FDLE investigation of Morris death in Bradenton Beach motel nears end

jdeleon@bradenton.comAugust 15, 2013 

BRADENTON BEACH -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is nearing the end of its investigation into the death of 22-year-old Sheena Morris.

Morris' body was found hanging in a shower at a Bradenton Beach hotel Jan. 1, 2009.

The Bradenton Beach police ruled the death a suicide, but family and friends insisted she was murdered.

FDLE has completed the interview portion of its investigation and is working with the State Attorney's Office, according to spokesman Steve Arthur.

Assistant State Attorney Art Brown confirmed he received a stack of reports on all the interviews done by FDLE. He is still waiting for reports from the experts consulted, he said.

"What I will be doing is going through the reports and consulting with FDLE if I feel any further investigation is needed," Brown said.

Brown says he expects it to be weeks before any decisions are made.

For Morris' mother, Kelly Osborne, the news was

bittersweet.

"It has been so many years, this battle has been hard, long and grueling and to know we may just be weeks away," Osborne said. "This is very exciting news to know we are nearing the end."

Osborne fought for years to get her daughter's case reopened after it was ruled a suicide. The family financed their own investigation into the woman's death.

"I went from being a mother of an only child to becoming my daughter's own investigator when the Bradenton Beach Police Department failed to conduct a thorough investigation," Osborne said. "I gave up my career to get the job done."

A FDLE SpecializedMulti-Agency ReviewTeam panel reviewed the initial investigation upon request by Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale. The case was reopened in October 2012 and has been under investigation by FDLE.

Detective Sgt. Leonard Diaz of the Bradenton Beach Police Department would not comment on the status of the case other than to say it is still open. He said he is working with the FDLE after the department requested assistance in October.

Osborne said she is grateful there has now been a thorough investigation and for the time and work put in by FDLE.

She also commended the Medical's Examiner's Office, which conducted a second autopsy, for remaining neutral and professional.

"It has been a very difficult financial burden," Osborne said. "I don't think they give one thought to what it has done to us financially and emotionally."

In the end, Osborne said she hopes justice will be brought against any person found responsible for her daughter's death -- and more.

"I strongly will seek for discipline to be handed down to those responsible in the Bradenton Beach Police Department, including Chief Speciale, whether that is forced retirement or fired," Osborne said.

"But I will see that this doesn't happen to another family again, nor will they be treated in the matter we have for so many years."

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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