Crime

NJ dad arrested in death of girl tossed in creek

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
 U.S. Marshals in San Diego arrest
27-year-old Arthur Morgan III on Tuesday, November 29, 2011. He is charged with the murder of  his 2-year-old daughter, Tierra Morgan-Glover.

U.S. Marshals in San Diego arrest 27-year-old Arthur Morgan III on Tuesday, November 29, 2011. He is charged with the murder of his 2-year-old daughter, Tierra Morgan-Glover.

A New Jersey man suspected of killing his 2-year-old daughter by tossing her into a creek while she was still strapped in her car seat has been captured in California.

The U.S. Marshals Service in San Diego confirmed that 27-year-old Arthur Morgan III was arrested Tuesday afternoon.

Steve Jurman, the office's supervising deputy, said Morgan was captured at a home in San Diego around 4:30 p.m. PST.

Jurman said his office got a tip from New Jersey authorities that Morgan might be at the home, and surveillance was conducted there for most of the day. Morgan was then spotted on the home's back porch and, after a brief period where it appeared he might try to flee, Morgan was captured without incident.

He was taken to the San Diego County jail, where he will remain pending extradition proceedings. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

Monmouth County, N.J., prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw Jr. issued a statement Tuesday night confirming the arrest and thanking the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement authorities that were involved in the search for Morgan, who also faces charges of child endangerment and interfering with custody in neighboring Ocean County.

Morgan was the subject of a nationwide manhunt and had been featured on the website of "America's Most Wanted."

He is charged with the murder of Tierra Morgan-Glover on Nov. 21. Her body was found partially submerged in a creek near a roadway overpass in Shark River Park in Wall Township, N.J., about 20 miles north of her Lakehurst home. Her cause of death was listed as "homicidal violence, including submersion in water."

The FBI and the U.S. Marshals office were among several agencies searching for Tierra's father, who was last seen on a train station platform in Asbury Park, N.J., not far from the park where his daughter's body would later be discovered.

The girl's mother, Imani Benton, called police after Morgan failed to return the child from a court-ordered visit. She learned of his arrest when she arrived at a friend's home on Tuesday night and heard people cheering.

Everybody was outside yelling and screaming - they were like, `They got him. They got him,"' Benton told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune. "I couldn't get out of the car. I just had to sit and let the tears fall for a minute."

Benton said she was hoping that justice would be served.

"I hope that my story and my situation can prevent another mother going through what I have to go through," Benton said. "It doesn't matter what a person does in the streets, you never know what they are going through behind closed doors."

At least 13 law enforcement agencies in and around New Jersey participated in the search for Morgan, covering airports, train stations, bus depots, and highway bridges and tunnels. He had an apartment in Eatontown, N.J. but had been staying on and off with a friend in Ocean Township, N.J., adjacent to Asbury Park.

An obituary prepared by the church at which her funeral was held gave the child's full name as Tierra La'Shae Camaya Morgan-Glover, "a bright-eyed little girl with a warm smile." Clergy there said Tierra quickly became known as "the church baby" because her radiant smile and warm personality were so noticeable to anyone who attended services there.

They said she enjoyed singing, loved mathematics, and was a quick learner.

Shipkowski reported from Trenton, N.J., and Petski reported from Los Angeles.

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Associated Press writer Wayne Parry in Asbury Park, N.J., contributed to this report.

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