Investigative Unit: Missing toddler cold case reopened
CLINTON - This week, family members of a missing toddler who vanished from our area will mark a somber anniversary. Wesley Dale Morgan disappeared without a trace in Clinton 13 years ago.
Tonight there's a renewed effort to find him. The FBI plans to release an updated age progression photo of him to show what he would look like today.
Morgan's disappearance on May 15, 2001 sparked an unprecedented search. Search crews from around the state, region and nation fanned out looking for a precious toddler, who slipped away from the sight of his caregivers.
Morgan was last seen at a house in Clinton, off Highway 63 near Bluff Creek.
"I was there," Detective Don McKey said. "It was long hours. We searched the woods for a full week on horses. Volunteers from all over the parish came in to search for Wesley."
East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Detective Don McKey remembers the grueling nature of the search, which left the quiet community of Clinton perplexed. Detectives initially thought Wesley Dale Morgan's mother, Ruby Renee Havard, may have had something to do with her son's disappearance. Sheriff Talmadge Bunch weighed in on the issue in 2001.
"In my heart, I think the little boy's alive," Bunch said. "His mother knows where he's at, or knows more than she's telling us about."
But the mother maintained her innocence, and there was never enough evidence to charge her for Wesley's disappearance.
"If I knew that for sure, she would be in jail," Detective McKey said.
Thirteen years later, News 2's Investigative Unit went looking for Ruby Havard at her last known address in Clinton. When no one answered, we managed to track down Morgan's aunt, Mary Dufou, and asked her if she believes Wesley could be alive.
"Yes sir," Dufour said. "That's what I hope and pray for that he's alive. We hope and pray that he returns to us one day. He was a little baby when he went missing at two. He's 15. Three years from being a grown man."
The "missing" posters have been taken down from store fronts in the community, but Clinton has never forgotten Wesley Dale Morgan.
"It's been tough dealing with this, but what holds us on is we will get some good results on this," Dufour said. "We hope and pray."
Those sentiments are also echoed by detectives, who recently gave the case a fresh review.
"Just a month ago, we went back and visited all the scenes we searched last month," McKey said. "We went and revisited with the FBI, just trying to make sure we turn all the rocks over to find Wesley."
As the Clinton community hopes to bring closure to this cold case, Morgan's family and detectives will continue their quest for answers.
"If he sees this, we love him dearly and never gave up on him," Dufour said.
Investigators believe Morgan may have been given away or sold. In 2008, Morgan's mother, Ruby Renee Havard was charged for trying to sell one of her other children, but those charges were dropped that same year.
If you know any information that could help detectives solve the case of Wesley Dale Morgan, call the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office at 225-683-5459. Wesley Dale Morgan may go by the name "Dean."