Chattanooga woman accused of murdering elderly man with crowbar
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A Chattanooga woman is accused of beating an elderly man to death with a crowbar. Chattanooga Police say a woman called 911 just before 9 p.m. Saturday saying she'd hit her 73-year-old roommate in the head with a crowbar and killed him.
Friends of the two say the suspect is confined to a wheelchair because she doesn't have legs and never thought she'd hurt the elderly gentlemen who took her in.
When Chattanooga Police got to the South Orchard Knob Avenue home Saturday night, they say 73-year-old James Masingill was lying dead with severe head trauma.
"He was very nice. He didn't bother anybody," neighbor Shelia Brown said.
"He was a frail old man," East Lake Neighborhood Watch President William Roper said.
They arrested 48-year-old Laura Morgan after she admitted to beating him with a crowbar. She's charged with first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery.
"I don't know if she was planning it and already had it sitting there ready to go or what," Roper said.
Those who know the two never thought she could hurt Masingill since she doesn't have legs, but also say when she's on drugs, she's willing to do anything for money.
"I think she was high. I do. I know her and I kind of think that," Brown said.
Morgan has a criminal history that includes several prostitution and drug arrests. Neighbors say they didn't have a romantic relationship, but that Masingill was trying to help her turn her life around the last few years and that it had seemed to be working.
"Took her off the streets and gave her a home and gave her everything she wanted," Brown said.
"He was a real nice guy. He'd help her out as much as he could," Roper said.
Roper says despite her continued battle with drugs, Morgan was always friendly.
"Just a normal person. Not the psycho that you would think," Roper said.
But, friends knew their arrangement wasn't going well the last few weeks.
"He told me, Shelia, she's driving me crazy. I said I don't know what to tell you, Jimmy," Brown said.
They say Masingill had lived alone for decades before taking Morgan in and say they're heartbroken it cost him his life.
"I'm all for the death penalty. Somebody that causes such a brutal murder, I don't think they deserve anything less" Roper said.
Laura Morgan is due in court February 5th for the first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery charges. Detectives won't say what or how much she stole or a definite answer on why.
We'll continue to follow this case.