Investigation continues into death of young mom found inside burning car in Gallatin


GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — The investigation into Morgan Stocks’ death remains open more than seven months after her death.

The 21-year-old was found in her burning 2015 Chevy Cruze at the Sumner County Board of Education Building around 1:30 a.m. on December 15, 2018.

A nearby homeowner dialed 911 when he awoke to popping noises and saw a fire. He originally thought the building’s dumpster was on fire.

When investigators got on scene, they found the car and Morgan Stocks in the back seat.

“Gallatin Police said she probably got back there to sleep it off until morning because her phone was dead,” said Morgan’s father, Jimbo Stewart.

Morgan’s phone died while she was at Brewster’s Bar and Grille with a friend. The friend had found out her fiance was cheating on her, so Morgan took her out for a good time.

The women got there around 8:00 p.m. and left a little after 11:00 p.m.

Morgan told the friend she was going home but instead, ended up 20 miles away from the bar in the parking lot of the Sumner County Board of Education building.

No one knows why Morgan was in Gallatin, why she was in the back seat, or what she was doing from about 11:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m.

“From the time she left to the time she was found, they have no footage of her after leaving the bar,” said Morgan’s brother-in-law, Justen Atwell. “Police said it was just a tragic accident but how did we get there?”

A Medical Examiner ruled Morgan’s death accidental. The cause of death was smoke inhalation.

The autopsy shows there was no trauma to Morgan’s body, no signs of strangulation and that her blood alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit.

News 2 gave the autopsy to forensic anthropologist Tony Falsetti. He believes Morgan had been alive when the car was on fire, and that it burned for a while because of the soot found in her lungs.

“The person was alive and breathing, whether they were conscious or not, and so they aspirated whatever material was in the air around them,” Falsetti told News 2.

There were burn fractures found in her bones but Falsetti said that is typical in a fire.

Gallatin police aren’t completely sure how the fire started, though arson investigators believe it originated from the engine.

Morgan’s car was running.

Investigators also believe Morgan may have been driving through the parking lot of the Sumner County School building and couldn’t see a set of stairs, which is level with the parking lot. Her car was also close to a brick wall so she likely wouldn’t have been able to open her door.

“Climbing in the backseat makes very little sense in terms of someone trying to get away,” said Falsetti.

Gallatin investigators have made it clear that they’re not entirely sure when Morgan got into the back seat – before or after the fire.

With so little information, Morgan’s family and the police want answers.

“There’s more to the story and we don’t have the answers,” said Atwell.

“I cry about it every day. What can you do? Just hope God takes care of her,” said Stewart. “She was a beautiful kid, full of life. She loved. She was my rock.”

Morgan leaves behind a young son and husband.

If you have any information that can help investigators understand Morgan’s case, you’re urged to call the Gallatin Police Department at (615) 452-1313.

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