BRADENTON BEACH - Nearly five years after it happened, police say they can close the case in the death of Sheena Morris.
She was 22-year-old found dead in a Bradenton Beach motel room, and whose mother says her "journey for justice" has finally ended. Kelly Osborn had refused to believe police's conclusion that her daughter killed herself, and now must live with the review from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement – and the conclusion of the State Attorney's office – that says she did. "Law enforcement has the last word. They did it. And so does the prosecutor. It's done," Osborn said outside her Tampa home Thursday. "And justice has not been done."
After more than a year, the review Osborn fought so hard for, came to the same conclusion that she had fought so hard against – that her daughter hanged herself in a Bradenton Beach motel room New Year's day 2009. “It's really hard to tell people what they don't want to hear sometimes,” says Bradenton Beach Police Sergeant Detective Lenard Diaz, who concluded suicide when he first investigated the case, and the FDLE review cited experts who said that Morris had no signs of head injury or smothering to knock her out to put her in the shower where she died. It also a psychologist's determination that Morris had "multiple risk factors consistent with individuals who commit suicide." In short, the State Attorney and FDLE decided, Diaz had it right from the start. “You can't get vindication from a case like this,” he says.
But one man might.
"Joe Genoese is not a murderer," Osborn concedes now. She had long suspected that Genoese, Morris's fiance, played some role in her death. He said he left Sheena alone, and alive, at the motel after they argued hours before she died. Diaz says he had no reason to suspect him, and says the case gave both of them grief they did not deserve.
“I learned how to take a lot of punches,” Diaz says. “I learned that sometimes regardless of how people feel about certain ways you do your investigation, you're not going to make them happy.”
Osborn remains unhappy. But resigned that she has done all she can, and sure of one thing.
"I know for a fact she didn't commit suicide," she said Thursday.
Diaz says he would not change the way he investigated the case, but says he wished that he could have found a way to keep the lines of communication open with the Osborn family, and maybe that would have brought this conclusion sooner.