Real Name: Joseph Eli Morrow
Aliases: Joe Morrow
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: June 24, 1993
Details: When Donna Morrow met her first husband Joe, he appeared to be an ideal partner: charming, wealthy and kind. Within months of meeting, they were married. They soon started a large and loving family that they always wanted. They moved into a luxurious home in Menlo Park, California and Donna became a mother and housewife. For thirteen years, Donna appeared happy with her family. However, during Thanksgiving in 1991, she told her mother, Shirley Rubio, that she was done with Joe and was planning to divorce him after the holidays. According to her friends, he was possessive and abusive. Her family believed that he was arrogant and condescending.
A few weeks later, on Christmas Day, the Rubios called the Morrows to wish them a Merry Christmas, but Joe told them that Donna had left several days earlier after having an argument. When interviewed by the Menlo Park police, he claimed that she had abruptly left after an argument at around 10PM on December 19, 1991, taking her purse and keys. Detectives thought it was strange that she didn't take her car when she left. Joe had no explanation for it. He maintained that Donna had left him and their four children voluntarily to start a new life.
He also believed that she was having an affair. An investigation revealed that she did have a close "friendship" with another man. Police discovered that she had called the man at 7:30PM on the night of her disappearance. He claimed that she wanted to meet him that night. However, he declined. The man provided an alibi and passed a lie detector. He was ruled out as a suspect.
The Morrow's eight-year-old daughter told detectives that around 9:30PM on December 19, she heard her parents yelling at each other. The yelling got quieter and quieter and then stopped completely. She then heard one of them storming out the front door, but she couldn't tell which one. She said later that night she saw her father asleep in bed alone. Despite Joe's insistence that Donna left voluntarily, her family and friends believed that she had met with foul play. They believe Joe was responsible, especially because he was violent and abusive towards Donna. Also, they didn't believe that Donna would leave with another man just weeks before she was planning to divorce.
Police searched the Morrow residence and found a suspicious blood splatter on the side of a bucket in the garage. The blood didn't match Joe or the children, but without a sample of Donna's blood to test, they couldn't prove it was hers. Three weeks later, at a motel room ninety miles from the Morrow home, Joe was found unconscious. He suffered from an overdose of barbiturates and was surrounded by numerous suicide notes addressed to several friends and relatives. Interestingly, none were addressed to his "missing" wife Donna. However, none of the notes mentioned her disappearance, either. He soon recovered from the overdose and continued to deny involvement in Donna's disappearance.
Two years later, Donna's family, on behalf of her children, sued Joe Morrow in civil court for wrongful death. At the same time Morrow pleaded guilty on an unrelated fraud charge. He was scheduled to surrender on June 24, 1993, but never showed up and has not been seen since. Afterwards, his estate settled the wrongful death suit for $2 million. Guardianship of the Morrow children was given to Joe's brother and sister-in-law. Finally, in 1997, an arrest warrant was issued for Joe Morrow on the murder of his wife Donna, although her body was never found.
Her family and friends believe that Joe became enraged after her found out that she was leaving and seeing another man. They believe that he killed her, dragged her to the garage, and then drove away with her body, burying it in an unknown location. Now, police hope to find both Donna's remains and her husband, Joe Morrow.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the August 27, 2002 episode.
Results: Captured. After a decade on the run, Joe Morrow was finally arrested living in the Philippines on January 14, 2003. He was brought back on an unrelated fraud charge and the murder warrant. In September of 2003, a tip led police to Donna's remains which were found on the property the family once owned in Los Gatos. As a result, Joe was charged with her murder. Prosecutors believed that Joe killed his wife because she was planning on divorcing him and taking half of their financial resources. His previous wife claimed that he had violently assaulted her when she asked for a divorce. In September of 2007, shortly before his trial was set to begin, he pleaded no contest to 2nd degree murder along with seven counts of assault. He was sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison and will not be eligible for parole until 2024.
- Joe Morrow on Unsolved Archive
- Arrest Warrant Issued For Menlo Park Man
- Tip leads to body of Donna Morrow -- missing for 12 years
- Missing woman is found dead / 12 year old Menlo Park Case
- Pretrial hearing in 1991 slaying
- Man to stand trial in wife's 1991 death
- Morrow defies attorney, pleads 'no contest' to murder
- Menlo Park man pleads no contest in wife's slaying
- Dad gets 25 to life for killing wife - kids beg for parole