Police Crack Case Of Ohio Mother Fatally Shot While Leaving Home For Her FedEx Job
“I thought monsters weren’t real, but you proved me wrong,” the victim’s young daughter told the killer in court.
Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "Caught in the Net")
A young mother in Ohio was fatally shot as she prepared to head to her job at a FedEx facility. Police would methodically comb through everything from her telephone to video surveillance footage to identify and hunt down the killer.
On the rainy morning of Oct. 28, 2020, the boyfriend of Morgan Fox called 911 after he found her dead in her vehicle in the driveway of their Plain Township home. She had been shot twice in the head.
Investigators recovered the 29-year-old victim’s cell phone from the ground near her car. “It’s a very crucial piece of evidence for us because there’s so much data and information we can extract from those,” says Sgt. Craig Kennedy of the Stark County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Kennedy, police spoke with Morgan’s boyfriend, Jason, who said he and Fox had been living together for about a year. According to Jason, Morgan usually woke up around 1 a.m. and left for her job at FedEx about an hour or so later.
The day of Morgan’s murder, Jason said he got out of bed for the day around 6 a.m. When he looked out the window, he spotted Morgan’s vehicle still in the driveway. He found her body after he went to investigate.
Patrol deputies canvassed the neighborhood and collected multiple Ring doorbell videos, but they found nothing that provided answers. Morgan’s cell phone, however, proved to be a treasure trove of information.
Now-retired Stark County Sheriff’s Office Det. Rocco Ross went through the device looking for any potential evidence he could find. “Scrolling through her messages, you see a good relationship between Morgan and her fiancé, Jason,” he said.
During questioning, however, Jason indicated not all of Morgan’s relationships were so positive. He explained Morgan had been having trouble with several male coworkers in particular. Almost 20 days before death, Morgan sent Jason a message saying the coworkers had taken her phone and gone through its contents, which included intimate photographs, according to Det. Ross.
As Morgan’s boyfriend, Jason, increasingly became less of a suspect, police now had three new suspects they needed to look into.
On Morgan’s phone, police discovered one of the men had sent her multiple messages with romantic overtures. The texts showed she shot the man down, explaining she was engaged and lived with her boyfriend. The man, Sgt. Kennedy said, seemed to back off after that.
Police then looked into the messages involving another of the three coworkers, Jason Alan McDermitt, and they brought him in for questioning. McDermitt denied he wanted to pursue a relationship with Morgan, and he gave police consent to search through his phone. His location history showed the device never left his apartment during the time Morgan was likely killed.
Officers eventually were able to rule out two of Morgan’s coworkers, but McDermitt remained a suspect despite his location history.
Then, police recovered a vital clue: video of McDermitt at a carwash after Morgan’s murder. In the footage, he thoroughly cleans his Ford Focus hatchback, but he appears to be especially concerned about his front passenger-side wheel.
At the crime scene following Morgan’s murder, investigators noticed tire tracks in the grass as well as mud splatter on a nearby fence. A crash reconstructionist took measurements of the tire tracks. Det. Ross says that “all of the measurements that came back — the tire width, the wheel base, the front right-wheel drive — all of these things matched McDermitt’s vehicle.”
Police began surveilling McDermitt and spoke with his friends. “They were all aware of the incident that occurred on Oct. 8 with him taking Morgan’s phone,” Kennedy says. “They were all aware that Morgan had kind of discontinued that relationship or friendship and every one of them said that he was very distraught about that.”
The friends, according to Ross, said McDermitt’s behavior had changed and he was becoming “consumed, wanting Morgan to be back in his life.”
More troubling evidence emerged in the case. Data extracted from McDermitt’s phone indicated he had thousands of videos and photos stored on the device. It turned out that many were of Morgan. In the summer of 2020, police say, McDermitt secretly was filming her while she worked at the FedEx facility. On another occasion, he recorded video of Morgan without her knowledge as they talked in her kitchen when he visited her home.
“We didn’t have a lot of physical evidence, but what we did have was a pattern that he was showing that indicated he was more than infatuated with Morgan; he was obsessed with her,” Sgt. Kennedy says. “It indicated that Jason McDermitt finally realized that he was not going to get that relationship with Morgan Fox, and when he realized that, he was not going to allow her to have that relationship with anyone else.”
Police then obtained video from an intersection leading to Morgan’s house that showed McDermitt’s Ford Focus at 1:38 a.m. the day of the murder. The vehicle then was seen on camera again at 2:17 a.m., this time heading back in the direction of his residence.
McDermitt was arrested and later convicted of aggravated murder and menacing by stalking.
At his sentencing hearing, Morgan’s daughter, now 11, addressed McDermitt in court. “I wish she could see me graduate from high school. I wish she could see me get married,” the little girl told him about her mother.
“You made it so she can’t do any of these. I thought monsters weren’t real, but you proved me wrong,” she continued, noting, “You hurt so many people. You hurt me and the people I love. You ruined your own life because of how much of a bad person you are.”
McDermitt is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Stream more episodes of Caught in the Net on Max.