• Suspect in 1986 murder returns to Vermont
    By
     | July 15,2014
     
    Provided photo

    David Morrison is due in court today to face arraignment on a murder charge in Bennington County.

    MANCHESTER — After almost 30 years, David Allan Morrison is expected to be charged with the murder of Sarah Hunter in Bennington criminal court today.

    Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage said Morrison, 54, was taken to the Rutland jail Sunday. He is scheduled to be arraigned today on a charge of first-degree aggravated murder.

    Members of Hunter’s family have been informed about the arraignment so they can attend if they choose, Marthage said.

    Hunter, who was a popular golf pro, was reported missing Sept. 19, 1986. Her body was found in the woods near a rural cornfield more than two months later on Nov. 27.

    Police said Hunter had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

    Morrison has been serving a sentence of 20 years to life in a California prison since 1988 when he pleaded guilty to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and trying to murder a woman in Chula Vista, California.

    In April, a California judge ordered Morrison to return to Vermont from California to face charges. He was picked up by officers with the U.S. Marshals Service on May 30 and has now returned to Vermont for the first time in 16 years.

    Because Morrison is still serving a jail sentence in California, he will not be given a chance to be released on bail today.

    In the affidavit, which has already been prepared in the case, Detective Sgt. Helaine Gaiotti of the Vermont State Police said police had considered Morrison a suspect while they were first investigating the murder of Hunter, 36, who lived in Manchester.

    Hunter’s car had been found abandoned at a Main Street gas station in Manchester the day after she was reported missing. Morrison was working the night of Hunter’s disappearance at a second gas station, which police said was just a few hundred feet from where Hunter’s car was located.

    He was interviewed twice, on Oct. 9, 1986, and Jan. 30, 1987, but denied he ever even met Hunter.

    Morrison left Vermont early in 1988 and he was arrested and convicted in California the same year.

    Marthage, who grew up in Manchester, said law enforcement officials were still working on resolving the case, even when their efforts weren’t visible to the public.

    A California police officer told Gaiotti that he was going to meet with Morrison in 2009 about an unsolved murder. Because the cases were similar, he said he wanted some background on the Hunter murder.

    The interviews were recorded. Police said while Morrison continued to deny killing Hunter, he told the officer conducting the interview that talking about Hunter could “put the last nail in (his) coffin.”

    In March 2010, police re-examined a car that Morrison had used and left behind in Vermont after he went to California. A hair found inside was sent to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, where it was determined that the possibility that the hair came from Hunter was greater than 99 percent.

    If Morrison is convicted of murder in Vermont, he’s expected to be returned to California. Morrison would have to finish serving his sentence in California before being returned to Vermont again to serve the newer sentence.

    patrick.mcardle

    @rutlandherald.com

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