“The case is scary because it involves such a terrible tragedy.” What if it were my child? That’s what I think we all thought, and as a community, it really hit us that something like that could happen in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Bill Waltrip, who used to be the police chief of Bowling Green, said that about Morgan Violi’s case. It all started on July 24, 1996, just after noon.
Agent Dick Glenn, who is in charge of Morgan’s case for the FBI, said, “Morgan and another little girl were walking back to her apartment from a play area they had set up in the woods when someone grabbed Morgan, put her in a van, and drove off with her.”
“I turned around when I heard the scream.” He was only sitting in the van. He smiled, and the other little girl ran through the apartment buildings while I didn’t… Heather Coleman, Morgan’s oldest sister, saw the kidnapping and said, “I thought they were just messing around.”
Morgan Violi, 7, was taken from the yard in front of her Bowling Green apartment building during the day.
Oh, I’m the oldest. I told her to put her shoes on. “That was the last time I saw her,” Heather told WBKO.
At the time, her two older sisters were playing in the same area.
“When it first happened I just went to bed on my own and thought it was a bad dream, but you wake up and there’s cops everywhere, strangers,” Heather shared.
Nikki Duff agreed. She is the middle child of Heather and Morgan Duff.
“I remember the same thing.” I thought it was a dream before bed, but when I woke up, I knew it wasn’t.
Good times were had by the family before July 24, 1996. One thing stands out in Morgan’s mother, Stacey Pulliam’s, mind.
“Her laugh. She smiled all the time.
“She was beautiful, friendly, smart, and she was the best part of me,” Heather said.
But everything changed in an instant.
“I remember that like it was written on my brain.” Almost the whole time. Glen Violi, Morgan’s dad, said, “Days like that you don’t forget.”
“She knew she was loved.” She knew that her family loved her. Those were my last words to her, so she knew I meant them. “That was the last thing I said to her. I told her how proud I was to be her mom [sic].”
“That’s when we had to grow up. “At that point, there wasn’t much playing,” Nikki said.
Morgan’s family had a lot of questions during the weeks and months that went by. A lot of them still don’t know the answer.
“There had to be two.” He was driving. “I mean, I don’t see her by herself—there had to have been two,” Heather said about the person who took Morgan.
“The van used in the kidnapping was stolen from a house in Dayton, Ohio, the day before the kidnapping. Soon after, it was left at a truck stop in Franklin, Tennessee.” “We found it three days later, three days after the kidnapping, but we couldn’t connect that van to the kidnapping until March of the next year,” said Special Agent Glenn.
The family felt a lot of different things.
“I think I’ve seen that person since then.” I’m scared that person is now a part of my life and I don’t know it. “I remember seeing him, but I don’t remember what he looked like,” Nikki said.
He changed me and my family, so it’s hard to remember the good times because I was so angry. I can’t forget the face of the man that’s stuck in my mind. And the fact that they still don’t know after three months, Heather said.
“Responding to these kinds of calls is pretty normal.” “But as it went on, the length of time changed,” Waltrip said with a mean face.
After three months, there was a break in the case. Morgan’s body was found near a barn in White House, Tennessee, just across the state line, on October 20, 1996. Even though the barn is gone now, the pain from those days is still very real.
“He just left her there,” Morgan’s mom said through tears.
“It looks like you were looking for something. He also said, “You didn’t want to find that; you just kept your hopes up that it wouldn’t be that way.”
Glen Violi said, “I knew right then and there I was never going to see her again.” He could tell from the moment he found out that things wouldn’t go well. Do you know? It was just a thought.
Anyone who is linked to the kidnapping and de*ath of Morgan Violi has not been caught yet.
“He took her more than that. He took what it meant for us to be mothers, sisters, and daughters. Heather said, “He took a lot.”
And Stacey says it’s been hard to get up and go on every day since then.
“Some days I win.” I don’t every day. It’s a tough fight. Every single day.”
Both Heather and Nikki now have two kids of their own. They say that it’s hard sometimes to accept that they have to go on without Morgan.
It’s tough to guess what kind of kids she would have. Nicole said, “You know, we didn’t get to see her grow up.”
“It’s become a part of me over the years.” The person or thing is different, and I accept that. It will always be a part of me, Stacey said.
“My daughter was born just now.” I think she’s 37 days old today. Glen told her, “Her name is Charlotte Morgan, and she’s pretty.” She will never meet her older sister, but he named her after her.
“Sometimes it feels like it was a completely separate life; it was a movie, a book, but there are a lot of times it feels like it was yesterday, where it feels so real,” Nikki said.
But Morgan’s family won’t let her become just another sad story.
“We want folks to remember her. But we don’t just want people to remember what happened with her. Nicole said, “She was a person.”
“She was a pretty little girl.” And she had a very bad thing happen. We miss her all the time. “It doesn’t get any better,” Heather said.
“I lost faith and the part of being human.” “But on this journey I’m on, I’ve met a lot of great people,” Stacey said.
Morgan’s mom says that one of those people was FBI Agent Dick Glenn. In 1996, he was put in charge of her case, and he’s still trying to solve it today.
“Does time make it harder to solve the case?” Most likely. We’re not giving up, though. Agent Glenn said, “We hope we can catch the person who did this.”
