Drowning victim had hopes

He saw education as his road to escape troubled past

Staff WriterJuly 18, 2007 

— A man found dead in an apartment complex pond Tuesday morning had apparently drowned within the previous 48 hours, according to Hillsborough police.

Family and friends remember Marquis Morgan, 20, who grew up in Hillsborough, as a handsome young man and jokester who enjoyed reading.

Though he had dropped out of Cedar Ridge High School, he recently got his GED and planned to attend Shaw University in the fall, said family friend Brian Lowen.

Lowen, who is also a Hillsborough town commissioner, ran into Morgan at Wal-Mart recently. He said the young man told him he was trying to leave past troubles with the law behind him and become a productive, responsible adult.

"The last time, he said, 'I just got to go to school, I know it's what I've got to do,' " Lowen said.

A maintenance worker at the Ashford Lakes apartments, formerly Birch Lake Apartments, called 911 about 8:20 a.m., according to Hillsborough police. The apartments' listed address is 600 S. Churton St., across from the minimum-security Orange Correctional Center on what is also commonly called Old N.C. 86.

The worker reported what appeared to be a body in the apartment complex pond. The body was taken to the medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill, and an initial report indicates that Morgan drowned.

Hillsborough police did not return calls Tuesday.

According to a town news release, police last saw Morgan alive early Sunday morning at the Pantry convenience store and gas station next to the pond. Police tried to arrest him on an outstanding shoplifting charge from Durham, the release said, but he ran toward the apartment complex and police lost sight of him. They didn't launch a search because it was a minor charge, Lt. Davis Trimmer said in the release.

On Tuesday afternoon, yellow tape surrounded the pond and the fitness center at the complex. The administrative offices were also closed due to the investigation.

The pond is a popular fishing spot for residents and some visitors, said property manager Sara Phillips, and lots of turtles and geese live in the area.

Stanley Bullock, 17, lives in the complex. He and his buddies have fished in the pond almost every day this summer. Big carp and catfish live in there, though the boys catch and release turtles as well.

"It's peaceful out here," he said.

Morgan had a 2-year-old son whose name and birthdate were tattooed on his chest, according to police.

Staff writer Jessica Rocha can be reached at 932-2008 or jessica.rocha@newsobserver.com.

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