing person’s report.

There is some evidence that Alan deserted the Navy. Evidently he told a friend that he was unhappy with the service. The deception involving the airport ride seems to suggest that he vanished voluntarily. Many years later, in the 2000s, the Navy contacted Alan’s father and said they wouldn’t prosecute him for desertion if he ever turned up. The senior Morse hired a private eye, who discovered a friend of Alan’s who took him to a bus station after he left his parents. Again, this suggests a voluntary disappearance.

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This is the Naval Air Station at Bermuda, where Alan was stationed. It closed permanently in 1995.

But what happened to Alan Morse after that? After the bus station the trail goes totally cold. The long lapse in law enforcement interest in the case–no one even opened a file until 2007–means that important leads were lost and memories faded. No trace of this young man has been found since 1989. We don’t even seem to know where he was going on that bus, much less whether he made it there.

From my (admittedly unprofessional) study of missing persons cases, Alan Morse’s fits the rare profile of a case where it’s quite possible that the person is still alive, perhaps under another identity in another country somewhere. You need a lot of smarts and some luck to pull off an escape like this, but it does happen. Another possibility is that something terrible happened to Alan after he dropped off the radar screen. Unfortunately, unless he is still alive and chooses to resurface, we may never know. In the meantime the Morse family remains wondering, with a large piece of their lives gone–the sad and unavoidable coda to so many missing persons cases.

Here is the Charley Project file on Alan Morse.

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