Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hunting Humans

Unexpected Discovery

The state motto for Alaska is "North to the Future," but if you ask anyone who has ever been there, they will probably describe it as the last American frontier. Even though it is the biggest state in the country (2.3 times the size of Texas) the population consists of only 634,892 residents, ranking it 47 among all other U.S. territories. Nonetheless, there is no other place like it on earth. The terrain consists of beautiful ocean coasts, rushing rivers, magnificent mountain peaks, famous glaciers, temperate rain forests, and an abundance of wildlife. A piece of America that continues to offer residents and visitors alike a pure wilderness experience.

Map of Alaska, showing Anchorage and the Knik River valley area
Map of Alaska, showing Anchorage
and the Knik River valley area

The Knik River valley is a preferred hunting ground for veteran trophy hunters. Just twenty-five miles from the city of Anchorage, the winding gorge—carved by prehistoric glacial ice—makes it a perfect place to find mountain goats, Dall sheep, black bears, and moose. On September 12, 1982, John Daily and Audi Holloway, two off-duty Anchorage police officers, spent an afternoon hunting along the Knik River.

According to Butcher Baker by Walter Gilmour and Leland E. Hale, the two men had little luck and as darkness began to fall they decided to call it a day. The trek was not necessarily easy, but both men were familiar with the area and cut across a wide sandbar. However, as they progressed up the river, they noticed a boot sticking out of the sand. Normally a find like this would not be cause for concern, but for any police officer, curiosity denotes investigation. Upon closer inspection, the two men were taken aback. Sticking out of the sand was a partially decomposed bone joint. Once their minds registered what they were looking at, both men backed up from the scene. The last thing they wanted to do was disturb or contaminate any evidence. After making note of the location, both men made their way out of the gorge and back to their camp.

Gilmour and Hale wrote that Sergeant Rollie Port was assigned to cover the investigation. A decorated Vietnam veteran, Port was considered one of the top investigators on the force. He was meticulous with every crime scene and was known to spend hours going over the smallest area. Before disturbing the body, Port had photographs taken from every angle and carefully examined the body itself for trace evidence before having it bagged. Afterwards, he pulled out a large screen and began sifting through the sand around the body. It took several hours for him to finish sifting, but in the end it paid off. Lying on the screen before him was a single shell casing from a .223-caliber bullet. Port was familiar with this type of ammunition and knew that it was used in high-powered rifles like M-16s, Mini-14s, or AR-15s.

Sherry Morrow, victim
Sherry Morrow, victim

Back in Anchorage, a preliminary autopsy revealed that the victim was a female, of undetermined age, and had been dead for approximately six months. The cause of death was three gunshot wounds from .223-caliber bullets. Ace bandages were found mingled in with the remains, causing investigators to suspect that the victim had been blindfolded at the time of death. It took a little over two weeks to finally identify the body as that of 24-year-old Sherry Morrow, a dancer from the Wild Cherry Bar in downtown Anchorage. She was last seen on November 17, 1981. According to friends, she was going to see a man that had offered her $300 to pose for some pictures.

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