Oklahoma's Own In Focus: Tulsa Police Explain Investigation Into Missing Woman Found Dead

Investigators say there were so many red flags when Cassidy Ritchie was reported missing, and the evidence made them believe she was already dead and had been murdered. They say this wasn't a rescue mission, so they had to do everything by the book.

Monday, January 29th 2024, 5:30 pm



There has been a lot of confusion and even criticism about why police had Cassidy Ritchie's car Friday but didn't search it until Sunday.

News On 6 asked investigators those questions on Monday and learned the legal reasons that led to their decisions.

Investigators say there were so many red flags when Cassidy Ritchie was reported missing, and the evidence made them believe she was already dead and had been murdered. They say this wasn't a rescue mission, so they had to do everything by the book.

"It is hard enough to tell someone that their loved one is dead, but to have to tell somebody that their loved one is dead and the killer gets to walk free because we jumped the gun, and we did things that were extra-legal, would be horrific,” said Lieutenant Brandon Watkins with Tulsa Police.

Investigators say Ritchie was last heard from Sunday, the 21st. They now believe that's when she was killed.

TPD put out an alert about her missing and in danger on Thursday, the 25th, and posted a picture of her missing car. Investigators found her car along Highway 412 near Inola on Friday the 26th after several people saw it. Investigators looked into the car from the outside but didn't see any evidence of Ritchie.

Why did investigators wait to search inside the car?

Investigators asked the suspect, Christopher Morland, if they could search it since he's part owner, but he said no, so they got a warrant. They got the warrant signed by a judge on Saturday, the 27th and the next day, found her Ritchie hidden inside the car.

"Serving a warrant on a murder scene is a lot more intricate than serving a warrant on, say, any car. We don't want to get into that car, we don't want detectives inside that car. We want crime scene to go over it because we are looking for trace evidence, we are looking for blood evidence, we are looking for DNA evidence,” said Watkins.

Watkins says the car was on the side of the highway for several days before they recovered it. OHP had even put a tow sticker on it.

"We can place our suspect with the car on Tuesday at that location,” said Watkins. "The suspect did a very good job of covering the body up and making it appear like there was nothing back there."

Had they seen evidence of her inside the vehicle, they could have searched without a warrant.

“We had to go through it, and we had to go through it right. You can do it fast, or you can do it right. We chose right. We don't want the suspect who killed her walking free because we decided to jump the gun,” said Watkins.

New documents say witnesses told police Morland and Ritchie argued daily.

They say Morland stayed in their car for two days after police believe he murdered Ritchie until he got a ride home last Wednesday.

A fund has been set up by a family friend to raise money for Ritchie's funeral expenses. Click here to view the GoFundMe.

What was the husband's criminal history?

Chris Morland was booked into the Tulsa County jail last Thursday on a Texas warrant for being a fugitive from justice.

Now, he's been booked for murder.

Records show he was arrested in Montague County, Texas, in 2019 for assault and had two warrants for having a gun as a felon and a parole violation in California, where investigators say he served time for murder.

Records show he was arrested for family violence in 2021 in Wichita County, Texas, accused of slapping and punching his wife, but that was later dismissed.

logo

Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News on 6 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

January 29th, 2024

June 20th, 2024

June 20th, 2024

June 20th, 2024

Top Headlines

June 20th, 2024

June 20th, 2024

June 20th, 2024

June 20th, 2024