An Intriguing Development

Feb 17, 2023

Recently, I was contacted by two students from Shepherd University in West Virginia, Devin Mattei and Hailey Knotts. They informed me that their English 102 class is focusing on true crime this semester, and the students have been given the task of following one case all semester. Then they will make a podcast with everything they have studied and learned.

Their professor, Dr. Brian Santana, a visiting Assistant Professor of English, gave the class options of a number of different true crime and cold cases to choose from for the assignment. Each student had the choice of following the case they found most interesting.

One of the students, Devin Mattei, wrote me that he chose “the murder of Nancy Morgan because of the details that were initially given to us about the case. The details about her murder and the fact about her body being found in a government owned car all seemed very intriguing off the jump and drew my interest to pursue the case.” With four other students who also chose the Morgan case, a group was formed.

The students asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed, and I agreed. I also suggested several lines of inquiry for their research: DNA and genetic genealogy; and fingerprints I believe were taken from Nancy Morgan’s car (inside and out) when it was discovered, from fellow VISTA workers that day, and a number of other suspects.
Since you are reading this blog, you, too, probably have an interest in solving this case. If you have any tips or suggestions for the students, please contact Devin at:; (email); or @Devin Mattei ; (twitter); or Hailey Knotts,

As it happens, Dr. Santana has several connections to North Carolina, a B.A. degree from UNC Asheville and an M.A. from North Carolina State University.

Shepherd University, Devin informs me, “is a college located in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The school was established in 1871 and is a public liberal arts college. The school is very affordable and offers a wide variety of majors, (as well as a master of arts degree in Appalachian Studies). From my personal experience, my favorite thing about the college is the community and the people at Shepherd. It is a relatively small college so it feels like everyone there is a little family.”

According to Shepherd’s web site, “In 2004 Governor Bob Wise signed legislation allowing Shepherd College to change its name to Shepherd University.” As it happens, I was at Duke University with Bob, where we both worked on the campus daily, “The Chronicle.”