Cold case reopened into suicide of woman, 22, found hanged in hotel room following fight with fiancé on New Year’s Eve
By LOUISE BOYLE
The suicide of a young woman three years ago was to be re-examined by a cold case team after her mother refused to accept her daughter had taken her own life and relentlessly pursued the belief that someone had murdered her daughter.
Sheena Morris, 22, hanged herself in a Florida hotel room on New Year’s Day 2009, hours after she reportedly fought with her 48-year-old fiancé Joe Genoese.
However Miss Morris’s mother Kelly Osborn has continually criticized the police work and hired her own team of private investigators, claiming that her daughter’s death was staged.
Now a specialist cold case unit in Florida has announced that they would review the death of the New York-born woman.
Ms Osborn and Sheena’s father David Morris, have long believed that their daughter was killed and the hanging in the bathroom at Bridge Walk Resort on Anna Maria Island staged.
She told Fox News: ‘The shower was dusted. There were no fingerprints, not even hers.’
Prior to Miss Morris’s body being found, guests in the next room had dialed 911 around 1am on January 1 to report a domestic disturbance from the couple’s hotel room.
Mr Genoese then reportedly left the hotel and returned to his apartment in Tampa, an hour’s drive away.
According to the account on the family’s website, Justice4sheena.com, Miss Morris called the police department close to her home in Hillsborough County at 2am because she wanted officers to check it over.
In a taped recording, a young woman’s voice can be heard saying that he was ‘going to ruin her apartment because she ruined his life’.
Some 13 hours later, hotel staff heard Miss Morris’s dogs barking in her hotel room and called police. Her body was discovered in the bathroom.
Her fiancé Joe Genoese was not named as a person of interest in Miss Morris’s death as the tenant of his Tampa apartment, Marcos Claudio had seen him that night.
A team of 15 forensic experts, who were not involved with the original case, will now work with the local Bradenton Police Department to go over evidence and review witness accounts from the tragic death in 2009.
Chief of police Sam Speciale said they would work with the task force but said crime scene evidence still pointed to a suicide and he stood by that verdict.
However he added: ‘If (the team) looks at it and finds something that we didn’t see, or that the other agencies didn’t see, that’s great. That’s why we’re here.’
The chief medical examiner for the Florida district changed the 26-year-old’s cause of death from suicide to undetermined, as the theory that her death may have been staged destabilized his original verdict.
The cold case team, which was not reopening but ‘reviewing’ the suicide according to police, will make its findings in around two months.
Trouble: Miss Morris and Mr Genoese were reported by other hotel guests for fighting in the hours before she was found dead