Friends, family and police still seek answers 1 year after Newport murder

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – A year has passed since the murder of 70-year-old James Logan Morgan of Newport.

Morgan was found dead on August 18, 2011, in Newport after being stabbed multiple times.

Police are still unsure who killed Morgan, and Arkansas State Police has continued to offer its assistance with the investigation.

Those who knew Morgan best gathered this past weekend for a memorial service. They are still searching for answers and continually ask why.

Alice Stephenson can hardly forget Morgan, her friend and neighbor for almost 40 years.

"I couldn't have been any closer to James and taken it any harder as if it would been a member of my family," Stephenson said, while seated on Morgan's front porch Monday. "He was white and I'm black, but I felt like he was my brother."

Stephenson lives a block from Morgan's home, located at 314 Vine Street in Newport. Family members discovered his body there last August. Morgan died of multiple stab wounds, and his house has sat vacant ever since.

"It's just nerve wracking to think that something like that happened in our community where we all are supposed to love each other," she said. "I thought that we did love each other but evidently not."

Stephenson helped organize the memorial service for Morgan, who had worked as a preacher and had a passion for helping others.

"He was a godly and a Christian man," friend Phil McDonald said, "and I'm sure that James forgave that person the first stabbing blade that went in his chest.

"I wish I was that kind of person," he added, "because I can't forgive them at all."

McDonald worked alongside Morgan on several projects for the Jackson County Historical Society. He says Morgan was like the glue that held the group together.

A recent edition of the historical society's "Stream of History" publication served as a dedication to Morgan's life and work. The editor wrote, "The suggestion was, 'Ask James. He'll know the answer.'"

Now that the man with the answers is gone, however, McDonald and others say closure will come if justice comes quickly.

The Newport Police Department is still offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information about this case.

To contact Newport police, call 870-523-2722.

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.