OSBI sending agent to interview man in Arizona

Tuesday, April 15th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A man jailed in Arizona in connection with the deaths of six prostitutes will be interviewed by Oklahoma authorities looking for leads in four deaths near Lawton.

Cory Morris, 24, was arrested Saturday in Phoenix after a decomposing body was found in a camper where he sometimes lived. He has admitted to police there that he lured the women with drugs and strangled five of them during sex, according to court documents released Monday.

Morris, who grew up in Oklahoma City, where his mother still lives, is being held on $1.3 million bond for investigation of six counts of first-degree murder. Formal charges were pending.

An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent was headed to Phoenix to question Morris about the deaths of four women killed in the Lawton area during a three-year span ending in February 2002.

``We're not really calling him a suspect right now, but we're certainly interested in what he has to say,'' said Jessica Brown, OSBI spokeswoman.

The nude, decomposed body of Janice Marie Buono, 29, was discovered Feb. 23, 2002, in a pond outlet on a Comanche County road.

The other women also were nude and found in rural areas of the county in creeks or ponds, beginning in 1999. They had similar physical appearances, either knew each other or had common acquaintances and had lifestyles that included drugs and prostitution, investigators said.

Morris was living in Oklahoma during that time period, Brown said. It is not known where.

Buono died of an overdose of cocaine and methamphetamine, while Mandy Ann Raite, 21, died of a cocaine overdose, the medical examiner said.

Raite's body was found in a small creek bed June 17, 2000, not far from where Buono's body was discovered nearly two years later.

Cassandra Lee Ramsey, 25, was found March 22, 2000, in a ditch near the Jefferson-Cotton County line on U.S. 70. The body of 28-year-old Jane Marie Chafton was found Aug. 13, 1999, in Sandy Bear Creek near Velma.

Coroners could not determine what killed Ramsey and Chafton.

Morris was arrested in Arizona during a police investigation into the deaths of five of the women whose bodies had been dumped in the Garfield neighborhood.

At first, police treated the deaths as routine drug overdoses. Of the six, four of the women had lethal does of cocaine in their systems and no signs of trauma to their bodies, police said.

Phoenix police Detective Tony Morales said Morris' arrest stemmed from his uncle's discovery of the body in the recreational vehicle. The victim was lying face-down on the bed under some blankets and a sleeping bag, he said.

Morales said Morris is believed to have slept in the same bed with the corpse, which had been decomposing for at least three days before it was found.