The parents of a 14-year-old boy who is missing in Indiana forced him to wear a t-shirt daubed with the words ‘liar’ and ‘cheat’ before he vanished, police have said.
Scottie Dean Morris was last seen in his home town of Eaton, 76 miles northeast of Indianapolis, at 8.30pm on March 16 and missing person alert said ‘he is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance’.
His parents, Felicia and Brian Morris, have taken lie detector tests as part of the investigation after police were provided with a distressing photo of Scottie in the t-shirt to use as part of the search. It had the words ‘I’m a liar’ handwritten onto it with a marker pen and also appeared to say ‘I hurt my brother’.
Police Chief Jay Turner said Scottie’s parents forced him to wear the shirt as a punishment, although it’s unclear what for.
The search for Scottie was suspended on Monday night and his mom, Felicia Morris, issued a desperate appeal to Scottie directly, urging him to come home.
Eaton Police Department initially released a distressing photo of Scottie wearing a white t-shirt with the words ‘I’m a liar’ handwritten onto it with a marker pen. The picture was withdrawn but Scottie is thought to have been wearing the t-shirt when he went missing
His mom, Felicia Morris, has also issued a desperate appeal to Scottie directly, urging him to come home
Scottie Dean Morris, second from left, with his siblings. Scottie was last seen in his home town of Eaton, 76 miles northeast of Indianapolis, at 8.30pm on March 16
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources have now launched a search of local waterways, with boats, sonar systems, drones and dive teams on standby.
After Scottie was reported missing, Eaton Police Department released the photo of him wearing the t-shirt. Police later apologized for sharing the picture after a backlash over the ‘humiliating’ image and reissued a version with the t-shirt cropped out.
But Chief Turner said it was ‘the only photo’ the department was given and it was ‘displayed as an investigation tool’, suggesting it could hold clues about the circumstances of Scottie’s disappearance or aid the search.
The picture was reportedly taken the day Scottie went missing and Chief Turner has since confirmed to 21Alive that he was made to wear it as a punishment.
The missing person note also says he was ‘last seen wearing black shoes, red and black shorts and a white T-shirt with writing on the front,’ suggesting he was wearing it at the time.
Chief Turner said: ‘The shirt, it was quite unorthodox, kind of disturbing, and we’re looking into that.’
But the police chief shutdown speculation that Scottie was forced to have his head shaved, saying the boy’s haircut in the photo was ‘his idea’.
He said Scottie’s parents were heartbroken and ‘beat up pretty bad on social media’ after the picture of Scottie in the t-shirt was posted, adding: ‘Right now, they have cooperated the entire time with us.’
Deputy Chief Chris Liggett said on Monday that ‘there have been several interviews done, polygraphs have been conducted’.
‘We have no new leads, no new information, we’re kind of a standstill right now,’ he said.
He said the search was suspended on Monday night ahead of a meeting on Tuesday between law enforcement officials and other emergency services.
The recent cold weather in the region has also added to the concerns for Scottie’s wellbeing. Recent night time temperatures have fallen to as low as 34F.
In an emotional appeal to her son, Scottie’s mother said: ‘Scott, I love you and I want you to come home.
Scottie’s parents, Felicia and Brian Morris, have taken lie detector tests as part of the investigation
Police in Eaton suspended their search for Scottie on Monday night ahead of a meeting on Tuesday to decide the next steps
Scottie’s mom, Felicia Morris, said: ‘I know you are mad and confused and I’m afraid you’re scared with all of this. Everyone is looking out for you, we’re not trying to scare you. You’re not in trouble.’
Scottie’s mom, Felicia, at a press conference with Eaton PD police chief Jay Turner, who apologized after the photo of Scottie in the graffitied t-shirt was released by police
‘I know you are mad and confused and I’m afraid you’re scared with all of this. Everyone is looking out for you, we’re not trying to scare you. You’re not in trouble.
‘If you’re in a house and they come to you and you don’t want to go out because it’s the cops, reach out. Me and dad will come get you. I love you and I just want you to come home. I need to know that you’re safe.’
Chief Turner added: ‘You’re not in trouble, we want to help you, just please contact us.’ He also said most of Scottie’s classmates are away on spring break and police are investigating whether he’s hidden in one of their empty homes.
Searches of some of those properties were expected to take place.
Scottie is 5 foot 4 inches tall, 150 pounds and has brown hair with blue eyes.
The search operation has included infrared drones, a boat search of a nearby river and bloodhound teams. Eaton is a small town of around 1,600 people and many residents have joined the search efforts in recent days.
‘There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from the community, and we thank each and every one of you that have volunteered during this time,’ police said.
If you have any information on Scottie Dean Morris, contact the Eaton Police Department at (765) 396-3297 or 911.
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