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Released by: District Attorney
For Immediate Release

Parole Denied for Murderer of Glen Ellen Teen

Santa Rosa, CA  –  August 31, 2016  –  District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that inmate John Howard Morris III, 61-years-old, who last resided in the town of Sonoma, was denied parole yesterday, following his sixth parole hearing, at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe, CA.  Morris is serving a term of 21 years-to-life for the murder of a 15-year-old Glen Ellen girl.  A second 15-year-old girl was also shot by Morris, but survived her injuries.    

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This inmate is where he belongs.  We are pleased that the Board concurred with our assessment that Mr. Morris poses an unreasonable risk to society should he be released.  His crimes took a terrible toll on the families of the victims and on the community at large, and he was and is deserving of a life sentence.”  

Morris was convicted of Second Degree Murder, as well as the attempted murder of the second teen.  The crimes occurred in 1981.  

Morris, who was then 26-years-old, was driving with two teen male friends in the Sonoma area when they passed the two 15 year old girls, who were hitchhiking.  Morris picked the girls up, and drove to his house, where he provided the teens with alcohol and marijuana.  Later, he drove the boys’ home, but returned to his house with the girls before taking them home, claiming a problem with his truck.  Once there, the girls initially waited in his truck, but Morris then lured one of them into the home saying she had a phone call.  The second teen then heard screams and ran to the door. She told authorities that when she opened the door, Morris was holding the first girl on the floor with the gun in his hand.  Morris shot the girl in the chest, but she managed to run out the door before collapsing and dying in the front yard.  Morris also shot the second girl, hitting her in the arm. He then forced her into the house, pointed the gun at her head, and the girl head a “click,” but the gun did not fire. She ran from the house, and Morris fled out the back.  He was discovered hiding in a wood pile a short time later.  His six shot revolver was found to have five expended cartridges, but the sixth chamber was empty.  

Morris had previously been convicted of a variety of crimes, including shooting another man during a confrontation, for which he was incarcerated for assault with a deadly weapon.  However, Morris, who grew up in Southern California, had been released numerous times after serving short sentences.  He moved to Sonoma County with his wife, and began selling marijuana.  Morris had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse by the time he committed the murder.  

Morris was last denied parole on March 13, 2015, for what was to be a three year denial.  However, he filed a petition for an early parole hearing, in part due to his age, and his hearing date was advanced.  Recent changes in California law known as “elderly parole” rules increase the opportunity for inmates over 60 years old to be released on parole.  

Deputy District Attorney Robert Maddock attended yesterday’s hearing in Blythe, and opposed release for this violent offender.  Victims of Morris’ crimes, including the murdered child’s family members, provided statements opposing parole, which were read during the hearing.  One family member said “I have to relive all this again and again . . . . Letting him go would be a huge injustice to me and my family!  I am left scarred and broken.  Everyday I am reminded of [my sister] and what she would be doing now, if only”  The legal standard that the Board of Parole Hearings uses in making their decision of whether or not to grant parole is whether a prisoner currently poses an unreasonable risk of danger to society if released from prison.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board found that Morris is not suitable for parole at this time. Morris was denied parole for three years, but may then be considered for parole once again, unless the Board advances the date on its own.


Contact Information

Joe Langenbahn
Media Coordinator
Office of the District Attorney
County of Sonoma
Contact us by Phone
600 Administration Drive
Room 212 J
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.466524, -122.726273