Lone Survivor Of Lookout Valley Massacre Says He Is 100% Sure Morse Was One Of Shooters; Detective Tells Of Retrieving Guns

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Matthew Callam
Matthew Callam

The lone survivor of a massacre at a Lookout Valley trailer park on April 9, 2014, testified Wednesday that he is 100 percent sure that Derek Morse was one of the two shooters.

Matthew Callan said he was thrown off initially by the fact that Morse had facial hair at the time, but he said when he was shown a recent photo of Morse soon after the incident "it was like I was looking at the dude who pointed the rifle at me."

Morse is standing trial in the courtroom of Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman for three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. 

Skyler Allen is set to be tried later.

The third defendant, Jacob Allison, is expected to testify for the state.

Of the victims that day, Callan said Jon Morris was a friend of the family. Caleb Boozer lived in one of the trailers and had painted for his father. He said John "Jake" Lang had just moved his RV into the hillside compound.

He said Lang had asked him to help him with an electrical hookup. The witness, who was 16 at the time, said he rode the bus home from Lookout Valley High School, then headed up to the Lang site with Morris.

The witness said he and Morris went to the store for two Code Red Mountain Dews, then returned to the Lang RV. He said he passed around a marijuana joint he had and they also drank beer while listening to music. He said he was getting ready to leave when Lang asked him to stay around to listen to some new music.

He said they then saw a black sedan pass by, then go up and stop at the Morris residence. He said he and Morris were getting ready to go check on the vehicle, when it started back down toward them. He said it halted at a stop sign, then the driver "threw it into reverse really fast."

Callan said Derek Morse got out of the back passenger door, stared at Morris, then reached back in for a rifle. He said Morse then started firing.

He said they first thought it was a pellet gun. He said Lang was killed in the chair where he was sitting, but the others tried to scramble away. He said Morris tried to crawl under the back of the RV. He and Boozer started running toward some nearby brambles.

As he ran, he said he was shot in the back, causing him to fall on his face. He said he was shot four more times - including his shoulder, neck, collar bone and leg. He said he reached back and felt his back covered with blood. He said, "I knew then it was not a pellet gun."

Callan said he witnessed Boozer get stuck in the briars and have to come back toward the shooters. He said they shot him multiple times, then paused. He said Boozer then begged for his life, saying, "Please don't kill me. Please don't kill me. I don't even know y'all."

He said Allen then shot Boozer in the head with a handgun from about a foot or a foot and a half away. He said it appeared that Morse was out of ammunition.

Callan also said he saw his friend Morris get killed. He said the pair pulled him from under the RV and shot him numerous times. He said he could see his arms flailing up and down, then the movement stopped.

He said he was looking directly at Morse from about 20 feet away when he heard him say, "Make sure they're all dead."

Then, he said, he closed his eyes and played dead. He said, "I felt sure that was it for me." But he said after about 30-40 seconds he heard gravel moving as if they were walking away. He said he then heard them get in the black car and it pull off.

Callan said he tried three times to get back up the hill to his friends. He said, "I was alive and I thought maybe one of them was." But he was unable to make it. He said his leg was caught between a rock and a log, but he finally rolled the log off. He said he managed to limp to his parents' nearby home before collapsing at the front door.

His father called 911 and on the call he asked his son if he knew who shot him. He said "No." Callan testified that was because Morse's looks had changed since he spent time with him in 2012 when Morse also lived in one of the nearby trailers. He said Morse had been "a friend of a friend."

Trooper David McVey said he was filling his motorcycle with gas at the Mapco on Brown's Ferry Road when he got a call to back up a deputy who was the first officer on the scene. He said the deputy motioned for him to go on up the hill. He said he pulled his cycle into the driveway at the Lang trailer.

The trooper first spotted the lifeless Lang in a chair. He then went into the RV to make sure no one was hiding there or to find if there were more victims inside.

After he came out, he said Morris' sister, Molly, had come down the hill looking frantically for her brother. He said, "She was panicking, hollering and screaming."

The trooper said he told her to go back home and he would have an officer speak with her. He said a short time later she hollered down from her deck that she could see her brother's body at the rear of the RV. He then went around and found it.

Trooper McVey a short time later located the third victim - Caleb Boozer - down a small embankment. He said he was lying against a tree curled up in the fetal position.

Prosecutor Lance Pope asked the witness, "Were any of these people alive?"

He replied, "No, sir."

County Detective Roger Brown told of retrieving two rifles and a handgun from a gully by I-24 over a year after the shootings. He said the guns were in a protective pouch and were under a large tree that had fallen on them. One of the rifles was a .22 and the handgun was a .40 caliber.

He also told of finding a .380 handgun at the residence of Skyler Allen on Burgess Road.

The detective said at the murder scene the spent shell casings retrieved included 16 .22 Remingtons, five .40 Winchesters and three .380 Winchesters.

He said a black Hyundai was searched and found to have several spent .22 caliber shell casings as well as a live .22 round in the glove box.

Molly Morris, sister of victim Jon Morris, said they lived in a trailer at the Rolling Hills Trailer Park for some 20 years. She said at the time of the shooting the occupants included her, her child, husband Brandon Jackson, brother Jon, and their parents.

She said at the time of the shooting she was lying down with her child napping. She said she was awakened by the gunshots and screaming by Matthew Callan. She said she ran down to the Callan trailer, passing by the Lang place on the way.

She said Matthew Callan was lying on the doorstep with numerous bullet wounds. She said, "His mother and daddy were kind of freaking out and hysterical."

She was there when the father, Matt Callan, called 911, telling the dispatcher, "I'm watching my son die here in front of me."

Ms. Morris can be heard hollering in the background of the call. She said she was calling her brother. "I was hoping he could hear me."

She said she went up to the Lang place and found a trooper there near where Jake Lang was dead in his chair. She said the trooper told her to return to her place and he would have an officer talk with her.

Ms. Morris said she went out on a deck at her residence where she could look down on the Lang RV. When she did, she said she spotted her brother lying under the rear of the RV.

She said, "I could see his shorts, his legs and his shoes. I know because I bought him those shorts and shoes."

She then hollered to the officers, telling them where they could find her brother.

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Morse
Derek Morse


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