9 05 2008

Police: Morgan Leppert, 15, Brutally Killed Disabled Man

By Adam Kirk

May 7, 2008

WOKV.com

Local News

From being the focus of an Amber Alert to being called a calculated killer, Putnam County cops are painting a dark portrait of 15-year-old Morgan Leppert.

The girl disappeared at the end of April with her 22-year-old boyfriend, and last week was the subject of a nationwide Amber Alert.  It came the day Putnam County Police found a man dead in his Melrose home.

Sheriff Dean Kelly says Leppert wasn’t just a bystander in the death of 66-year-old James Stewart. “She realized that Mr. Stewart was hard of hearing, was physically challenged, and was an elderly man,” said Kelly. “They thought he would be an easy mark, and they needed his truck to get away.”

Kelly says Leppert acted as the ruse by pretending to be having car trouble, to get into Stewart’s home. That’s after she and Toby Lowry, 22, cased the man’s home and learned he had trouble hearing.

“She’s a victim until we’ve proven otherwise… and we’ve proven otherwise,” said Kelly.

Leppert and Lowry are accused of brutally beating, stabbing and suffocating the man, then taking his truck and driving to Cedar Key, Gainesville and Valdosta, before ending up in El Paso, Texas.

Police discovered the crime May 1, and issued the Amber Alert. A motorist saw the pair in Texas and called police, leading to their now being charged with first degree murder.

However, Leppert’s brother, Howard Hunt, told Channel 4 the ordeal has been an emotional roller coaster for the family, but denied the girl had any involvement in the plot.

“Some of the news stories have been portraying her out to be something that she’s not. I mean, she does not have a violent bone in her body. She wouldn’t harm a mouse,” Hunt said.

He said it was around Christmas when his family learned Morgan had been lying about Lowry’s age, telling them that the 22-year-old was only 17.

“My sister is young. She is the type to be easily manipulated. I don’t think that she was there when allegedly the murder took place,” Hunt said.

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