Friday, May 25, 2018
Public safety

Pregnant St. Petersburg teen's disappearance called ominous

ST. PETERSBURG — The twin bed's polka-dotted comforter is tossed haphazardly over rainbow-striped sheets. The walls are fuchsia, a child's stuffed Eeyore dolls look every which way.

This is where Leah Martin comes to talk to her daughter.

"Come on, Morgan, this has got to be the day," she says. "Today, you're going to come home. You've got to. I don't know if I can do this anymore."

Morgan Keyanna Martin, 17, has been missing for 10 days.

The pregnant teen vanished from her St. Petersburg home without anything but a cellphone. Police have declared her disappearance disconcerting and continue to investigate. So far, they haven't found much.

"We don't have any evidence of an abduction, no evidence of a homicide or an assault," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz. "We just have a set of circumstances that strike a very ominous tone."

So every day, Leah Martin talks to the emptiness.

"Even if she's dead, if it's come to that point, I just want to find her," said Martin, 43. "Dead or alive, I just want her home."

Morgan was last seen sitting in a brown armchair just inside the family's front door at 2808 17th Ave. S.

It was late, about 12:20 a.m. on July 25, and she was on her cellphone. As usual.

Morgan told her mother and older sister she was going outside to talk to someone. Then she walked out the front door wearing fuzzy pink slippers, pajama pants and a white tank top.

She never returned.

In the morning, friends and family began to call, text, try to reach her on Facebook. No one answered.

Martin said her phone bill shows that Morgan received more than 1,000 calls from concerned family and friends the first day she was gone.

"There's obviously some concern that this just doesn't seem right," Puetz said. "Scenarios like this usually don't have a positive outcome."

A witness told investigators he saw a white car parked in the home's driveway that night, but it is unknown whether Martin ever approached or got into that vehicle, Puetz said.

No one has heard from the teen since she walked out her front door. This, Martin said, is nothing like her daughter.

"I hear from her three, four, five times a day when I'm at work; she calls me all the time," Martin said. "She's not a runaway. I know my daughter. She won't go anywhere without letting somebody know."

She did run away from home once when she was 15. She went to a friend's house and called her sister, Sierra Cahill. Police picked her up within a day.

"She told me where she was, then said, 'Don't tell Mom,' " said Cahill, 20. "That's how she was. She could never just disappear."

Detectives with the Police Department's Crimes Against Children division have not found evidence of foul play, Puetz said. After interviewing friends, family and the father of Morgan's unborn daughter, investigators consulted with homicide detectives. But it's still a missing-person case, Puetz said.

Morgan lives with her sister, their mother and a friend of the family, Roneisha Wynn, 19.

The three have spent the past week swapping Morgan stories and trying to keep one another's spirits raised. They've also taken turns blaming themselves, each saying they should have gone after her the night she vanished.

Martin wishes she could have taught her daughter to trust less.

"I used to tell her all the time, you have got to quit thinking the best in everybody or we're going to find you dead in a ditch one day," Martin said.

Morgan is 5 feet 2, 175 pounds, and is of mixed race but appears Hispanic, police said. She has black hair, brown eyes and was last seen wearing a white tank top, a pink jacket with fur around the hood, gray bottoms and fuzzy pink slippers.

Times staff writer Dan Sullivan contributed to this report.

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