CARBONDALE — As 18-year-old Mike Morrison got ready to pick up his date for the Mascoutah High School prom on May 3, 1969, Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” played on the record player.
“Don't go 'round tonight, It's bound to take your life, There's a bad moon on the rise …”
His brother, Ed Morrison, who was also preparing to go to prom, said it was Mike’s favorite song.
Mike picked up his date, 15-year-old Debbie Mean, and they danced the night away at prom. After prom, the couple had dinner in Belleville and headed to a party at an abandoned Peabody Coal Co. strip pit. They left at about 2:30 a.m.
It was the last time they were seen alive.
Ed and Mindy Morrison, former Du Quoin residents, have written a book that chronicles the murder case, the trial and the emotions of the Morrison family through the process.
“This book is really about a family’s journey to justice,” Rex Duncan said when introducing the Morrisons on Thursday afternoon at The Landing in Carbondale.
The book is titled “Bad Moon Rising: The Prom Night Murder Memoirs,” a nod to Mike’s favorite song.
Ed Morrison did not intend to write a book. His wife, Mindy, has written a lot of family stories about the families of her parents, Dawson Duncan and the late Irma Dean Duncan.
“I thought that was what I was doing, writing a 12-page story,” he told those gathered at the program. “It has mushroomed into a book.”
Ed Morrison said Mike was a good-looking guy, a football player and captain of the basketball team. He would have graduated at valedictorian and was headed to SIU to play football.
The two brothers had what Ed calls the “biggest fight of their lives” on May 2.
“Mike and I thought we had time. We thought we had time to make up,” Ed Morrison said.
But was not the case. In the wee hours of May 4, Mike and Debbie were murdered. When Mike did not return from prom, Ed, his sister Cecelia and neighbor Mary Kay Haas searched for Mike and Debbie. They were not successful.
On May 5, Mascoutah Police and Illinois State Police, along with military personnel from Scott Air Force Base and others, searched again. Mike’s white shirt was spotted from the air. Debbie was a short distance from Mike.
It did not take long to identify the most likely suspect, Marshall Wayne Stauffer. He was arrested on May 29, 1969, in Sacramento.
At the time of his arrest, Stauffer had pictures in his possession that linked him to a rape and robbery in Clinton County. St. Clair County State’s Attorney Bob Rice dropped the first-degree murder charges against Stauffer in return for a guilty plea in the Clinton County case and admission of guilt for the murders. He received concurrent sentences of 50 and 30 to 50 years in prison.
He served 21 years for the rape and robbery, but received time off for good behavior. He served just 21 years.
“He wasn’t a rehabilitated prisoner, he was just a serial rapist,” Ed Morrison said. “Within a month, he was looking for prey.”
He added that Stauffer probably had hundreds of victims.
He was caught again, convicted and sent back to prison for good.
“It is a story that is still unfolding in many ways,” Mindy Morrison said.
The couple answered questions after the presentation and signed copies of their book. It is available to purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s website.