Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Thursday, July 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 67° Partly Cloudy
News >  Crime/Public Safety

Police, medical examiner investigate death of Black Spokane woman

UPDATED: Tue., June 30, 2020

Morrow  (Facebook)
Morrow (Facebook)
By Emma Epperly and Maggie Quinlan The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office are separately investigating the death of a 23-year-old Black woman who died in the Cliff Cannon Neighborhood on Sunday.

A tweet by Diamond Morrow’s former Rogers High School classmate Nena Vu Nguyen alleging Morrow was murdered has been retweeted over 16,000 times and liked over 25,000 times.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner lists Morrow’s cause and manner of death as pending .

The cause of death indicates the medical cause of death, like disease or injury. The manner of death is a statistical classification with the options of accident, natural, suicide, homicide or undetermined.

The Spokane Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit is conducting an open death investigation, Sgt. Terry Preuninger said. Police often conduct death investigations when an individual did not die of natural causes.

Before police announced their investigation, Nguyen’s tweets and Facebook posts raised questions about how seriously police and media have taken Morrow’s death. Nguyen shared screenshots of an email she sent to the Spokane Police Department.

“If this was a white lady who got murdered in her own home, the whole block would be closed off and news stations would be all over it,” Nguyen wrote to police, according to screenshots she posted to Facebook. “Murder should never be taken lightly. Black. Lives. Matter.”

Nguyen did not respond to a request for an interview.

Another of Morrow’s friends from high school, Ricki Wilson, said Morrow was a uniquely warm person. Wilson said she was not a witness, but believes police have not been serious enough about the possibility that Morrow was murdered.

Wilson described Morrow as selfless, while several Facebook posts memorialize her for stepping up for classmates who were bullied.

Morrow was a survivor of sex trafficking in Spokane, according to a sponsored content written by the Jonah Project, a Spokane nonprofit, which was published by The Spokesman-Review in 2018.

In a 2018 photo exhibit in the Spokane Public Library, Morrow’s testimony described dating boyfriends who, at first, seemed like “normal people” but ended up sex-trafficking her across the state, according to the Jonah Project story.

Morrow had been kicked out of her house and had lost track of her father, who was in the military, according the story, and then started using drugs.

“You don’t go into it wanting to sell your body,” Morrow said, according to the sponsored content. “It just ends up happening because the guy or pimp who recruited you grooms you. They start to give you money, out of nowhere, wanting to take care of you, give you a place to stay. And after a while, they expect you to pay for all the stuff they did for you.”

Morrow told the Jonah Project she barely escaped. After she was beaten bloody by a man and tied up, she managed to struggle free, open up a window, crawl out and run, the story says.

She stayed for periods in Yakima and Medical Lake’s Eastern State Hospital and eventually regained her health. As of 2018, she was still recovering and suffering from PTSD, according to the nonprofit.

“She just had a huge heart, she was never judgmental, she always helped people get through her problems,” Morrow’s high school friend Wilson said. “She was amazing, man. It breaks my heart that this girl is gone.”

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.



Swedish Thoracic Surgery: Partners in patient care

 (Courtesy Bergman Draper Oslund Udo)
Sponsored

Matt Bergman knows the pain and anger that patients with mesothelioma feel.