Wednesday, June 14, 2000

1st-year college student missing

Moeller grad disappeared in Ga. last month

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        He's just not the kind of kid to disappear.

        Joe Morse got good grades, gets along with his family and had his first engi neering co-op job lined up for this fall. All that leaves his Landen parents wondering what happened to the 18-year-old son they haven't seen since Easter.

        Mr. Morse, a 1999 graduate of Moeller High School and successful cross-country and track runner there, was last seen May 6 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, where he was a freshman studying mechani cal engineering. Friends thought he was on his way to the shower to get ready to move out of the dorm. They had celebrated the end of the school year the night before.

        Investigators now think Mr. Morse left the campus then, with only the clothes he was wearing, his wallet and glasses, said his mother, Debbie Morse. About 21/2 hours later, he was photographed by an ATM at a mall. He withdrew his last $120.

        He was scheduled to come home that day — on a cheap standby flight if he could get one, on a bus if he couldn't. He has not contacted his parents or any friends since.

        School officials have checked into his recent academic performance. They found he had quit going to English class six weeks before and had skipped other classes and projects, too.

        “Our gut feeling is that he was depressed and homesick and just was totally overwhelmed,” his mother said Tuesday. “But we want to say to him, "You're our son. You're always going to be our son. And there's nothing that can't be worked out.'”

        Mr. Morse did well in his first semester, earning a 3.4 grade-point average, Mrs. Morse said. He did not let on that anything was wrong recently, she said, except to say that he was homesick.

        Anyone with information about Mr. Morse is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 352-3040 or Georgia Tech Police at (404) 894-9966.


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