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On the 35th anniversary of her murder, Holle Brian has written a victim impact statement on behalf of her late sister Shelley Morgan to describe the devastating impact of her death. She’s also recorded a video message appealing for anyone with new information to come forward (below).
The victim impact statement reads:
“My name is Shelley Cameron Brian Morgan. I was born in 1951 in a small Midwestern college town in the United States. My father was an art teacher, so he and my mother were pleased to discover that their first-born child was somewhat gifted. I learned to talk at an early age – and kept on talking! I was curious about the world and determined to explore. I loved books and music and did well at school. But most of all, I was good at making things with my hands – drawing and sculpting and, as I got older and learned to sew, making all kinds of creations out of fabrics and fibres – elaborate stuffed dolls and animals, as well as designing and making my own clothes.
“When I was 17, I was accepted into the American Field Service foreign student exchange program, and spent that summer living with a family in Japan. It was my first visit to another country and it gave me a yearning to see the world.
“In high school, I was given the opportunity to design and sew costumes for my school’s theatre department. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to pursue a career as a costume designer, and went to college to get a degree in theatre arts. After my second year at the University, I was offered a summer internship at an opera house in Rome, which I was delighted to accept. After the internship was over, I started looking around for employment in Europe. I had always wanted to live in England, and when I was offered a job as wardrobe manager for the Liverpool Playhouse, I took it and didn’t return to the U.S.
“How I loved to work! The theatre very much suited my character: the challenge of making order out of chaos, having deadlines pile up and meeting them, feeling the excitement of bringing a project together; I loved the creative, energetic people I got to know, and the satisfaction of being part of a team. But the fast pace started to take its toll on my health and wear me down. After a couple of years at the Playhouse, I met my husband, we married and had a son, and we went to live in a small village in his native South Wales, where I devoted my time to being a wife and mother.
“How I loved my family! Our son was followed by a daughter, and we had many friends in the small Welsh community. But sadly, as time went on it became clear that our son had some kind of developmental disability and he was diagnosed as autistic. In order for him to thrive, he would need education and therapy that was not available in the country. So we decided to relocate to Bristol.
“After we moved, I started to think about returning to work as a designer. I wanted to finish my arts degree to expand my employment opportunities. To that end, I started building a portfolio of drawings and photographs to aid in applying to the University.
“It was a fine June day in 1984. My husband was away at our old house in the village, doing some work to prepare it for sale. I had a respite that morning while my children were in school, and decided to take advantage of the time to photograph some scenic spots I had seen. Carrying my camera and sketch book, I bussed around the river area, taking pictures and enjoying myself. But then the day wore on, and my children were due home; I realized I was running late and might not be there in time to meet them. I hurried to the nearest bus stop; then you came along, and my world stopped.
“I begged you to let me go, I just wanted to get back to my children, I wanted to be there when they got home from school, but you wouldn’t let me. Then came disgust, and terror, and unimaginable pain. You left my broken body in the woods, to be bothered by animals and the weather; but by that time it didn’t matter, because I was no longer there.
“I was no longer there. I wasn’t there when my children came home from school that day and didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t there when my husband rushed to our house in Bristol, full of grief and dread. I wasn’t there when my desperate parents travelled to England to try to find me. I wasn’t there when my friends were subjected to a police investigation. I wasn’t there when, a month after my death was confirmed, my sister had her first baby, a daughter, brought into a world that didn’t seem in any way right for daughters. I wasn’t there when my husband took our children back to Wales to raise alone (he never remarried.) I wasn’t there to see that my son got the special care he needed. I wasn’t there for her when my daughter was struggling in school. I wasn’t there when my father’s health declined and he finally died. I wasn’t there when my daughter married. I never got to meet or hug my beautiful grandchildren. I wasn’t there when my husband died of cancer, at home, with my daughter taking care of him until the end. I never got to finish school and go back to work, or see the wonderful designs I imagined become reality.
“It’s been 35 years of silence and the life I didn’t get to live.
“Yet I am grateful to God for my beautiful life, short though it may have been. God bless my family and keep us all safe from harm.”