As soon as Morgan was taken, people started to wonder who could have done something so bad. At the time, Morgan’s dad, Glen Violi, was one of their main suspects.
“I lost my balance. Could you tell me what to do?” When Glen told WBKO, he was crying.
“The amount of kindness was amazing.” There was also a lot of talk, or gossip. It hurt us a lot. “We had to defend our parents all the time,” Heather said.
When Morgan was taken, Glen and Stacey Violi (now Pulliam) were getting a divorce. At the time she was taken, Glen was supposed to be at a custody hearing. This made him a person of interest in the case. Glen says there was a mix-up and that his lawyer told him he didn’t need to be at the hearing.
“I didn’t know I was supposed to be in court that day; that’s not why I left early; I didn’t even know I was supposed to be in court. Lots of people think that, ‘Oh, he was supposed to be in court and now his kid turned up missing,’ and I can see why they think that, especially the way it was presented to them. It was called the Colony Apartments at the time, but it is now called the Ashton Parc Apartments. When I pulled up, I saw police and lots of other people. I knew something was wrong. Stacey came up to me and said, “Someone kidnapped Morgan.” I asked, “What do you mean? They took Morgan.” That’s when she started crying, she was so upset.”
It doesn’t mean that everyone believes him, Violi says, even though he was found not guilty.
“A lot of people thought I did it, and some still do. Some people in my family thought I was involved. I had to tell my grandfather where his granddaughter was when he called me.
Glen says his life changed a lot after he was named a suspect.
“I got to the point where I was living in a building out back of my buddy’s house because I couldn’t find a job, nobody wanted to work with me, nobody wanted anything to do with me because I was ‘that guy’.”
Some people still have doubts about Glen, but not his daughters.
“I know people make mistakes, and I know they were having a hard time. Do I blame them?” Without a doubt not. “I know for sure that they didn’t do it physically,” Nikki told WBKO. “Do I think my dad could hurt her?” Without a doubt not. “Certainly not,” Heather said.
There are also things Glen thinks about the case.
“I firmly believe the only reason they didn’t find out what happened was because they were too busy following me around.”
They are still trying to figure out who k*illed Morgan Violi, but it is getting harder for them as time goes on.
“Finding out where someone is 20 years later gets harder and harder.” “Some people made it hard enough around the time of the crime,” Agent Glenn said. He does say that there was progress, though.
“We’ve ruled out some people as suspects, but we’re still looking at other people as suspects, and not just local ones.” We look into every child abduction case in the US that seems like it might be related to this one.
The FBI has also done some investigations in the area. Former Chief Bill Waltrip is no longer working as a police officer, but he says it’s hard for everyone who works on cases like this to let go.
“When you see another kidnapping, the recent event in Scottsville brings back all those memories, and I think that’s what most police officers do.” Do they remember everything that takes place? “No, but in this case, it would be hard for anyone to let go.”
“Not long ago, something happened in our community, a community close to us [referring to the mu*rder in Scottsville, KY in November 2015], and someone was caught at that moment.” Nikki said, “I think that gives us a false sense of hope.” She also said that she feels like she knows what happened to that family. “Don’t act like a victim. You don’t need to feel sorry for yourself. But it’s hard not to sometimes. When I read stories about similar events, I used to become obsessed with them because they were the only ones who could relate it to my own life.
There were a lot of questions and links between the Violi case and a crime that happened in Scottsville in November 2015. Two of Morgan’s sisters looked the kidnapper straight in the eye almost 20 years ago. The two events are not thought to be linked.
“I did help draw them.” And there was a lot of stress to do well. I was scared. I would remember, go back, remember, and go back. There are times when I see his face all the time. I’m not sure, though. I wouldn’t say I know him today if I saw him. Heather said, “It’s been 20 years.”
“I think I want it to be Timothy Madden,” he said. Madden is charged with murd*er in Scottsville. I don’t think it is, though. I hope it is. She said, “But no, I don’t think we’ll ever know.”
The FBI says they couldn’t ignore how much the two cases were alike.
“Well, I can’t say anything about a specific suspect or someone who might become a suspect.” Agent Glenn said, “Based on the facts of the case that Timothy Madden is charged with, you do need to look into him. But other than that, I can’t say anything specific about any other suspect.”
The family says that time doesn’t always heal.
“It doesn’t help with anything.” “It’s getting used to it,” Heather said.
Even if the suspect is caught, the 19 years of pain will still be there.
“I think some people might say that there’s some closure there, but there’s no closure, there’s not.” At least until someone is arrested, which Waltrip hopes will still happen.
“I hope he’s going through hell on his own. Nikki said, “Because he made hell for us.”
It would be justice for some, but not for Stacey.
“There’s nothing we could do to this person that would even come close to making them feel how we feel.” It won’t bring her back. It won’t get rid of the last 19 years. “No, that’s not fair. That will never be fair to me again.”
The man who kidnapped and k*illed Morgan Violi is still being sought by the FBI. If you know anything about this case, you can call the FBI at (270) 781-4734.
“She was a pretty little girl.” And she had a very bad thing happen. We miss her all the time. It’s not getting better.