A small town community in Arkansas was robbed of its sense of safety after 6-year-old Morgan Nick went missing from a little league baseball game on June 9, 1995.
Since then, thousands of tips have flooded in to the police department and sightings have even been reported — none of which have lead investigators to an answer.
It’s been 24 years since that tragic day, but Morgan’s case still remains unsolved.
What happened on the day of Morgan Nick’s disappearance?
“June 9, 1995 started out just like any other day,” Colleen Nick, Morgan’s mother, told the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “We got up, the kids played all day, we had grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner that night before we came to the ballgame to spend time with our friends, and we literally didn’t realize that within a few minutes our lives would be forever changed.”
Morgan Nick and her family lived in Ozark, Arkansas. On June 9, 1995, they were invited to a family friend’s little league baseball game 24 miles away in a small town called Alma.
As the sun set, the fireflies began to flicker across the ballpark. Two of Morgan’s friends, Jessica, 8, and Tye, 10, asked her if she wanted to go catch them on a nearby hill.
Nick agreed to let Morgan go after a friend assured her that children had been running back and forth all night long.
The three children headed up the hill and began to play in the sand and dirt. After a while, the children walked back toward the field but decided to empty the sand out of their shoes in the parking lot before joining the adults again.
Jessica later recalled a man leaning against his truck saying something to them as they passed by him, but couldn’t remember exactly what was said.
As Jessica and Tye emptied their shoes on the front of one car, Morgan sat on her mom’s car to empty her own.
Soon after, Colleen Nick looked over and only saw Jessica and Tye, so she walked over and asked where her daughter was. The two friends said she was cleaning out her shoes, but Morgan was not where her friends had last seen her.
What happened after Morgan’s disappearance?
Law enforcement arrived on the scene and began looking for the red truck with a camper shell that Morgan’s friends remembered seeing earlier. A composite sketch of the suspect was later released.
While Morgan’s case has received thousands of tips and hundreds of reported sightings over the years, no solid evidence leading to her location or the identity of her abductor has been found.
Her family, however, continues to search and fight for her.
Has the suspect in Morgan’s case been caught?
While the suspect responsible for Morgan’s disappearance has not been caught, two other attempted abductions occurred in the area around the same time that Morgan was taken.
According to KFSM, a 4-year-old little girl, also in Alma, was almost taken earlier on June 9, 1995, but was saved by her mother after the girl began screaming. The description of the suspect was similar to the description of the man investigators believe took Morgan.
One day later, a 9-year-old girl in nearby Fort Smith, Arkansas, reported that a man unsuccessfully tried to lure her into the men’s restroom with him. That man’s description was also similar to the description of the suspect in Morgan’s case.
The suspect has not yet been caught, but organized searches for Morgan still continue to this day.
What impact has Morgan’s disappearance had on the local community?
Morgan Nick’s disappearance, much like those of Etan Patz and Adam Walsh, shed a light on areas that needed to be improved in both local and national efforts to find missing children. The impact her case has had on the thousands of missing children since 1995 is immeasurable.
Local Law Enforcement
Alma Police Department Chief Russell White was appointed just under a year before Morgan went missing. According to Chief White, the Morgan Nick case pushed the small town police department to improve processes.
“It was a terrible price to pay because of what happened, but the department garnered knowledge that continued to be an asset to the city from that time on,” he told the Press Argus-Courier in 2016.
Morgan’s case also led the state of Arkansas to be the first state to create regional Child Abduction Response Teams, also referred to as CARTs. Governor Asa Hutchinson signed House Bill 1674 into law on May 3, 2019. Colleen Nick was also there that day.
Morgan Nick Foundation
While searching for her daughter, Colleen Nick identified a need for families of missing children. In 1996, she founded a non-profit called the Morgan Nick Foundation in honor of her eldest daughter.
Nick’s goal for the Morgan Nick Foundation was to provide additional resources and support to families of missing children, to help children and parents recognize and prevent potential abduction scenarios, and to partner with law enforcement to help bring missing kids home.
The Morgan Nick Foundation is now providing support for families in Arkansas, Oklahoma and across the nation — support that Colleen said her family didn’t have in 1995.
“Fortunately for us, we had an excellent law enforcement team that really stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us and educated us about what was happening, but we definitely didn’t have peer support, mentoring support, non-profit support. It didn’t exist here in Arkansas,” Nick told Liftable, a section of The Western Journal.
“As we tried to figure out, during our fight for Morgan, what do we do next?” she continued. “It was kind of, for us, was a no-brainer to say we want to put some resources in place for families that we didn’t have.”
The Morgan Nick Foundation also helps train law enforcement teams across the nation so that they can be better equipped to help bring missing children home.
“What we know is that in the first two hours that the child is taken, if the child was taken with the intention that they’re going to be killed, the likelihood of that happens within the first two hours,” Nick said.
“So what we want law enforcement to do is to be ready from that very first moment so they can rescue that child and bring them home and we’re not on the back end saying what if we had done something else.”
If you have any information regarding Morgan Nick’s disappearance, please contact the Alma Police Department at 479-632-3333.
Liftable, a section of The Western Journal, is sharing unsolved cases, like Morgan’s, in hopes of keeping these stories alive and encouraging anyone with new information to contact the proper authorities. To read more of our “Unsolved” series, click here.
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